Shelf Awareness for Friday, February 8, 2008

Dutton Books: A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor (The Carls #2) by Hank Green

HP Piazza: Regain Control of Your Publishing Content - Register Now

Post Hill Press: Personality Wins: Who Will Take the White House and How We Know by Merrick Rosenberg and Richard Ellis

Walrus Publishing: I Will Be Okay by Bill Elenbark

Parson Weems Publisher Services - Click Here!


Notes: Students Open Store in Haverhill; BAM's New Marketer

The resurgence of downtown Haverhill, Mass., has been missing one key ingredient--a bookshop--but soon that void will be filled by an enterprising group of local high school students. According to the Eagle-Tribune, students in Haverhill High's Learning for Life program will open the Book Cellar, a new and used bookstore.

"This city needs a bookstore," said sophomore William Pina. "I think our store will be a great opportunity for kids to learn about selling books."


Karla Wiles has joined Books-A-Million as v-p of marketing. She was formerly executive v-p and director of client services at o2 ideas, inc, a marketing communications firm in Birmingham, Ala., and worked on a variety of retail brands such as Saks Department Store Group, Mervyn's, Intuit, Giant Foods, Verizon Wireless and the Home Depot.


We knew books could be dangerous, but . . .

Police are searching for a man who tried to send a noteworthy package of books to Paris, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. A UPS Store clerk "was preparing to ship the plastic-wrapped books on Jan. 31 when she noticed that one of the hardbacks rattled, according to police reports. The woman shook the book and spotted a gun part slipping through the pages."

A subsequent police search revealed that the books contained "a disassembled Beretta handgun, three loaded magazines and two boxes of 9mm ammunition hidden in hollowed copies of Richard Tarnas' Cosmos and Psyche, Isaac Asimov's Chronology of the World and a communications text."


Bestselling author Paulo Coelho spends three hours a day online, corresponding with his readers by e-mail and updating his Flickr, MySpace and blog sites. One of Coelho's other online activities has stirred up some controversy, according to Newsweek.

The author "likes to promote pirated copies of his own books. At the recent Digital, Life, Design Conference in Munich, Coelho told a gathering of tech company CEOs, artists and designers that since 2005 he's been directing his readers to an online site where they can download his books, in languages from German to Japanese, for free."

Said Coelho: "I always thought that when, at the beginning of your career, you strive to be read, you can't change your mind later and become greedy about it."


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

Cool Idea of the Day: Valentine's Day Mixer

The Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass., is sponsoring a Valentine's Day singles event next Thursday, featuring "wine and cheese around the fireplace" and a short program about some of the staff's favorite books, the Andover Townsman reported.


GLOW: Inkyard Press: Come On In: 15 Stories about Immigration and Finding Home edited by Adi Alsaid

Breaking Dawn to Release at Midnight

Party time.

Breaking Dawn, the fourth and final book in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga, will be released at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, August 2.

There will be much more Meyer between now and then.

On May 6, Little, Brown will publish The Host, Meyer's first novel for adults, with a 500,000-copy first printing. Meyer will go on a 10-city tour for the book.

On May 31, during BEA, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers will release a special edition of Eclipse, the third book in the Twilight Saga, which includes cover art for Breaking Dawn and its first chapter, both of which will be made public for the first time. Also on May 31, the company is releasing the trade paperback of New Moon, the second book in the series.


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

General Retail Sales: A Chilly January

In January sales at general retailers were the worst "in almost four decades," the New York Times reported, a result of higher food and energy prices as well as the effects of the subprime mortgage debacle: tighter credit, a slowing housing market and job losses. One indicator of tough times: many people redeeming gift cards have been using them for basic items.

January sales rose 0.5%, according to a UBS-International Council of Shopping Centers and 0.3% according to a Thomson Financial index.

Not surprisingly, discounters and warehouse clubs fared the best although even some of those retailers had difficulties. Sales at Costco stores open at least a year rose 7% and Wal-Mart rose 0.5%. Target was off 1.1%, and Kohl's fell 8.3%.

