Shelf Awareness for Thursday, February 7, 2008

Balzer & Bray/Harperteen: The Night Is for Darkness by Jonathon Stutzman, illustrated by Joseph Kuefler and Greenwillow Books: Lone Wolf by Sarah Kurpiel

Forge: Lionhearts (Nottingham, 2) by Nathan Makaryk

Zonderkidz: Pugtato Finds a Thing by Sophie Corrigan

Kensington Publishing Corporation: The Suicide House (A Rory Moore/Lane Phillips Novel #2) by Charlie Donlea

Del Rey Books: Malorie: A Bird Box Novel by Josh Malerman


Notes: Keen Keen on Wilderness; Al Roker's Pick

Wilderness Press, Berkeley, Calif., which specializes in books on backpacking, hiking, urban trekking and other outdoor activities, has been sold to Keen Communications, Birmingham, Ala. Keen is the parent company of Menasha Ridge Press, which publishes titles on camping, paddling, hiking, mountain biking and outdoor activities, and Clerisy Press.

Tom Winnett, who founded Wilderness Press in 1967, said that the house "will continue to publish and distribute great outdoor books and maps. We will remain in Berkeley, with the same staff. Our books will still have the Wilderness Press look and feel." Wilderness Press will operate under the direction of associate publisher Roslyn Bullas.

Richard Hunt, head of Clerisy Press, who founded Keen Communications with Menasha Ridge Press's Bob Sehlinger, said in a statement: "Strictly speaking, some will call this an acquisition; we see it more as bringing together two strong companies with complementary lists and letting us go to work on providing more for our readers. We firmly believe that the more people get out into the world around us, the better chance we stand to preserve and protect these national treasures, neighborhood green spaces, and an active way of life."


Al Roker has chosen as the eighth pick of the Today Show Book Club for Kids, Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng (HarperCollins, $6.99 paper, 9780060759766/0060759763; $16.99 hardcover, 9780060514068/006051406X). This launch title in Byng's series introduces an enterprising girl who escapes a British orphanage thanks to a book she discovers on hypnotism. For more, check out the Today Show website.


The Book Industry Study Group and the Idea Logical Company have begun a project "to measure and document the extent of experimentation and innovation taking place in publishing today." For more information and to take part in the survey, go to Survey Monkey.

Presentations based on the survey and other sources will be made at BISG's annual Making Information Pay seminar, to be held this year on May 9.


Effective immediately, National Book Network is distributing Audio Realms, Chapel Hill, N.C., which publishes audiobooks on science fiction, fantasy and horror, including stories by classic and modern writers like H.P. Lovecraft, Michael Moorcock and Robert E. Howard.


Arsen Kashkashian, head book buyer at Boulder Book Store, Boulder, Colo., is one of our favorite bloggers, and New West agrees, recommending Kash's Book Corner as a literary web destination: "I started reading Kash's Book Corner and am now addicted--he doesn't update as frequently as some literary bloggers, but each post is a carefully reasoned, well-written essay, packed with interesting tidbits and insights into the world of independent book stores."


To celebrate the publication of Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure by Larry Smith (Harper Perennial, $12, 9780061374050/0061374059), Carl Lennertz is encouraging people to send in six-word biographies of themselves. He promises to send "something" back. For more information, check out Publishing Insider. (incidentally Smith is on Talk of the Nation today.)


From Aimee Mann: Couldn't cope so I wrote songs.
From Joyce Carol Oates: Revenge is living well, without you.
From Elizabeth Gilbert: Me see world! Me write stories!

And our own contribution:

Carl Lennertz: Mr. Bookseller, WRITES lke This sumtimes!!!


Barney's Used Book Store, Baxter, Ark., has opened for business, according to the Baxter Bulletin. New owners Janice and Albert Bradley purchased the business from Mildred White. Janice had been manager of the bookshop, formerly known as Barney's Book Store No. 3.


The Guardian offered eight rules authors should follow to avoid scandals:

  1. Do not use the word "memoir" unless you mean it.
  2. If you're not sure whether what you're writing is a memoir or not, guess what? It's a novel.
  3. No more than half a page of plagiarism per book.
  4. Don't make up exact dates that you can't remember. Instead, be general: "The most important day of my life was the day of my son's birth, in the summer of 2005 . . . "
  5. Just say no to sending a friend out in public with a wig as you.
  6. If you're in a flame war and you're about to go sock puppet, take a 10-minute break and go to a coffee shop without a wi-fi facility. Maybe the walk will cool you down.
  7. Go ahead and make up dialogue. Everybody except Tom Wolfe does.
  8. Pick a name. "Benjamin Black is John Banville" is just not a good look.


