Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 4, 2008


Yen Press: Diary (Berrybrook Middle School #4) by Svetlana Chmakova

Shadow Mountain: Paul, Big, and Small by David Glen Robb

Amulet Books: Village of Scoundrels by Margi Preus

Flatiron Books: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Canongate Books: The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry and The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry

Editors' Note

News

Notes: Vegas Store Folding; Schaeffer to Deal New Hand?

Sadly the Reading Room in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas's only general independent bookstore selling new books, is closing by the end of March. According to Las Vegas City Life, the casino owners are betting that a different kind of retail operation in the space will appeal more to the casino's somewhat younger visitors. As City Life put it, "when that younger, hipper tourist hits a mall on the Strip, he's more likely looking for designer jeans than the collected works of Jean Genet."

The 1,000-sq.-ft. store, catering mainly to tourists, opened in 2003. The manager is Debra Belcoff, and Irma Wolfson is the buyer. The Reading Room was a pet project of Glenn Schaeffer, who at the time of the store's founding was president and CFO of Mandalay Bay. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a literary benefactor, Schaeffer is now president and CEO of Fontainebleau Resorts, which is building a casino in Las Vegas. Asked about the Reading Room's closing, he told City Life: "Maybe there will be a resurrection at the Fontainebleau."

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Andy Ross, longtime owner of Cody's Books, Berkeley, Calif., which he sold in 2006 to Yohan Inc., and retired from late last year, is embarking on a new career. He has formed the Andy Ross Literary Agency, which will specialize in general nonfiction, politics and current events, history, biography, journalism and contemporary culture.

In a statement, Ross said, "After spending 36 years in retailing, I am delighted to begin a new career at the other end of the publishing pipeline, finding great writers and turning great ideas into books. I believe my many years selling books to readers will give me a unique perspective as an agent. The world is changing quickly. This is an exciting time to be in publishing."

The Andy Ross Literary Agency is located at 797 San Diego Rd., Berkeley, Calif. 94707; 510-525-0685; andyrossagency@hotmail.com.

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Bob Warwick, the third-generation owner of Warwick's, the La Jolla, Calif., bookstore, died last Tuesday from complications of a stroke, the store announced. He was 75.

Warwick and his wife, Marian, took over management of the store in 1964 and expanded it twice. In 2001, daughters Nancy and Cathy Warwick took the reins. Warwick's dates to 1896, when W.T. Warwick founded a paper goods and book store in Minnesota, a venture he moved to southern California in the 1930s.

Bob Warwick taught high school biology before joining the store and was active in the community, serving on the original La Jolla Community Planning Board, the La Jolla Town Council, the Torrey Pines Association and the La Jolla Historical Society.

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To support the April 30 celebration of El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children's Day/Book Day 2008), the AAP and ALA for the first time together have created a recommended reading list of some 24 children's books in both English and Spanish for parents and others who choose books for children. The list includes bilingual picture books, coming-of-age stories and nonfiction, all celebrating Latin culture and Latin American identity, and is available online at getcaughtreading.org.

The list was created by the Publishing for Latino Voices Task Force of the Association of American Publishers and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) division of the American Library Association. The titles were chosen by the ALSC's Quicklists Consulting Committee.

Calling the list "food for the brain," Pat Schroeder, president and CEO of the AAP, said, "We hope this bibliography will serve as a guide for stocking bookstores,  libraries, schools, and family bookshelves in homes nationwide."

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Karl Pohrt, owner of Shaman Drum Bookshop, Ann Arbor, Mich., is considering the possibility of "turning his store into a nonprofit organization--a move that could allow the shop to lower its book prices for students," according to the Michigan Daily.

"I think that what we stand for--a literary culture, a book culture--is really endangered in the country," Pohrt said. "How is it going to survive in this entertainment economy, when things are constantly being dumbed down and people aren't honoring complexity?"

