Shelf Awareness for Monday, January 28, 2008


Grove Atlantic: The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broom

Feiwel & Friends: A Delayed Life: The True Story of the Librarian of Auschwitz by Dita Kraus

New Directions: Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming by László Krasznahorkai, translated by Ottilie Mulzet

Workman Publishing: Real Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A 28-Day Program to Realize the Power of Meditation (Second Edition, Revised) by Sharon Salzberg

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci, illustrated by Jim Rugg

Clarion Books: The Thief Knot: A Greenglass House Story by Kate Milford

News

Notes: $15K Toward a Brooklyn Bookstore; Pohrt Panel

Congratulations to Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, who won this year's PowerUP! Business Plan Competition sponsored by Citigroup Foundation and the Brooklyn Public Library's Business Library. The grand prize is a $15,000 grant to help entrepreneurs start a business in Brooklyn--in her case, a bookstore. A major part of the competition was submission of a business plan and consultation with business experts.

Read Jessica's blog for an account of the evening when she was presented with the award. She noted, "Kathleen, the Citibank rep responsible for creating the contest and the head judge, told me that it was my presentation that made the difference--that the judges were skeptical about the wisdom of opening an independent bookstore given all they'd heard, but I sold them on the idea with my data and my passion."

Jessica works at McNally Robinson bookstore in New York City, at BookStream, the Poughkeepsie, N.Y., wholesaler and writes an occasional column for Shelf Awareness about graphic novels.

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In honor of Karl Pohrt, founder and owner of Shaman Drum Bookshop, Ann Arbor, Mich., the University of Michigan's department of English is holding a conference March 6-7 called Writing in Public: A Celebration of Karl Pohrt that consists of a series of author readings and panel discussions.

Panels will address "subjects near to Pohrt's heart," including literary publishing, writing in the schools and transforming books into films. Readers include poet Gary Snyder and author Andrea Barrett. Panelists include critic and author Sven Birkerts and author Charles Baxter.

The organizers wrote: "Karl Pohrt, founder and owner of Shaman Drum Bookshop, has offered the book-loving citizens of southeast Michigan a vital center for conversation and contemplation. He has celebrated the publication of books by current and former members of the University of Michigan; has hosted hundreds of readings and book signings, all of them free to the public; has offered hospitality and visibility to hundreds of visiting authors, editors, and illustrators; and has nourished a vital ongoing exchange between students, faculty, and readers of all kinds. With passion and unfailing generosity, and quite without official obligation or support, he has provided the circumstances in which the University of Michigan can make good on its promise as a public institution."

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News Corp. and Judith Regan, former publisher of the ReganBooks imprint at HarperCollins, have settled her $100 million lawsuit and issued the following joint statement: "The parties are pleased that they have reached an equitable, confidential settlement, with no admission of liability by any party." For more about the apparent end of a story that had the potential to generate many more reams of seamy copy, see the AP account.

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Books-A-Million has opened a store in Meridian, Miss. The store is in Meridian Crossroads and is BAM's 12th store in Mississippi.

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Super Bowl countdown.

Thanks to coach Carl Lennertz of HarperCollins for the following titles could star in a football-book display:

  • Patriot Reign: Bill Belichick, the Coaches, and the Players Who Built a Champion by Michael Holley (Harper, $13.95, 9780060757953/0060757957)
  • I Dream in Blue: Life, Death, and the New York Giants by Roger Director (HarperCollins, $24.95, 9780061209130/0061209139)
  • The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam (Hyperion, $14, 9781401308797/1401308791)

[Editor's note: But after the Giants win, will anyone be interested in Patriot books?] 

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Described by the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle as a "bookstore that binds a community," Burlingham Books, Perry, N.Y., will celebrate its second anniversary January 31.

"I want the kind of store where people find what they didn't expect to find," said owner Ann Burlingham. "A store that's got depth as well as breadth."

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The Bookloft, Great Barrington, Mass., and owner Eric Wilska were profiled by the Advocate Weekly for an ongoing series showcasing indie bookstores in the Berkshires and southern Vermont.

The article noted that Wilska's "commitment to local authors, both living and deceased, is evidenced by an entire wall devoted to their work." He is also co-owner of a POD press, Troy Book Makers, which "employs new printing technology that Eric thinks will revamp the bookstore experience in the near future."

"Say you come into the Bookloft five years from now and ask for a book we don't have in stock," he said. "I'll suggest that you go finish your errands and come back in 20 minutes. I'll push a button on a fancy machine in the back room and 20 minutes later it will have downloaded the book and spit out one copy. The customer will literally get it hot off the press."

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Wow. "I was working here when the ballpoint pens came out," Vera Wilson of Roseburg Book & Stationery, Roseburg, Ore., told the News-Review. In fact, Wilson, who is 90, has worked at the shop for 73 years.