Joe R. Lansdale and Ardath Mayhar have been named Toastmaster and Author Emeritus, respectively, by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America for the 2008 Nebula Awards Weekend April 25-27 in Austin, Tex. Coincidentally both authors live in Nacogdoches, Tex.

Lansdale was cited by the association as "one of the most thoroughly Texan authors writing today." He has won a variety of mystery, fantasy and horror awards for his more than two dozen novels, short story collections and anthologies.

The SFWA said that Mayhar, author of 61 novels and many shorts stories and poems, is "widely known for her sweet, grandmotherly appearance which belies a quick wit and fast tongue." Her books span a variety of genres, including sf, fantasy, westerns, horror and contemporary fiction.


Sara Schneider has been named associate director of publicity of Cave Henricks Communications, a media relations and consulting firm for authors, and will head the company's digital media division. She was formerly an account executive. She joined the agency, which was formed a year ago, after working at Villard Books, Avalon Publishing Group, Dutton Books, the Free Press and PR21 (now Zeno Group), a subsidiary of Edelman Public Relations, where she worked with technology and new media companies.

Dennis Welch, Cave Henricks Communications's v-p and publicity director, will head the agency's Christian program. Earlier he was a senior staff writer and director of marketing for the Gallup Organization's Faith division for 12 years.


How about three credits for reading Oprah's Book Club picks? British students will be allowed to choose some of the books they read for English A-level. The Daily Mail reported that there are fears "the move could lead to a fall in standards after it emerged that the exam board involved is encouraging schools to consider titles featured on Richard & Judy's Book Club."


Belgrade is book crazy. According to Balkan Travellers, "whether from a nostalgia for its existence as an imperial centre or as an escape from reality, the literary obsession of the Serbian capital grows with every passing season. . . . While in Rome nightlife is based around the fountains, in Amsterdam around the beer locales and in Southern France around the bistros, in Serbia's capital the night begins and ends among books."

Not all booklovers' options are positive ones, however: "Beside simply bad literature, there are also examples that chill to the bones--one of the centrally-located bookstores until today specialises in the sale of books oriented against various ethnic and religious groups on the Balkans."


Atheneum Books: Saucy by Cynthia Kadohata, illustrated by Marianna Raskin

Cool Idea of the Day: Off-Peak Hogwarts Day

This coming Saturday, the Stately Raven Bookstore, Findlay, Ohio, which opened last August, is hosting Hogwarts Day, the Toledo Blade reported. The "centerpiece" of the day will be a presentation by three professors at Tiffin University who will discuss "Magical Spaces in a Muggle World," the topic of papers they delivered last year at a Harry Potter conference in New Orleans. The talk is geared toward older children and adults and touches on literary traditions in the series and how the books straddle the real and magical worlds. In addition, the store, owned by Mike Cole, will have a costume contest and screen Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.


University of Minnesota Press: Listening: Interviews, 1970-1989 by Jonathon Cott

Winter Institute: Self Audits; Growing Your Business

Bookstore Self Audit 

Two very brave booksellers--Sylla McClellan, owner of Third Street Books in McMinnville, Ore., and Wendy Hudson, owner of Nantucket Bookworks in Nantucket, Mass.--opened themselves up to public scrutiny during the illuminating session Bookstore Self Audit: A Critical Look at Your Own Operations, intended to draw booksellers' attention to details they may overlook in the day-to-day running of their shops.

On a questionnaire, McClellan and Hudson evaluated their stores by seven criteria: ambiance; convenience; service; financial health; inventory; price; and marketing. (ABA members may get their own copy of the self-audit and other Winter Institute handouts by contacting the ABA's Kristen Vlahos at

Both booksellers looked at their shops critically, but at the same time, recognized what makes their stores special. McClellan took a store that was low on inventory and style and created a highly merchandized, warm space that she feels is meeting her goals.