For department stores and mall clothing stores January was the cruelest month: comp-store sales at Nordstrom declined 6.6% and Macy's fell 7.1%. Even luxury department store company Saks, which had a sales gain of 4.1%, noted that shoppers were spending more on sales items.

The International Council of Shopping Centers predicted that 5,770 retail locations will close this year, a 25% jump over 2007 and the highest amount since 2004.


Some U.S. retailers are increasing efforts to sell online to shoppers abroad, the Wall Street Journal reported. The aim is to reach consumers in countries with stronger economies who will also be attracted by the weak U.S. dollar. In addition, the Journal noted that "using the Internet to build a presence abroad is far less costly--and can be accomplished much more quickly--than building stores."

Saks Fifth Avenue, which last fall began shipping outside the U.S. in a pilot program, said that its typical foreign buyer spends 20%-30% more per order than the typical U.S. customer.

However, logistics are complicated by taxes, duties, shipping, payment processing and higher returns rates in some areas.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Daydream Believer

Today on All Things Considered: Fred Kaplan, author of Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power (Wiley, $25.95, 9780470121184/0470121181).


Books & Authors

Image of the Day: Bookseller in Need of Feng Shui Tips

This is the view from the desk of Brian Doerter, central electronic order placement specialist, at Powell's main Burnside store in Portland, Ore.





Book Brahmin: Robert Leleux

Robert Leleux is the author of The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy, a comedy about his parents' divorce recently published by St. Martin's Press. His articles have appeared in, among others, the New York Times Magazine and the Texas Observer. He lives, quite happily, in Manhattan with his husband, Michael.  

On your nightstand now:

The Letters of Noel Coward edited by Barry Day; Full Gallop by Mark Hampton and Mary Louise Wilson; The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett; The Heart Has Its Reasons by Wallis Simpson; and (to round it all out) War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges. Honestly, the last is just there to cushion my conscience--I find it terribly hard to curb my native frivolity, even in wartime.

Favorite books when you were a child:

Jane Eyre, Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer. Those marvelous adventure stories--elegantly written and so terribly exciting. Who can ever forget the madwoman in the attic or the black spot or Injun Joe?  And isn't it the most wonderful feeling to grow up and discover that the stories you adored as a child really are as wonderful as you ever thought they were?

Your top five authors:

Here're five, and then some: E. M. Forster, Truman Capote, Jessica Mitford, Cole Porter, Noel Coward, Molly Ivins, Nora Ephron, Caroline Blackwood, Liz Smith, Wendy Wasserstein . . . Without wit, life is too short and books are too long.  

Book you've faked reading:  

Anything instructional, particularly those criminal little books printed on cheap paper that presume to tell you how to do something with a machine. They're the literary equivalent of baggage inspectors or any other kind of low-level bureaucrat. Humorless, anxiety inspiring and dull dull dull.    
Books you are an evangelist for:

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith and Splendora by Edward Swift. Two sweet-hearted, funny, deeply moving books that are as good as anything, deserve to be world famous, but, inexplicably, aren't.
Book you've bought for the cover:

Once Upon a Time by Slim Aarons and so many other cripplingly expensive coffee table books that are supposed to lounge about your house, in order to make it look something (anything) like the decadent photos they contain.
Books that changed your life:

Howards End
, Hons and Rebels, A Fine Old Conflict, The Member of the Wedding, Music for Chameleons, Heartburn, The White Album, Katharine Graham's Personal History, Gloria Steinem's Revolution from Within . . .
Favorite line from a book:

That great Nancy Mitford line from Love in a Cold Climate, which goes something like, "To have one's cake and eat it, too, which, after all, is the point of life."
Book you most wish you'd written:

Anything by Caroline Blackwood or any of those galloping Mitfords (except the Nazis). Very few writers achieve glamour and literature simultaneously. Who ever said great writers must be bookish creatures?   

