Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Bloomsbury YA: Dreamland (YA Edition): The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones

Balzer & Bray: The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy

Rick Riordan Presents: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1) by Kwame Mbalia

Magination Press: Trans+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You by Kathryn Gonzales and Karen Rayne

Sourcebooks Explore: Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children by Kath Shackleton, illustrated by Zane Wittingham

Central Avenue Publishing: Into Captivity They Will Go by Noah Milligan

Carolrhoda Books: A Time Traveler's Theory of Relativity by Nicole Valentine

News

Notes: Borders Sale in Oz O.K.; Bookstore Passages

After delaying a decision several times last year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced today that it does not oppose the sale of Borders's Australian operations to Pacific Equity Partners, the private equity firm that owns A&R Whitcoulls Group, Reuters reported. Because A&R Whitcoulls operates 182 Angus & Robertson stores in Australia, there was some concern that consumers would be adversely affected. In essence, the commission found that there is enough competition in book retailing to mitigate any anticompetitive results of the sale, part of Borders's divestment of many of its international properties.

One concern of the ACCC, according to Bookseller & Publisher Magazine's Weekly Book Newsletter, was that A&R prices many of its books above suggested retail and might do away with some of Borders's discounts. But the commission noted that Borders also sells some titles above retail price, and other stores "will be in a position to highlight their lower prices and win customers from Borders and Angus & Robertson if they attempt to increase prices further."

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After 37 years in business, Amazon Bookstore Cooperative, Minneapolis, Minn., is for sale. The Pioneer Press reported that Barb Wieser, general manager for 21 years, is leaving and "none of the staff are in a position to take it over . . . so the cooperative members have decided to sell. They hope to find a buyer by this summer who will carry on the vision of the store or recreate it into a vision of their own."

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The Bookshop in Venice, Fla., is closing later this month, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

Jenn Hardacre, who has managed the store for her parents, store owners Ron and Nancy Garland, said that the couple are closing the Bookshop for personal reasons, adding that chains and Amazon made it hard to compete.

She and her parents "didn't know anything about the book business," when they bought the store, Hardacre said. As a result, Hardacre and her mother went to industry conferences to find out more about the business and "learned by trial and error."

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On Wednesday, February 27, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., wholesaler BookStream, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., is hosting an event for booksellers in East Hartford, Conn. Called TitleWave, the event features a lunch with three authors as well as presentations of new titles and handselling tips from BookStream staff. Booksellers will be invited to share their favorite reads and bestselling titles. The authors participating in the launch are: Steve Toltz, author of Fraction of the Whole (Spiegel & Grau); Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound (Algonquin); and Richard Price, author of Lush Life (FSG).

For more information, contact sales rep Carolyn Bennett at 845-790-7807 or carolyn.bennett@bookstream.com. or Jessica Stockton Bagnulo at 917-539-0186 or jessica.stockton.bagnulo@bookstream.com.

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Vietnamese booksellers expressed doubt regarding the country's recent fourth-place Nielsen ranking for most books sold on the Internet, according to Viet Nam News. In the survey of 26,312 people from 48 countries, only South Korea, Germany and Austria were ranked higher (Shelf Awareness, January 29, 2008).

But Nguyen Viet Hien, director of the IT department at HCM City’s Books Distribution Company, argued that the amount of books that company sold online "accounted for only one-fiftieth of their entire sales."

"There are many reasons for this, but the main obstacles remain methods of payment and delivery," he said. "The results from the Nielsen Company are just from one angle of the issue. It's OK if someone wants to be optimistic."

And Nguyen Thanh Van An, director of Vinabook.com--which VNN called "the biggest online book supplier in Viet Nam"--said, "The survey may have focused only on white-collar staff, which does not reflect the reality of online book trading in Viet Nam."

 


Mango: The Restaurant Diet: How to Eat Out Every Night and Still Lose Weight by Fred Bollaci


Winter Institute: RFID on the Radar

In a session about RFID--radio frequency identification-- Jim Lichtenberg, president of Lightspeed and long a proponent of RFID in bookstores and libraries, gave a brief history of the technology, which he defined as "somewhat counterintuitive." RFID "connects computers to objects that self-identify." The most familiar use of RFID is in car toll transponders like E-ZPass. Lichtenberg emphasized that an RFID tag is not "hot," but when it comes into an electromagnetic field that scans it, the tag "wakes up and generates a signal" that contains information that has been programmed into it.

RFID has been and will be used for a range of uses beyond warehousing and retail and highway tolls: for example, in airplane engine assembly (to see if all pieces are there) and on surgical instruments (to make sure none are left behind in patients!).

(Incidentally although we've heard much about RFID, we learned from Lichtenberg that it has its origins during World War II in the Royal Air Force's development of a "big box" that it installed in its airplanes so it could identify them in the sky.)

Lichtenberg made some general arguments for RFID in the book world. "Every time a book moves [through the supply chain] there is lots of friction," he said. "It's an expensive process. RFID reduces that friction." The Long Tail will lead to sales of more and more different titles and more books shipments--increasing the friction.