Hudson also took an existing store and stamped it with her own imprint, while keeping the community in mind. Both stores carry a wide variety of sidelines (from plush animals and puzzles to silk scarves and jewelry), which not only makes the space more creative and colorful, but also boosts the bottom line.

The two booksellers emphasized the convenience factor as important to the success of their stores, including the ever-challenging search for parking and expanding store hours. They agreed that staffing and training were very important.

McClellan trains staff to understand every detail of the business. She takes each new employee on a tour of the shop, beginning on the street in front of shop, explaining every decision she's made about the store. The "whys" are just as important as the "hows." This not only helps staff members understand the operations better but gives them a sense of appreciation for the detailed thought that has gone into the shop.

Most evident from the session was that there are universal best practices to consider in any self audit, and each store needs to cater to its community. The importance of the self-evaluations was clearly evident in the things the booksellers learned about themselves.  

Hudson said that "the exercise was useful on many levels, but most important for us in hindsight was that it was a great way to open a dialogue with staff by getting their feedback. Then we could involve everyone in looking at ways to improve the store and to make some real changes. Exciting stuff!"

McClellan also gained a new focus and thoughts about how to go forward. "The self audit is a tool that we should use periodically to review aspects of our store that may escape our attention during day-to-day operations," she commented. "I like the idea of having senior staff (or my whole staff) do the self audit as I may see things from a totally different perspective."

Growing Your Business

At the beginning of Growing Your Business--Why, When and How, moderator Avin Domnitz, the ABA's CEO, made a convincing plea for members to file ABACUS numbers. Through this financial audit, booksellers can understand better many aspects of their bookstores, including when to expand. (To learn about the confidential ABACUS report, a tool available only to ABA members that creates benchmarks for the measurements of store operations, visit

The focus of the session was on booksellers learning the right time to expand their business, whether it's buying a new building, renovating an existing store or shifting the emphasis of the business.

Domnitz pointed to Maria's Bookshop in Durango, Colo., as a shining example of a shop that built out its space to maximize business. Co-owner Andrea Avantaggio explained that she and her husband, Peter Schertz, re-designed their store to create a better selling and working environment, within their budget and with strategic planning.

By focusing on four main areas to determine the health of a store--sales, margins, compensation and occupancy--you can determine when the right time is to expand. Noting that the average bookstore becomes profitable at about $500,000 in sales, Domnitz emphasized the "sweet spot" is $750,000 to $1 million in sales.
At this point, a store is able to have better selections, improved systems, smarter procedures and an improved business model. It's the perfect environment to take a look around and see how to create an even better store. Domnitz commented, "Take time to re-examine issues when things are going well. When things are calm, it's time for you to get a little nervous and get busy." Knowing when to expand is both an art and a science, he added.

Gayle Shanks of Changing Hands in Tempe, Ariz., noted that she brought in an expert to help determine the best expansion plan and said that the money she spent on consultants saved her so much in the long run.

Domnitz suggested using an "unemotional consultant"--someone not personally involved in the business--who can help create a clear vision.

A lively discussion ensued as many in the audience shared their experiences--from opening new shops with different names in different communities to create a new reputation, to opening shops in the same neighborhood to increase customer service.--Susan L. Weis


AuthorBuzz for the Week of 06.01.20

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Marching Toward Hell

This week WETA's Author, Author! features an interview with Garrett Graff, author of The First Campaign: Globalization, the Web, and the Race for the White House (FSG, $25, 9780374155032/0374155038).


Today on Talk of the Nation: Larry Smith, author of Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure (Harper Perennial, $12, 9780061374050/0061374059).


Sunday on Meet the Press: Michael Scheuer, author of Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq (Free Press, $27, 9780743299695/0743299698).


Disney-Hyperion: The Mirror Broken Wish (Mirror #1) by Julie C. Dao

Movies: Spiderwick Chronicles Creep in on Valentine's Day

The Spiderwick Chronicles, based on the book series (of the same name) by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, opens on Thursday, February 14. Sarah Bolger and Freddie Highmore (in a double-role) star as Mallory and twins Jared and Simon Grace. They, together with their mother, played by Mary Louise Parker, notice strange goings-on when they move into the antiquated home formerly owned by their great, great uncle Arthur Spiderwick. Mark Waters directs.