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The closing of Jackson's Books, Salem, Ore. in December, 2006, "sent out a wake of disturbance in the Salem book world that is still reverberating," according to the Statesman Journal.

"Almost every day we're touched by Jackson's demise," said Tim Hannan, co-owner of Readers Guide to Recycled Literature, West Salem, Ore. "This community needs to know what Jackson's did, what they did over the last 20 or 25 years."

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Blog watching: RevMutha's World planned an indie bookstore visit last weekend.

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Sadly we have learned that Henry Hirsch, head of Como Sales for more than 40 years, died last Wednesday.

Memorial contributions in Hirsch's name may be made to the Food Bank for New York City, 90 John Street #702, New York, N.Y. 10038 or City Harvest, 575 Eighth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10018 or the American Civil Liberties Union, 125 Broad Street, New York, N.Y. 10014.

Notes of condolence may be sent to Henry's sons, David and Johnathan, and his daughter Judy, c/o Judy Hirsch, 123 E. 37th Street, Apt. 3B, New York, N.Y. 10016.

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Linda Magram has been named v-p, director of marketing, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group. She was most recently v-p, director of marketing for the Houghton Mifflin Children's Book Group and earlier was head of children's marketing at Little, Brown.

Sanj Kharbanda has been named director of e-marketing strategy at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In this newly created position, he will support e-marketing initiatives and work with sales, e-licensing and electronic development departments to make and expand partnerships. He was formerly senior marketing manager and manager of e-marketing initiatives. Before joining Houghton Mifflin in 2005 as a marketing manager, he was a bookseller at WordsWorth Books for more than 15 years and developed the independent bookstore besteller list that was a forerunner of the Book Sense bestseller lists.

 


Ingram: Congratulations 2019 National Book Award Winners - Learn More>


Winter Institute: Purebred Winner in Louisville

The American Booksellers Association's third annual Winter Institute, which ended yesterday in Louisville, Ky., was another outstanding event marked by excellent speakers and programming, several highly topical themes and bookseller energy and enthusiasm. Congratulations to the ABA!

Although neither theme was new to booksellers, green and environmental concerns and the buy local/local business alliance movement both had extra resonance because of national trends. Ever more Americans want to live and conduct business in green, environmentally friendly ways, and attendees and speakers agreed that booksellers have many opportunities to tap into this desire and even lead the way, from running businesses in a green manner to educating customers through books, events and example. In a related vein, many Americans are coming to understand the value of buying local products and supporting local businesses. Besides economic, social and cultural advantages--towns with healthy main streets tend to have residents who are healthier by most any measure--areas with strong local businesses and local trade are more environmentally friendly than decentralized towns with far-flung malls and shopping centers. As Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy, said at Saturday's luncheon, "The big box store is just a machine for global warming."

Once again, the Winter Institute was an opportunity for 500 bookseller attendees to catch up with old friends and meet booksellers--and learn, learn, learn. During sessions and in informal conversations, booksellers shared tips and ideas on a range of topics, and people queried one another about all kinds of nuts-and-bolts bookselling issues, from hot titles and favorite reads to hiring tips and the merits of different inventory control systems. No subject was too particular or small for friendly discussion.

Many veteran booksellers were cheered by the large number of younger booksellers in attendance and felt more confident that a new generation, encouraged by the Emerging Leaders group, will eventually fill their shoes. As one longtime retailer put it, "It's so great to see wildly colored hair, piercings and tattoos mixed among the gray hair." At one panel, there was a show of hands that strikingly reflected the odd current demographics of bookselling. A good amount of the attendees indicated they had been in bookselling less than five years; another sizable group had been booksellers for more than 20 years; while only a few had been in bookselling 5-20 years.

This week and next, Shelf Awareness, with help from intrepid reporter Susan L. Weis, owner of breathe books, Baltimore, Md., will have detailed reports on many of the Winter Institute's sessions and speeches. For now, here are a few items that aren't exactly hard news but are fun to relate:

Congratulations on several counts to Len Vlahos, ABA's chief program officer, and Kristen Gilligan Vlahos, ABA's director of meetings and events. The cute pair were married last year and are, as Len put it to Shelf Awareness, expecting "a new bookseller" whose arrival is predicted to occur during BEA. Don't plan on seeing either Vlahos in Los Angeles.

Congratulations as well to the delightful Jenn Northington, who handles special events and marketing at the King's English, Salt Lake City, Utah. By volunteering to play in a Consumer Behavior Revealed seminar skit modeled on the Dating Game (she picked bachelor No. 2, who likes to hang out at Carmichael's, the Louisville indie), she won a free trip to BEA in Los Angeles. Incidentally our favorite exchange of the Dating Game involved the snobby character who when asked what he had read lately, said that he preferred to be seen reading rather than read, and lately he had been seen reading Finnegans Wake at a cafe. Prodded by M.C. Len Vlahos about what he had read lately, he responded, "The cover of Finnegans Wake."