Pohrt added that he will decide by March whether he will turn his store into a nonprofit. "What I'm trying to do here is pretty tricky," he said. "I want to see the store, and what it represents, survive. A lot of places across the country are trying to do this because they need support."

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The Book Garden, Bountiful, Utah, and its owner, Ben Jorgensen, were profiled by the Salt Lake Tribune, which noted that, "if a garden is a place where things grow, then the Book Garden is where imaginations flourish."

"We're a part of the community," Jorgensen said. "In general, people looking for books aren't ornery. They're looking for a fun book to read and are happy and nice. And if you find . . . a book they're looking for, they're really happy."

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Monumental books. Check out a pair of historical slides from the New York Times featuring "The Parthenon of Books/Homage to Democracy," a full-scale model of the Parthenon constructed in Buenos Aires by conceptual artist Marta Minujin in 1983.

"Except for a metal scaffolding, it was made almost entirely of books wrapped in plastic," the Times reported. "All the books had been banned by one of the most oppressive juntas in the country's history, which was just being dismantled after Argentina's first democratic election in a decade."

Oh, and when it was dismantled, people got to keep the books.

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Duh.

According to the Times of London, Woolworths "has withdrawn bedroom furniture for young girls bearing the sexually charged name Lolita after a campaign waged by a mothers' online chat room."

A product called the Lolita Midsleeper Combi--and general ignorance on the part of the retailer--caused the controversy. "Whereas many mothers were familiar with Vladimir Nabokov and his famous novel, it seems that the Woolworths staff were not. At first they were baffled by the fuss. A spokesman for the company told the Times: 'What seems to have happened is the staff who run the website had never heard of Lolita, and to be honest no one else here had either. We had to look it up on Wikipedia. But we certainly know who she is now.'"

 


Yen Press: Berrybrook Middle School Box Set by Svetlana Chmakova


Canadian Book Business: An Overview

In Canada, sales online and through non-bookstores are growing, but traditional bookstores "still account for the majority of book sales," according to a Canadian Heritage study of the Canadian book business as analyzed by the Globe & Mail. Annual sales are about $1.5 billion, an amount that has remained flat recently.

Released on the Canadian Heritage website last week, the study called the Book Retail Sector in Canada noted that Indigo, which has 230 stores, represents 44% of national sales--and 67% "if one excludes online and mail-order sales and sales at university and college bookstores."

In Quebec, Archambault and Renaud-Bray, which together have almost 50 stores, account for 44% of book sales in the predominantly French-speaking province.

The report continued: "If an Indigo buyer decides not to carry an individual book, the publisher of that title effectively loses half of the Canadian retail channel." Still, "chain stores are playing an important role in presenting a wide selection of Canadian titles to consumers."

The growth of Indigo and Chapters in the late 1990s led to a decline in the number of independent booksellers, lower publisher wholesale prices and increased discounting at retail on major titles. "Such discounts are now firmly entrenched as a marketing strategy," the study said, reinforced by the strategies of Costco, Wal-Mart and Amazon.ca.

More and more books are being published in Canada--17,000 in 2004 compared to 12,000 in 1996--while readership has remained steady. "The net effect is that a growing number of books are contending for the attention of roughly the same number of book buyers" in "an increasingly saturated media environment," the report said. As a result, "both the average sales per title in Canada and the average print runs in many title categories have been falling in recent years."

 


Ramsey Press: Debt-Free Degree: The Step-By-Step Guide to Getting Your Kid Through College Without Student Loans by Anthony ONeal


Pennie Picks Mr. Lincoln's Wars

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has picked Mr. Lincoln's Wars: A Novel in Thirteen Stories by Adam Braver (Harper Perennial, $13.95, 9780060081195/0060081198) as her pick for February. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she writes:

"I don't know why, but I have always been fascinated by Abraham Lincoln. Sure there are other historic figures who are just as important, but there's something about Lincoln that has captured my imagine for as long as I can remember. . . .