The movie tie-in editions are available now from Simon & Schuster and Simon Spotlight: The Spiderwick Chronicles Official Movie Companion ($8.99, 9781416950929/1416950923); The Spiderwick Chronicles Movie Storybook ($8.99, 9781416949473/141694947X); The Spiderwick Chronicles Movie Sticker Book ($6.99, 9781416949503/141694950X); Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You Movie Tie-in Edition ($24.99, 9781416960959/1416960953); The Spiderwick Chronicles Movie Tie-In Box Set ($49.99, 9781416950165/1416950168); The Field Guide: Movie Tie-In Edition ($10.99, 9781416950172/1416950176); Seeing Stone: Movie Tie-In Edition ($10.99, 9781416950189/1416950184); Lucinda's Secret: Movie Tie-In Edition ($10.99, 9781416950196/1416950192); Ironwood Tree: Movie Tie-In Edition ($10.99, 9781416950202/1416950206); Wrath of Mulgarath: Movie Tie-In Edition ($10.99, 9781416950219/1416950214).


This Weekend on Book TV: First Class Citizenship

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, February 9
12 p.m. Thomas Henriksen, author of American Power After the Berlin Wall (Palgrave Macmillan, $74.95, 9780230600942/0230600948), discusses U.S. foreign policy after the fall of Communism, including U.S involvement in Panama, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.)

1 p.m. David Blight, author of Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom (Harcourt, $25, 9780151012329/0151012326), chronicles the lives of two former slaves, Wallace Turnage and John Washington, whose narratives of emancipation were recently discovered. (Re-airs Saturday at 10 p.m. and Saturday, February 16, at 8 a.m.)

6 p.m. Encore Book Notes. In a segment first aired in 1990, Thomas Sowell, author of Preferential Policies: An International Perspective, argued that government-mandated affirmative action programs often assist the more fortunate in a targeted group and are designed to promote specific political agendas.

9 p.m. After Words. Kevin Merida, associate editor of the Washington Post, interviews Michael Long, editor of First Class Citizenship: The Civil Rights Letters of Jackie Robinson (Times Books, $26, 9780805087109/0805087109). This collection of Robinson's personal correspondence ranges from the time of his integration into major league baseball through his involvement with the civil rights movement and national politics. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., and Monday at 12 a.m.)

Sunday, February 10
11:15 a.m. At a book reception hosted by radio personality Armstrong Williams, Ben Carson, author of Take the Risk: Learning to Identify, Choose, and Live with Acceptable Risk (Zondervan, $19.99, 9780310259732/0310259738), contends that most people don't take enough risks in life, and when they do, they take the wrong risks. (Re-airs Sunday at 8:15 p.m.)


Book Review

Children's Review: Little Hoot

Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Chronicle Books, $14.99 Hardcover, 9780811860239, December 2007)

Little Hoot is a hero any parent could love: he is a "happy little fellow" who enjoys school and plays well with others. He even enjoys practicing "pondering" and staring, two essential talents for an owlet. A trio of time-lapse illustrations conveys the feathered fellow honing his skills, as Corace captures the spirit of these bird-like movements. But his obstinance surfaces when all of Little Hoot's friends go to sleep, and he must remain awake--the drawback of being a nocturnal creature: "All my other friends get to go to bed so much earlier than me! Why do I always have to stay up and play? It's not fair!" says he. "I don't give a hoot what time your friends go to bed. In this family, we go to bed late," Papa Owl responds. Little Hoot's crossed wings and narrowed eyes depict just what he thinks about his father laying down the law. As in this team's Little Pea, the hero convincingly takes a stand against something most children dream of (eating candy for dinner, delaying bedtime). When his mother tells him, "Stay up and play for one more hour and then you can go to sleep," a spread of good old-fashioned imaginative play follows, in which Little Hoot wields swords, builds a fort and jumps into piles of leaves, all with eyes drooping. He even falls asleep before his bedtime story. The closing image of Mama and Papa Owl looking on as Little Hoot sleeps provides reassurance that his parents will always be there for him, even if they disagree.--Jennifer M. Brown


AuthorBuzz: Revell: An Appalachian Summer by Ann H. Gabhart
AuthorBuzz: Radius Book Group: The 24-Hour Soup Kitchen: Soul-Stirring Lessons in Gastrophilanthropy by Stephen Henderson
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