On behalf of all attendees, we want again to thank former ABA president Mitchell Kaplan, owner of international bookseller Books & Books, with headquarters in Coral Gables, Fla., who had the idea of holding an event for ABA members featuring educational programming without the distraction of a concurrently run trade show.

The next Winter Institute will be held January 29-31, 2009, in Salt Lake City, Utah.--John Mutter

 


Soho Press: The Seep by Chana Porter


Random House Adult Sales Realigned

In a realignment, Random House has made the following appointments in the adult sales group, which reports to Jaci Updike, senior v-p, director, Random House adult sales:
  • Al Greco has been promoted to the newly created position of v-p, director, adult retail sales, and will oversee sales to Barnes & Noble, Borders Group, Books-A-Million and the foreign language sales division.
  • Tom Cox has been promoted to v-p, mass merchandiser and distributor sales, and will lead the teams that cover warehouse clubs, mass merchants and wholesalers.
  • Paul Kozlowski has been promoted to the newly formed position of v-p, director, sales marketing. Working with Random publishers and adult sales directors, he will be responsible for developing entrepreneurial sales title strategies appropriate to each imprint and customer and communicating them. He also will oversee adult sales's promotional planning and sales marketing efforts.
  • Glenn Ellis succeeds Paul Kozlowski as v-p, director, adult field sales. He formerly worked in the children's books division, where he oversaw the retail field, education and library, as well as re-supply.
  • Amanda Close continues as v-p, director of sales, online and digital.
  • Christian Waters, newly named v-p, director, sales planning, will have wide-ranging cross-divisional duties for adult sales.

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With the changes, deputy director Marty McGrath's job has been eliminated and he is leaving the company. Updike thanked him for "his many years of dedicated service to our sales group, our booksellers, and our publishers. . . . He will be missed by all of us."

In addition, Bill Huelster, director, proprietary sales, is also leaving the company. Updike thanked him for his contributions.

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George Fisher, v-p, director, adult mass merchandise sales, at Random House is retiring after 35 years in book publishing. He wrote to the sales group: "I am not leaving Random House or mass merch because my passion or love for this industry has abated. . . . I am moving to another chapter of my life for personal reasons and for my family."

Edward J. Volini, Random deputy chairman and COO, commented: "George has played a long and invaluable role in the Random House adult-title sales effort for distribution to the non-bookstore markets. A great salesman and an inspiring leader of his people, George believes in our books and was tireless in getting his customers to believe in them as well. He has never stopped trying to get that next sale for us and his enormous success in doing so has consistently benefited our publishing goals and our bottom line."

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Providence by Max Barry


Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Gift of Fear

This morning on the Today Show: Ian Kerner, author of Sex Detox: Recharge Desire. Revitalize Intimacy. Rejuvenate Your Love Life. (Collins, $24.95, 9780061136078/0061136077).

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Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Michael Reid, author of Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America's Soul (Yale University Press, $30, 9780300116168/0300116160).

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Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Randall Balmer, author of God in the White House: A History: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush (HarperOne, $24.95, 9780060734053/0060734051).

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Today on the View: Bob Berkowitz, author of He's Just Not Up for It Anymore: Why Men Stop Having Sex, and What You Can Do About It (Morrow, $24.95, 9780061192036/0061192031).

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Tonight on Late Night with Conan O'Brien: Chuck Liddell, author of Iceman: My Fighting Life (Dutton, $25.95, 9780525950561/0525950567).

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Tomorrow on Oprah: Gavin de Becker, author of The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence (Dell, $15, 9780440508830/0440508835).

 


Books & Authors

Awards: Pannell Nominees

The Women's National Book Association has announced the nominees for the 2008 Lucile Micheels Pannell Award, co-sponsored by the Penguin Young Readers Group, given to a general bookstore and a children's-only bookstore "that excel at inspiring the interest of young people in books and reading." WNBA will present the award to the two bookstores at BookExpo America in Los Angeles. Each recipient will receive a check for $1,000 and a framed piece of original art by a children's book illustrator. We are especially happy to see Women and Children First on the list of general store nominees; just last spring the store was in danger of closing (Shelf Awareness, May 23, 2007).

The nominees are:

Children's specialty stores:
  • Books on First, Dixon, Ill.
  • Flying Pig Books, Shelburne, Vt.
  • Children's Place Bookstore, Portland, Ore.
  • Mrs. Nelson's Toy and Book Shop, La Verne, Calif.
General stores:
  • Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif.
  • Barnes & Noble (store 1857), North Miami, Fla.
  • Green Apple Books, San Francisco, Calif.
  • Liberty Bay Books, Poulsbo, Wash.
  • Kepler's Books & Magazines, Menlo Park, Calif.
  • LaDeDa Books and Beans, Manitowoc, Wis.
  • Lift Bridge Book Shop, Brockport, N.Y.
  • Women and Children First, Chicago, Ill.


