Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Simon & Schuster: Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era by Jerry Mitchell

Sfi Readerlink Dist: Sesame Street: The Monster at the End of This Book: An Interactive Adventure by Jon Stone, adapted by Autumn B Heath

Minotaur Books: The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James

Tor Books: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

DK: Free Pack of The Wonders of Nature Wrapping Paper - Click to Sign Up!

Quotation of the Day

'The Smell of Pure Print'

"Ah, the smell of pure print."--Spoken after a deep breath by a 10-year-old boy as he came into the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop in Mequon, Wis., on Monday. The moment "made me smile along with the customers and booksellers who saw and heard him," Pattie Cox of Schwartz wrote, adding that Monday was the boy's birthday, and his parents had brought him to the store for a treat.


G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers: The Best of Iggy by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sam Ricks


Notes: Martha to Buy Emeril; Bookseller to Read 200 Books

Martha Stewart has cooked up a savory new business deal. The Associated Press (via USA Today) reported that Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has "bought the rights to the Emeril Lagasse franchise of cookbooks, television shows and kitchen products for $45 million in cash and $5 million in stock at closing. The final price could reach $70 million if certain benchmarkets are achieved."

RBC Capital analyst David Bank said "the Emeril deal adds another well-known brand name to the company, so it would not depend solely on Martha Stewart's name."

"The more you can bring into the mix away from Martha the better you are," he added. "Diversifying the brands in the portfolio is a positive thing."

Or, as Stewart told the New York Times, "[Emeril's] tastes are very different from mine, as is his food, and I think that’s good. Being complementary and different is better than being competitive." 


If setting a good example will increase the number of readers in the U.S., then Amanda Patchin, owner of Veritas Fine Books, Garden City, Idaho, is setting an example extraordinaire. Her goal is to read 200 books--79,349 pages--this year.

The marathon read is Patchin's response to the bad news about reading habits as summed up in last year's NEA report, "To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence." One of the findings was that young Americans spend an average of only seven minutes a day reading for pleasure.

According to the Idaho Statesman, Patchin, 27, "has obviously not participated in those studies. . . . [She] has read about 10,000 pages since Jan. 1. That's more than 200 pages a day."

You can learn more about her quest at, where she sums it up this way: "200 books in 2008. Selected from Everyman's Library. Reading while caring for a toddler and a new baby and running a small business. With daily blog posts chronicling the attempt. Yeah, I'm nuts."


Check out pictures of Monday's fancy party at Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Ga., where fancy partygoers heard a reading of Fancy Nancy: Bonjour, Butterfly! [Many thanks to Nicki Leone--and, yes, we were listening.]


Linda Cannon of Parson Weems had her 15 minutes of fame earlier this week when she was interviewed on TV at Jay's Bookstall, Pittsburgh, Pa., which is closing after 53 years in business (Shelf Awareness, February 19, 2008). Cannon had been a customer when she was a student in Pittsburgh 1969-1972, and for the past five years she had sold to owner Jay Dantry and manager Joe Emanuele. By coincidence, she was at the store when the TV crew was there. She added: "I am honored to have had the opportunity to pay tribute to Jay and his of 53 year service to independent bookselling over a period of time that saw dramatic historic, social and publishing changes. If only we could download his vast memory."

Off camera, Chris Kerr, also of Parson Weems, who had called on the store since 1978, said: "Jay Dantry used to tell me that he would give me an order if I shut up, left the catalogs and got coffee."


In November, Barnes & Noble plans to open a new store in Gilbert, Ariz., near Phoenix. The store will be in the San Tan Village Regional Shopping Center at 2150 East Williams Field Road.


In an effort to boost sales of James Patterson's soon-to-be-published Maximum Ride: The Final Warning, "Little, Brown has asked booksellers to commit to keeping the new 'Maximum Ride' book--along with The Dangerous Days of Daniel X, the first title in a new young-adult series, due out in July--at the front of their stores as long as Mr. Patterson's adult titles usually stay there, in the hope of luring more adult buyers," today's New York Times reports, adding that the author "figures the best way to get young readers may be through their mothers."

"The reality is that women buy most books," said Patterson. "The reality is that it's easier, and a really good habit, to start to get parents when they walk into a bookstore to say, 'You know, I should buy a book for my kid as well.'"


Product placement on the page. The New York Times looked at the creators of two book series for young readers who "have come to separate conclusions" about enlisting companies to sponsor branded mentions in their work.

When it was revealed that Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman, authors of Cathy’s Book: If Found Call (650) 266-8233, published in 2006, "had agreed to have characters wear specific makeup lines made by Cover Girl in exchange for promotional ads for the book on, a Web site aimed at adolescent girls and run by Procter & Gamble, Cover Girl’s parent, the book came in for criticism. Ralph Nader's advocacy group, Commercial Alert, urged book review editors to boycott it, and the novelist Jane Smiley wrote a disapproving op-ed article for the Los Angeles Times; the New York Times wrote a critical editorial as well." The paperback edition will not include these references.

The Times contrasted this experience to Mackenzie Blue, a new series aimed at 8-to-12-year-old girls and created by Tina Wells, chief executive of Buzz Marketing Group, who "will herself be the author of titles in the series filled with references to brands. She plans to offer the companies that make them the chance to sponsor the books."