"The stories in this book imagine Lincoln in numerous settings and through the eyes of a variety of people, including a friend, his wife, a young Union soldier and even John Wilkes Booth."

 


KidsBuzz for the Week of 10.21.19


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Daydream Believers

This morning on the Martha Stewart Show: Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart celebrate Valentine's Day with two backlist pop-up tales in sweetheart shades: Reinhart's Cinderella (Little Simon, $25.99, 9781416905011/1416905014) and Sabuda's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Little Simon, $26.99, 9780689847431/0689847432).

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Today on NPR's Fresh Air: New York Times reporter Philip Shenon, author The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation (Twelve, $27, 9780446580755/0446580759).

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Today on the Diane Rehm Show: John Edgar Wideman, author of Fanon (Houghton Mifflin, $24, 9780618942633/0618942637), a novel about the author of The Wretched of the Earth.

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Tomorrow morning on Morning Edition: Jane O'Connor, author of Fancy Nancy: Bonjour, Butterfly (HarperCollins, $16.99, 9780061235887/0061235881).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state and author of Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership (HarperCollins, $26.95, 9780061351808/0061351806).

Also on Diane Rehm: Eric Finkelstein, co-author of The Fattening of America: How the Economy Makes Us Fat, If It Matters, and What to Do About It (Wiley, $26.95, 9780470124666/0470124660).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Fresh Air: Fred Kaplan, author of Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power (Wiley, $25.95, 9780470121184/0470121181).

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Tomorrow on the Late Show with David Letterman: Bob Delaney, NBA referee, former New Jersey state trooper and author of Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob (Union Square Press, $19.95, 9781402754432/1402754434).

 


GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: The Last Flight by Julie Clark



Books & Authors

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

Song Yet Sung: A Novel by James McBride (Riverhead, $25.95, 9781594489723/1594489726). "Escaped slaves, slave catchers, murder--a glimpse into pre-Civil War Maryland. I enjoyed the very realistic picture of the past this novel portrays, together with a dream of the future."--Barbara Rodean, A Likely Story, Sykesville, Md.

Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow (HarperCollins, $22.95, 9780061430220/0061430226). "It's a dog-eat-dog world in Toby Barlow's spellbinding debut novel set in L.A., with a war going on that involves an ancient race of werewolves. There is also an inner story of romance between a werewolf and a local dogcatcher, and all of this intertwines with a Mexican dog-fighting crew looking to exact revenge on the people responsible for the death of its leader. This is an enormously enjoyable and eccentric tale!"--Susan Schlesinger, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, R.I.

Paperback

Rock On: An Office Power Ballad
by Dan Kennedy (Algonquin, $14.95, 9781565125094/1565125096). "Ah, the glamorous life of a midlevel music executive: non-corner offices, awkward meetings between nerds and rock stars, and late-night car service vouchers--not exactly the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll you'd expect. Dan Kennedy tells all in his keenly observed, laugh-out-loud funny, insider's view of the music biz."--Allison Hill, Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif.

For Ages 9 to 12

Elephant Run by Roland Smith (Hyperion, $15.99, 9781423104025/1423104021). "The year is 1941, and Nick's London apartment is bombed. His mother decides Nick would be safer on his father's Burma plantation, but the Japanese march into Burma soon after Nick's arrival and his father is imprisoned. Nick knows he must try to rescue his father and save the plantation. An exciting tale of a little-known part of World War Two."--Diane Betz, Butterfly Books, De Pere, Wis.

[Many thanks to Book Sense and the ABA!]