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RFID tags in books can be put inside during manufacture or added afterwards. So far, in the libraries and bookstores that use RFID technology, the tags are added to books after they are printed. Lichtenberg said that the industry "can't get hung up on the costs of the tags or readers," which will continue to drop. RFID will "really sing" when all tags are put in books when they're printed. "Printers are saying that inserting a tag doesn't change the process at all," Lichtenberg continued.

RFID raises privacy issues, but in the book world tags contain a minimal amount of data and don't record any personal information, such as who has purchased a book or where the book goes. "Privacy is important in the book business," Lichtenberg said.

Lichtenberg recounted the adoption of RFID technology by bookseller BGN in the Netherlands, which has been well documented in Shelf Awareness (October 3, 2006 and March 8, 2007), the latter a report by Lichtenberg himself!

At BGN in the Netherlands, a half dozen stores are using RFID, and the rest of the company's more than 40 stores are being converted. So far, the retailer estimates that in its RFID stores, the reliability of stock has risen to 97.5% from 65%; sales have grown 5% because logistics are so much more accurate and easy; and daily shrinkage has been reduced by 60%.

Lichtenberg added that he read recently that a bookstore in Lisbon, Portugal, has begun using RFID. "They have 40 kiosks and have divided the store into 2,000 zones that they monitor. There are also 14 RFID point-of-sale stations in the store."

Among the many possibilities RFID in bookstores create:

  • Because "smart shelves" tell where a book is, standard categories in shelving aren't necessary. "Stores can come up with other categories" and be creative, Lichtenberg said.
  • RFID can illuminate customers' behavior. It can show "how they flow through the store, where they stop, what they pick up, which area sells the most, how these things change during the year." As a result, booksellers can design stores "for the way customers behave, not the way you think they behave."
  • Customers can check themselves out.
  • The tags can be used for antitheft purposes and don't require huge security bars. Instead, "tag readers can be set into doorways."

In March or April there will be "a big meeting" of people in the book business in the U.S. to discuss how to do an RFID pilot that would take place as soon as "early 2009," Lichtenberg estimated.--John Mutter

 


Charlesbridge Publishing: Baby Loves the Five Senses by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chan


Crown Creates Central Online Sales and Marketing Department

The Crown Publishing Group of Random House is establishing an online sales and marketing department will have five major areas: online marketing and media, creative development, web production, project management and analysis. Robert Manger, director of direct and online sales and marketing, will head the department, which will serve all of Crown's trade book, travel, reference, strategy guides, gift and audio businesses.

"The Internet and the myriad ways it gives us to reach our customers, directly and through our existing bookselling partners, is one of the greatest revolutions--and opportunities--in our business," Jenny Frost, president and publisher of the Crown Publishing Group, commented in announcing the department. "This new online sales and marketing group will enable each of our businesses to strategize, design, and implement dedicated programs to market our books and products and to monetize our businesses in this environment."

She added that the department centralizes "the collective experience and skill sets of many talented individuals working in different areas of the group on these initiatives." The department will work closely with Crown publishers and marketing departments.

Department staff includes Jacob Bronstein, associate director, and Ian Wallace, manager.  Jinny Kwon, art director, will become a member of the creative development team. Mark Laroche, director, will oversee web production with Dan Vecchitto, associate producer, on his staff. Trish Dublin, project manager, will head the project management team.

 


imon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Max & Ruby and Twin Trouble (Max and Ruby Adventure) BY Rosemary Wells


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kathleen Turner's Roses

Today on Fresh Air: professor Kwame Anthony Appiah, author of Experiments in Ethics (Harvard University Press, $22.95, 9780674026094/0674026098).

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Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Timothy Knight, author of Great Kisses: . . . and Famous Lines Right Out of the Movies (HarperEntertainment, $12.95, 9780061438899/0061438898).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Kathleen Turner, author of Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles (Springboard Press, $24.99, 9780446581127/0446581127). Turner has a cameo on the View tomorrow, too.

Also on Today: Ian Kerner, author of Sex Detox (Collins, $24.95, 9780061136078/0061136077).

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Tomorrow on the Martha Stewart Show: Charles Phoenix, author of Americana the Beautiful: Mid-Century Culture in Kodachrome (Angel City Press, $35, 97818833185431883318548) and Southern California in the '50s: Sun, Fun and Fantasy (Angel City Press, $35, 9781883318499/1883318491), who shares his vintage Valentine's Days slides chronicling mid-20th century American holiday culture.

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Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Anne Enright, author of The Gathering (Grove, $24, 9780802118738/0802118739).

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Cees Nooteboom, author of Lost Paradise translated by Susan Massotty (Grove, $23, 9780802118554/0802118550). As the show put it, "In this duel of interpretations, Dutch writer Nooteboom (who has been repeatedly shortlisted for the Nobel Prize) shows the whipper-snapper [Bookworm host] Michael Silverblatt that there are simpler, clearer, realer reasons for the angels in Lost Paradise than the over-interpreting Silverblatt wants to believe."

