Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Thank You Booksellers For Making Our Award-Winning Books a Success!

St. Martin's Press: Remain in Love: Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Tina by Chris Franz

Walker Books: The Good Hawk (Shadow Skye, Book One) by Joseph Elliott

Tor Books: Deal with the Devil: A Mercenary Librarians Novel by Kit Rocha

News

Notes: Books Boom Online; Stores Opening, Closing

More books than any other product are sold on the Internet and the number of books sold is increasing, according to a Nielsen Online survey as reported by the BBC.

Nielsen Online polled 26,312 people in 48 countries and 41% of Internet users had bought books online, up from 34% in a similar survey two years ago. The biggest increases in buying books online occurred in emerging markets like South Korea and India.

The top 10 book-buying countries by percentage of Internet users buying books online according to Nielsen Online are:

1. South Korea--58%
2. Germany--55%
3. Austria--54%
4. Vietnam--54%
5. Brazil--51%
6. Egypt--49%
7. China--48%
8. India--46%
9. Taiwan--45%
10. U.K.-45%

While the U.S. had a high number of consumers who Nielsen estimates have bought books online--57.5 million--that represents 38% of all American Internet users.

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After "the worst holiday season in record," James Drayton is closing the African American Heritage Bookstore, West Palm Beach, Fla., which he bought 15 years ago, according to the Palm Beach Post. The store was founded in 1991.

Drayton indicated he believes the economy will get worse and won't improve for at least two years, adding, "I don't have that kind of financial staying power for that period of time."

This marks the second African American bookstore to close in the last week. Last Tuesday, Karibu Books, with six stores in and around Prince George's County, Md., announced it was closing. In its case, the cause was not the state of the business so much as what CEO Simba Sana called a "destructive" dissolution of the company's partnership (Shelf Awareness, January 22, 2008).

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The Book End, a Christian bookstore selling books, Bibles, music, jewelry and gifts, has opened in downtown Floyd, Va., the Roanoke Times reported. Owner Retia Meade told the paper she opened the store because "there just is not a Christian bookstore within a 50 mile radius around here and there's just a real need for one."

The Book End is located at 201 E. Main St., Suite 9, Floyd, Va. 24091; 540-745-6707.

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More on Jessica Stockton Bagnulo's prize of $15,000 to be used toward opening a bookstore in Brooklyn, N.Y., mentioned here yesterday. She told today's New York Daily News that she envisions "a small bookstore with a cafe, a wine bar, lots of wood and lots of brick" and is looking to open either in Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Windsor Terrace or Prospect Heights. "I want to go to a neighborhood that needs a bookstore and can support one," she said.

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Effective February 18, Vicky Smith becomes children's book review editor at Kirkus Reviews, replacing Karen Breen, who is retiring after eight years in the position. She will remain with Kirkus in a consulting capacity. Smith, a public librarian the past 13 years, has been a children's book reviewer and regular contributor to Kirkus since 2000.

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"Is New York City not the best city on earth?" asked Alison Stein Wellner in an article for Huffington Post. Her reason for doubting the Big Apple's reign?

"I've just returned from a trip to Portland, Oregon, where my last good argument for why New York City is the best city on the continent failed me. I sort of knew that this would happen before I went--oh, I'd heard the rumors--and it happened on the drive from the airport, which went past Powell's bookstore, its lights were blazing in the cold, damp dark. It was huge, much bigger than I'd imagined, it just kept going and going, and through the windows, I could see rows and rows of books. It looked like the most inviting university library ever. I restrained my urge to leap from the car and run to it--and I realized I was in trouble."

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Unity Books, Pittsboro, N.C., is "thriving" while other businesses in the community are struggling with an uncertain economy, according to NBC17. Unity's owner, Janice Escott, called her shop more than just a bookstore because it has become a center where people go for yoga, spiritual healing and self-help.