Amulet Books: Blood Countess (a Lady Slayers Novel) by Lana Popovic


Awards: Discover Great New Writers Finalists

The finalists for Barnes & Noble's 2007 Discover Great New Writers Awards are:

Fiction

  • Matthew Eck, author of The Farther Shore (Milkweed Editions)
  • Joshua Ferris, author of Then We Came to the End (Little, Brown)
  • Vendela Vida, author of Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name (Ecco)

Nonfiction

  • Kate Braestrup, author of Here If You Need Me: A True Story (Little, Brown)
  • Elizabeth D. Samet, author of Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point (FSG)
  • Yaroslav Trofimov, author of The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising in Islam's Holiest Shrine and the Birth of Al Qaeda (Doubleday)

The winners will be announced on Wednesday, February 27. Winners in each category receive a $10,000 prize and a year of addition promotion at B&N. Second-place finalists win $5,000; third-place finalists $2,500.

 


Berkley Books: Master Class by Christina Dalcher


Book Review

Mandahla: The Perfect Scent

The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York by Chandler Burr (Henry Holt & Company, $25.00 Hardcover, 9780805080377, January 2008)



I was skeptical. A book about the creation of two perfumes, one for high-priced Parfums Hermès, searching for a scent that would define its luxe style, the other for Coty teaming with Sarah Jessica Parker to capture an overcrowded celebrity market? And written by someone who is, of all things, the perfume correspondent for the New York Times? Feh! But I was entranced by this fascinating story told with absolutely sublime writing.

Burr makes us care that Hermès is searching for a great perfume, that the house "had flirted with fragrances but had never fully committed." Its perfumes had been its weakest selling product; for a luxury brand house, fragrance sales are essential for financial health. Coty, on the other hand, is a powerhouse licensee who makes perfumes for other brands. "In a difference partly theological, partly quite real, where Hermès was grappling with making its products authentic, Coty was grappling with making its products legitimate." Not easy when your brands include the Olsen twins and Kate Moss.

The Perfect Scent details the entire process, contrasting the development and personalities that eventually produce Un Jardin sur le Nil and Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely. Jean-Claude Ellena is a famous ghost, a perfumer who creates fragrances for designers and luxury houses, hired by Hermès after submitting his essais, olfactory sketches, to the corporation. When Ellena joined Hermès, its annual theme had already been picked: rivers, specifically the Nile, and the name, Un Jardin sur le Nil. Thus Ellena was boxed in from the start, but after a trip to Egypt, while on a small island, he found inspiration in the evanescent scent of green mangoes.

A few months later, Parker contracted with Coty to create her own signature scent. For years she had wanted to create a perfume, and she turned out to be extraordinary, for a celebrity, in her involvement and her knowledge. Coty began by quizzing Parker on her favorite colors and textures and the scents she liked. She had a very specific scent in mind, and they were startled by what she preferred: darkness, mustiness, masculine notes, body odor--dirty and sexy.

Burr can occasionally overwhelm with sensory description ("L'Eau d'Hiver smells of ultrafine ground white pepper and extremely fresh, cold crab taken that instant from the ocean"), but just at the point of over-saturation, something new and intriguing is presented: how perfume bottles are created, why natural scents are difficult (toxic, variable, one-note, often ecologically unsound) or how perfumers now have to develop scents to smell good on paper rather than skin, for shoppers with little time. Or when Burr lets rip with what he really thinks of a scent: "The fact that P&G sells more Hugo Boss-scented product to men [than] almost any other brand contradicts the economic theory of the Invisible Hand . . . and confirms Veblen at his most bitterly cynical." His description of the brand's Number One is scathing and hilarious.

The Perfect Scent is an exquisitely written, absorbing book. You'll be led to the perfume counter with a list of scents to try, curious to see if you can discern the undertones of a swimmer's naked back, the essence of snow or the "bitter orange, citrus, white smoke, and scent of the stratosphere"--and then purchase a fragrance that melts into your skin and whispers beauty.--Marilyn Dahl

KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books:  Power of a Princess (More Than a Princess) by E.D. Baker
KidsBuzz: Windsong Press: The Shockhoe Slip Gang: A Mystery by Patricia Cecil Hass, illustrated by Laura Corson
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