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Tomorrow on WNYC's Leonard Leopate Show: Ben Karlin, author of Things I've Learned From Women Who've Dumped Me (Grand Central Publishing, $23.99, 9780446580694/0446580694).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Fresh Air: Bart D. Ehrman, author of God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question--Why We Suffer (HarperOne, $25.95, 9780061173974/0061173975).

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Tomorrow on the View: Charla Krupp, author of How Not to Look Old: Fast and Effortless Ways to Look 10 Years Younger, 10 Pounds Lighter, 10 Times Better (Springboard Press, $25.99, 9780446581141/0446581143)

 


Charlesbridge Publishing: Sumokitty by David Biedrzycki


Books & Authors

Awards: Sami Rohr; Kingsley Tufts

Lucette Lagnado, a senior special writer and investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal, has won the $100,000 2008 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for her memoir, The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World (Ecco).

The Jewish Book Council, which administers the award, noted: "In the memoir, Lagnado chronicles her family's heartbreaking tale of their exodus from Egypt and eventual resettling in Brooklyn. Through The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, Lagnado has shed light on the untold stories of the nearly one million Jewish refugees across the Middle East, cast out from homelands they cherished and longed to return to until their deaths."

The winners of the 2008 $7,500 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature Choice Awards are:

  • Ilana M. Blumberg for Houses of Study: A Jewish Woman Among Books (University of Nebraska Press)
  • Eric L. Goldstein for The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race and American Identity (Princeton University Press)

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Tom Sleigh, who teaches in the creative writing program at Hunter College, has won the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for Space Walk (Houghton Mifflin), the New York Times reported. The award recognizes "a work by an emerging poet, one who is past the very beginning but has not yet reached the acknowledged pinnacle of his or her career."

 


Atheneum Books: Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Alexander Nabaum



Book Review

Book Review: Gang Leader for a Day

Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets by Sudhir Venkatesh (Penguin Press, $25.95 Hardcover, 9781594201509, January 2008)



Every blue moon a book comes along so different and original that you read it in shock. Gang Leader for a Day is a refreshing assault on all your old assumptions about gang life, a brave young man's personal study of urban poverty that's as emotionally gripping as any novel, with the unexpected twists and unpredictable characters of real life.

There's a gale of fresh energy and talent blowing through every page. Venkatesh's straightforward, honest style and gullible vulnerability make bumbling, guileless, well-intentioned Sudhir the most appealing narrator since that other endearing, in-over-his-head graduate student, Carlos Castaneda. Like good-natured, naïve Carlos, apprenticed to the wily Yacqui sorcerer, Don Juan, Sudhir is also apprenticed to a larger-than-life teacher, in this case a sadly modern-day equivalent, J.T., a charming, inscrutable gang leader who is a criminal business mastermind and the most powerful force in a notorious high-rise housing project of Chicago.

The reader meets Sudhir when he's a bright, vegetarian graduate student with a ponytail. He's from Southern California and reckless enough to go into a dangerous, high-crime neighborhood forbidden to students and ask a gang of crack dealers, "How does it feel to be poor and black in America?"

The book then follows Sudhir's education, and it's the sincere, self-critical narrative of a sensitive outsider trying to understand a violent world where ambulances dare not go, where gang members register voters and where justice is vigilante style, waiting to pounce in high-rise stairwells. As he reports on the criminal economics of hustling, Sudhir finds himself becoming a hustler, too, exploiting lives for his academic research with sometimes frightening consequences.

As a reader, you enter into a morally complex world where the police are the most dangerous gang of all, seen through the eyes of a young observer who has to decide how much truth he can reveal and still get out of the Robert Taylor Homes alive.

This book is compulsively readable and highly addicting. It caused me to cancel dates, skip meals and miss busses. Be warned.--Nick DiMartino

 


The Bestsellers

The IMBA Bestsellers: January

The following were the bestselling books at reporting member stores of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association in January:

Hardcover

1. Bleeding Kansas by Sara Paretsky
2. Blue Heaven by C.J. Box
3. Touchstone by Laurie R. King
4. A Pale Horse by Charles Todd
5. Death Song by Michael McGarrity
6. The Timer Game by Susan Arnout Smith
7. Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich
8. Blasphemy by Douglas Preston
8. 'T' Is for Trespass by Sue Grafton
10. The Chameleon's Shadow by Minette Walters
10. The Venetian Betrayal by Steve Berry

Paperback

1. The State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy
2. Death of a Maid by M.C. Beaton
3. Darkling by Yasmine Galenorn
4. Chili con Corpse by J.B. Stanley
5. The Shape Shifter by Tony Hillerman
6. A Deeper Sleep by Dana Stabenow
7. Getting Old Is to Die For by Rita Lakin
8. Water Like a Stone by Deborah Crombie
9. The Overlook by Michael Connelly
10. Bring Your Own Poison by Jimmie Ruth Evans

[Many thanks to the IMBA!]

 


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