"We are offering something to the community that is universal that people are looking for," she said. "So many times, people have come through the doors and said we've been looking for you. We're glad you're here-not just books but so many other things that people use in their lives."

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"Some people have trouble grasping the enormity" of Acres of Books, Long Beach, Calif., according to the Daily 49er, which noted that, "as if their name didn't already give you the hint, this established 74-year-old used bookstore, the third largest and oldest of its kind in the country, will make you walk 6.5 miles of space that's saturated with towering 15-foot bookshelves."

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Our comments about the Super Bowl yesterday elicited a range of reactions, from the unprintable to the following recommendations:

Never Give Up: My Stroke, My Recovery, and My Return to the NFL by Tedy Bruschi with Michael Holley (Wiley, $24.95, 9780470108697/047010869X), published last August. [Thanks to Rob Dyer at Wiley!]

The Blueprint: How the New England Patriots Beat the System to Create the Last Great NFL Superpower by Christopher Price (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's, $24.95, 978031236838/0312368380). [Thanks to Matt Baldacci at St. Martin's!]

And classic, general football titles:

  • Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger (Da Capo Press, $15.95, 9780306809903/0306809907). "Intense high school football in Texas."
  • Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback by George Plimpton (Lyons Press, $15.95, 9781599210056/1599210053). "The founder of the Paris Review joins the Detroit Lions."
  • Namath: A Biography by Mark Kriegel (Penguin, $16, 9780143035350/0143035355). "Broadway Joe, football's first TV star."
  • Next Man Up: A Year Behind the Lines in Today's NFL by John Feinstein (Back Bay Books, $15.99, 9780316013284/0316013285). "A year with the Baltimore Ravens."
  • The Thin Thirty by Shannon P. Ragland (Set Shot Press, $18.95, 9780979122217/097912221X). "Coaching brutality at Kentucky."
  • Fifth Quarter: The Scrimmage of a Football Coach's Daughter by Jennifer Allen (Random House, $19, 9780812992328/0812992326). "Being a head coach's daughter."

[Thanks to Richard Davies at AbeBooks.com!]

Go, Giants! 

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons: You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle


Cool Idea of the Day: Bloggers Unite for Patry Francis

Hundreds of literary bloggers are uniting today for a generous group effort on behalf of author Patry Francis, who is battling cancer (and has written eloquently about it at her blog, Simply Wait). Check out Backspace and Litpark for the latest details and a list of some of the participants.

According to her agent, Alice Tasman, Patry is the "mother of four children [and] spent years writing novels, not getting published, working as a waitress on Cape Cod. But this Brockton, Mass., native finally sold and published her debut last spring. Within a few months of this pivotal event, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Since November she's had two surgeries and a third scheduled. The writing community just learned about her illness and is rallying to promote the paperback release of her debut novel, The Liar's Diary (Plume, $14, 9780452289154/0452289157), as she is still recovering at home."

Today is the release date for The Liar's Diary and hundreds of bloggers worldwide "are holding a huge, joint-effort blogging day to show support for Patry, for cancer survivors, for writers helping writers and for the strength and spirit of the blogging community. Circle of Seven has produced a video for the event and Brilliance audio is contributing sound bytes.

"The hook here isn't cancer (though Patry's incredible spirit and grace under these difficult circumstances should be an inspiration to us all!)," Tasman continues, "but that the writing community--not known for its fraternity--is banding together and using the Internet to market books in a profoundly new way. Patry has captured and inspired world-wide attention. Just how far can the power of the Internet and the goodwill and generosity of the literary community take this?"

 


Running Press: Thank You! Now on Instagram!


Surprise in a Box: Powell's Launches Subscription Club

Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., is launching a subscription club that every six weeks will deliver an unusual edition of a new book in a box along with at least one surprise--which may be a DVD or CD, a literary magazine, signed blads from graphic novel, a zine, a mug, excellent chocolate, etc. The program costs $39.95 per box, including shipping and handling, and begins on March 5 with a hardcover first edition copy of How the Dead Dream by Lydia Millet (Counterpoint Press) with a matching full-cloth slipcase (see illustration). The first shipment will be limited to 200 copies, signed and numbered by Millet. People who buy a membership for themselves may cancel at any time. Those who buy it as a gift take it for at least three, six or twelve installments.