Book Sense: May We Recommend

From last week's Book Sense bestseller lists, available at BookSense.com, here are the recommended titles, which are also Book Sense Picks:

Hardcover

House Lust: America's Obsession with Our Homes by Daniel McGinn (Currency, $24.95, 9780385519298/038551929X). "Fast-paced and evenhanded, McGinn takes the reader on a nonstop open house tour, from the tackiest of McMansions to the smallest N.Y.C. closet apartments. Think having two dishwashers is extreme? You won't after reading House Lust."--Michael Karpus, Books & Books at Bal Harbour Shops, Bal Harbour, Fla.

My Enemy's Cradle by Sara Young (Harcourt, $24, 9780151015375/0151015376). "Cyrla's aunt arranges for Cyrla to take her cousin's place in a Nazi-run maternity home in Germany. By giving Cyrla her cousin Annika's papers (and identity), her aunt hopes to keep Cyrla's Jewish heritage hidden. It's a desperate game with risks at every turn, but, once Cyrla agrees, there's no going back."--Keri Holmes, The Kaleidoscope: Our Focus Is You, Hampton, Iowa

Paperback

Game of Kings: A Year Among the Oddballs and Geniuses Who Make Up America's Top High School Chess Team by Michael Weinreb (Gotham, $15, 9781592403387/1592403387). "This book is to chess as the movie Wordplay is to crossword puzzles--a fun look inside the world of competitive high school chess."--Katie Kuenkler, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop, Shorewood, Wis.

For Teen Readers

Long May She Reign by Ellen Emerson White (Feiwel & Friends, $15.95, 97803612367671/0312367678). "At first glance, Meg--daughter of the president of the United States--has it all. But then we learn that six months ago, she was kidnapped by Islamic radicals. Now, she's navigating her freshman year at college: trying to stop the nightmares in her head and wondering how she will forgive her mother, who refused to negotiate with the kidnappers. Meg is a compelling young woman with an authentic young adult voice."--Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex.

[Many thanks to Book Sense and the ABA!]


Book Review

Book Review: The Exchange Artist

Exchange Artist: A Tale of High-Flying Speculation and America's First Banking Collapse by Jane Kamensky (Viking Books, $29.95 Hardcover, 9780670018413, February 2008)



Physicians distinguish between good and bad cholesterol. Economists make similar distinctions about speculation: the good kind advances economic well-being whereas the bad kind empties people's wallets. The only problem with speculative ventures is that we don't know if they are good or bad until all the results are in, since seemingly hare-brained ideas can make their investors very rich.

In her absorbing book, Jane Kamensky ponies up a deliriously detailed examination of Andrew Dexter, Jr., whose overarching vision was to develop the Exchange Coffee House in early 19th century Boston. Like all speculators, Dexter spotted an opportunity that he couldn't pass up: he noticed that traders and merchants met on the street under store awnings in downtown Boston to transact business, no matter what the weather. Wasn't it high time that Boston, a major port with aspirations, had a grand trading floor like those in London and Paris? And why shouldn't Dexter be the one to bring Boston into the big-time and profit from it? So what if his plan for an extravagant building was one that made conservative locals cringe!

Much later, people would ask: How did a penniless upstart acquire all that prime downtown land for the project? Where did this maniac find the money to finance his scheme? How could a whippersnapper from Providence construct such an outlandish building in staid Boston?

Kamensky has scoured the records and, brick-by-brick, dollar-by-dollar, provides answers to these questions. What started out as a young dreamer's gamble turned iffy as resistance by Boston's merchants grew, but nothing could stop Dexter; he was, the record shows, a member of that most dangerous category of dreamers--scheme-rich, cash-poor and fearless. By the time he embarked on a series of complex financial manipulations to save the project--it would eventually cost almost half a million dollars--doom was in the air, yet he soldiered on.

Dexter's scheme ultimately failed as a commercial enterprise and dragged down the Farmer's Exchange Bank, its source of paper money. When the building later caught fire, it became headline material: America's Tallest Building Reduced to Smoking Rubble! For all his dreams, Dexter could never have imagined such a total disaster.

As economic history, Kamensky's study meticulously recounts the cultural, institutional and social obstacles that Dexter faced to get his scheme off the ground; as a financial horror story, she spins a hair-raising tale of speculation that has all the fascination of a multiple-car pileup on the interstate. Let it be a lesson to all of us enamored of bad-boy speculators and their irresistible antics.--John McFarland

 


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