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Jane Eyre, again and again and again. Jane's coup still astounds me. By the end of the book, she gets herself, her fella and every reader's heart. Who could ask for anything more?



Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Postcard from AWP NYC 2008

Dear Book World,

The Association of Writers & Writing Programs Annual Conference & Bookfair was held last week in New York. I had a great time. Wish you'd been there.

During a panel discussion last Thursday, I heard author Susan Cheever say, "Catharsis is not what the writer is supposed to have. Catharsis is what the reader is supposed to have." She also said that the relationship between writers and their readers is "like an unrequited love affair." And she said, "Good writing is not self-expression; it's communication."

At the same moment, 15 other panels were taking place at the Hilton and Sheraton hotels in midtown Manhattan, all part of an ongoing, relatively moveable literary feast that had begun Wednesday and would continue through Saturday. Each day, dozens of these panels and readings occurred. In addition, three floors of the Hilton were devoted to the book fair.

In its brochure, AWP invited me to "join the national literary conversation," promising "nonstop literary commotion!"

I had been to AWP before; I'm a writer, I have an MFA and I teach a bit. The business of books, however, is also a big part of my life, so my perspective is skewed. I'm accustomed to book shows and conferences where the dominant species are publishers and booksellers. But all these writers in one place? What a concept. Weeks before the event, AWP had to suspend pre-registration due to hyper-demand. More than 8,000 people attended.

You want "commotion?" The conference brochure promised we could "choose from more than 300 literary readings, lectures and panel discussions on contemporary literature, the craft of writing, publishing and teaching. Browse through AWP's Bookfair, featuring 500 literary presses, journals, editors and publishers. Network with your peers at dozens of parties, dances and literary receptions."

John Irving gave the keynote address. Authors were everywhere, ranging from the famous--Joyce Carol Oates, Mark Strand, A.S. Byatt, Russell Banks, Martin Amis, Amy Hempel, Robert Pinsky--to the midlist (well, let's not name names) to the slightly published and unpublished.

In a way, writers have a home at the AWP conference. They are among friends, give or take. They work; they play. In The Shining, Jack Nicholson's character wrote, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" over and over. If only he'd gone to AWP instead of the Overlook Hotel, he could have had the best of both worlds. The conference is as much a social as an educational event, but--and this is where my business side takes over--it is also a fascinating showcase for publishers.

At the AWP Bookfair, independent and university presses dominated. For those of us who attend BookExpo, this is a nice change. Small presses weren't tucked away in dark corners or at the end of unexplored aisles. Even literary journals got to shine. Although some of the big publishing houses were represented, including Random House, HarperCollins and Penguin, their booths were suitably modest.

Gradually, as I roamed the book fair, exhibitors' names began to seem like a found poem: Five Fingers Review, Red Hen Press, Ugly Duckling Press, Toadlily Press, Wordfarm, Tinfish Press, Cave Wall, So to Speak, Bound Off, Slack Buddha Press, New Sins Press, Chicory Blue Press, Bat City Review, Tarpaulin Sky, Sheep Meadow Press, Opium Den, Skidrow Penthouse, Pavement Saw Press, Small Beer Press . . .

The exhibition halls were crowded and noisy; it's hard to define the particular sound of those synchronous conversations.


That seems appropriate because the din emanated from passion--a curious, irresistible blend of ambition and devotion. Words mattered in that place. And I loved the fact that I saw more young faces than old. I could, if I weren't a fatalist by nature and nurture, have almost felt optimistic.

Controversy exists about the increasing number of writers and decreasing number of readers in our world. MFA in Writing degrees get their share of abuse, and MFAs weren't in short supply among this crowd. Undoubtedly, writers were "on the make" at AWP, looking for connections, for a way in. But reading mattered there, too; maybe just as much, or close enough in these perilous days.

"Catharsis is what the reader is supposed to have," said Susan Cheever. I like the sound of that, and its potential for reverberation. Actually, when Susan mentioned readers and love and communication, I thought quite suddenly that she would have made one hell of a bookseller.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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