Many of the books will be sent around the time of publication and may be first editions, special editions and in some cases higher-quality ARCs, and many will be signed. Publishers will be able to include something in the box such as a note, a reader's reaction card and more. The boxes themselves may be somewhat fancy, depending on the cost. "At the least, the boxes will be lovingly packaged," Dave Weich, director of marketing and development at Powell's, told Shelf Awareness.

Called IndieSpensable, the book club is "basically handselling," Weich continued. "We want people not just to be pleased but be surprised and entertained. Members won't know what they're getting, and part of the thrill is of getting that book before anyone else."

Authors will include both established and new voices, and Powell's will emphasize independent press titles, aiming to have about two-thirds of the first nine choices published by indies. Powell's is not asking for financial support from publishers. "This is selective and high quality," he added.

From a base of 200 boxes the company hopes to expand, and eventually the club could regularly account for sales of 300 or 400 copies of a title. Powell's will also send some 25-30 complimentary boxes to the media, industry people and good customers. Powell's is marketing IndieSpensable online.

Among reasons for establishing the IndieSpensable book club were for the store to "reinforce that we are independent booksellers who partner with others" as well as creating "an opportunity to put books out there that might not get much attention," Weich said. Powell's staff intends "to turn on a lot of people to our favorite authors in a genuine way."--John Mutter

 


BINC: Double Your Donation with PRH


Winter Institute: Danny Meyer Sets the Table

In an intense, understated, hospitable talk on Friday at the Winter Institute, Danny Meyer, the New York City restaurateur and author, most recently, of Setting the Table: The Power of Hospitality in Restaurants, Business, and Life, outlined what he calls hospitality quotient, or HQ, an indispensable ingredient for retail success for businesses. "We're in a hospitality economy, not a service economy," he emphasized.

Service is "doing what you promise to do, and delivering on that," he continued. "Hospitality is how you make customers feel when you deliver service. Hospitality is emotional; service is technical." The goal is to make your business your customer's favorite.

Make no mistake: providing good service is important. "If you don't do those [service] things, you'll totally go out of business," he said. "But service gets us only to about the 49-yard line."

He gave several examples of good service: a dry cleaner who gets a stain out of a coat or a bookseller who gets the book a customer wants or a restaurant that "gets the right food to the right table to the right person at the right temperature at the right time."

Many companies compete and wind up providing roughly equivalent levels of good service. For example, decades ago air conditioning was a competitive advantage for restaurants that had it. "Today if an air conditioner is broken, customers will never come back," he said. "If it works, no one notices."

Likewise, over the years, hotels competed by adding more amenities, like better shampoos, mattresses, sheets and more. But now many hotels offer the same amenitites, so these things are no longer major advantages.

Given a choice between businesses that all provide great service, hospitality determines loyalty. Meyer noted that his neighborhood has four dry cleaners that all provide the same good service at the same price. He prefers the one where he was once asked how his son's baseball game had gone. He didn't understand at first; then the dry cleaner told him that when Meyer had dropped off his laundry the last time, his son was along and in a baseball uniform. "I go to the dry cleaner that takes an interest in who I am as a human being and what matters," he stated.

All hospitality is a dialogue with the customer, as opposed to service, which is a monologue, he continued. "Only through a dialogue will the person on the receiving end of service feel on our side. That is a crucial critical advantage we independents still have over any chain."

Another way of understanding the difference: "In service, one size fits all. In hospitality, one size fits one." And: "Hospitality comes down to two prepositions: to and for. Hospitality is present when the people on the receiving end feel we did something for them rather than to them."

HQ, or hospitality quotient, is "a compendium of emotional skills" that can be learned and stems from "deriving pleasure from the act of providing pleasure to others." At his restaurants, Meyer aims to hire people with HQ. "The more people on your team with HQ, the higher the chance of doing better," he commented.

High HQ people "are kind, are intently curious, have a higher than average work ethic, are highly empathetic and have a high degree of integrity," Meyer said.

He gave an example, this from his early days as a restaurateur, of good service that offered no hospitality. In the mid 1980s, a customer asked for a chardonnay. Meyer, knowing that all white burgundys in France are made from chardonnay grapes, brought out a Meursault. The man said, "That's not a chardonnay!" Meyer argued that it was. "Being right or wrong is irrelevant," he said. "What's relevant is that everyone wants to feel heard. I should have heard him and said, 'It sounds like what you really want is a California chardonnay.' "

Like books, food and wine are a commodity, Meyer continued. So how to differentiate these commodities? He encourages his staff to communicate their love and enthusiasm for food and wines to diners. His restaurants emphasize handcrafted, artisanal wines that tend to have a story behind them, and sometimes staff members have met the winemaker. Hearing those kinds of relationships "bonds people" to the restaurant.

In fact, he emphasized, "our customers want to fall in love with us or your store. They don't want to fall in love with the wine or book but with the place that has the incredibly rare combination of feeling like a place where you are going out and coming home at the same time."

Meyer's restaurants train employees constantly. "Basically we tell our staff that the reason anyone comes back for our roast chicken is because of how we treat our community." [Editor's note: Meyer is doing something very right because we know from personal experience that his restaurants, which vary greatly in cuisine, price and decor, are exceedingly pleasing to the eye, stomach and heart.]

He compared the achievement of hospitality and great service with swans, who appear so graceful--at least the 50% of their bodies that appear above the water. Underneath they are "doing technical delivery stuff."

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Meyer said that his restaurants and indie bookstores have "so much in common." Besides being independent, ABA stores and his restaurants have "taught chains everything they know and then they try to drive us out of business." In addition, to some degree both his restaurants and bookstores work on "paper-thin margins." (He added, "But in your case, it's a lot easier to stay thin than in mine.") Also, "you're feeding brains and I'm feeding tummies." Absent what "we do, our communities would all look the same."

Meyer thanked booksellers for "the support you have given Setting the Table. Not a day goes by that I don't hear from five or six people and from all walks of life" who are touched by the book. He described it not as "a business book to analyze," but as "creating a language to describe what I've done for years intuitively."

With more than 1,500 employees, it was "increasingly unfair of me to be an intuitive leader and expect the people working for me to know what mattered most to me. I needed to write a manual of some type to show in language important to me what we do." He extolled "the power of language to unlock people's ability to live their passion."--John Mutter

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons: A Tender Thing by Emily Neuberger


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ken Follett on Oprah Tomorrow

Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Roy J. Harris, Jr., author of Pulitzer's Gold: Behind the Prize for Public Service Journalism (University of Missouri Press, $39.95, 9780826217684/0826217680).

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Tommorow on Oprah: Ken Follett, whose The Pillars of the Earth (NAL, $24.95, 9780451225245/0451225244) is Oprah's latest book club selection.

 


Books & Authors

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing on Tuesday, February 4, and Wednesday, February 5:

Things I've Learned From Women Who've Dumped Me by Ben Karlin (Grand Central, $23.99, 9780446580694/0446580694) is a collection of stories recounting failed love.

7th Heaven by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316017701/0316017701) is the next installment of the Women's Murder Club series.

Stranger in Paradise by Robert B. Parker (Putnam, $25.94, 9780399154607/0399154604) follows chief of police Jesse Stone as he confronts a criminal who escaped him 10 years ago.

Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card--and Lose by Larry Elder (St. Martin's, $24.95, 9780312367336/0312367333) examines how racial activists can hurt their own causes--from the talk show host.

 



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