Is Hollywood "developing a more consistent approach to literature?" In the Los Angeles Times, David Ulin suggested that recent Oscar-worthy films based on novels, like There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men and Margot at the Wedding, seem to indicate the possibility of a trend.

"For me, this is a matter of sensibility, of complexity and nuance, the way these works take on bigger issues, the uncertainties and irresolution that mark our passage through the world," Ulin wrote, adding that "if these kinds of movies have anything to tell us, it's that interiority can sometimes play itself out on screen."

He concluded by noting the trend, however small, does indicate "that good books can indeed make thought-provoking movies, which means there may be less difference than we imagined between a successful novel and a successful film."


CEOs may be reading their way to success. India Times checked in with business leaders and concluded that the formula for the perfect leadership book is elusive at best: "'Is there a book that is the perfect compendium of all leadership advice?' Of course not, is India Inc's collective retort. But for those who want to parrot their CEOs' reading diets: Take note that many of them are taking cues from the annals of history; Ramachandra Guha and Jared Diamond find repeated mention. Add to that a healthy dose of Harry Potter. While we assume that's purely for entertainment, business writer Tom Morris did propose there was leadership wisdom in the world of Wizardry in his book titled If Harry Potter Ran General Electric. Oh well."


Bad news for the book biz? MSN Money offered "10 ways to save money on books:"

  1. Avoid new releases.
  2. Read reviews.
  3. Find the classics online.
  4. Search for bargains.
  5. Make Amazon your all-purpose book tool.
  6. Frequent your public library.
  7. Explore used bookstores.
  8. Harness the power of the Internet.
  9. Buy only what you intend to read.
  10. Share.


Tom Luckinich has joined Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group and National Book Network as director of IT operations, where he will manage the MIS department and support daily operations as the company prepares to switch to IBS/BookMaster. He has held IT management positions for 20 years at several companies, including Westinghouse Electric.


KidsBuzz for the Week of 10.14.19

Regional Events: SCIBA and SIBA

Congratulations to the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association on the name of its upcoming ABA Forum, educational programming and annual meeting. To be held Monday, March 10, 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m., at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel in Hollywood, "Martinis for the Mind" will include a presentation of the ABA's "Booksellers at the Tipping Point: Leveraging Localism and Independence to Promote Your Store" seminar; an ABA Forum lunch, conducted by senior ABA staff, including CEO Avin Domnitz and COO Oren Teicher; a "Tools to Do Business Better" overview of POS systems, Above the Treeline and wholesaler services; followed by the association's annual meeting, a reception and rep picks presentation.

The day is free to all ABA and SCIBA members, and all booksellers are welcome. Register at For more information, call 626-793-8435.


The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance is holding several events in conjunction with the Spring Book Show in Atlanta, Ga. On Friday, March 28, the agenda includes:

  • Jeff Milchen, co-founder of the American Independent Business Alliance, who will discuss starting a local independent business alliance or buy local campaign, among other things.
  • SIBA and Page & Palette president Karin Wilson will lead a discussion of "great ideas that you can implement in moments with a great return on time invested."
  • Resource Roundtables on book clubs, displays, handselling, used and remainder books, regional books, blogging and graphic novels.
  • A conversation with Robert Gray of Shelf Awareness about what baby boomers want (to read).

And on Saturday:

  • Leveraging localism, independence and sustainability to gain customers.
  • ABA Lunch and Bookseller Forum

For more information, call 803-779-0118 or write


GLOW: St. Martin's Press: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Media and Movies

Media Heat: From Philly to Baghdad to the U.S. Congress

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Patrick J. Murphy, author of Taking the Hill: From Philly to Baghdad to the United States Congress (Holt, $25, 9780805086959/0805086951).


Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Edward Lucas, author of The New Cold War: Putin's Russia
and the Threat to the West
(Palgrave Macmillan, $26.95, 9780230606128/0230606121).


Today on the View, calling all foodies: Rachael Ray.


Today on the Martha Stewart Show, more for foodies: Emeril Lagasse (See "Martha to buy Emeril" above). 


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Firewatching by Russ Thomas

Lost Finds The Invention of Morel

Continuing the tradition of using a well-placed book to provide clues to the mysteries of the hit show, tomorrow night's episode of Lost features Sawyer reading the New York Review Books Classic edition of The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Cesares, translated by Ruth L.C. Simms ($12.95, 9781590170571/1590170571).

Bioy's friend and mentor Jorge Luis Borges has called the book "a masterpiece of plotting, comparable with The Turn of the Screw and Journey to the Center of the Earth. The publisher noted: "Set on a mysterious island [!], Bioy's novella is a story of suspense and exploration, as well as a wonderfully unlikely romance, in which every detail is at once crystal clear and deeply mysterious."


Arcadia Publishing: Stock Your Shelves!

Books & Authors

Attainment: New Books Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, February 26:

Carrot Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke (Kensington, $22, 9780758210203/0758210205) is the 10th Hannah Swensen Mystery. This installment includes 21 dessert recipes.

Fast Track by Fern Michaels (Kensington, $27.95, 9780758227140/0758227140).  

Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews (Harper, $24.95, 9780060837365/0060837365) follows a young Southern chef whose public access cooking show is canceled.

The Outlaw Demon Wails by Kim Harrison (Eos, $24.95, 9780060788704/0060788704) is the sixth entry in the Rachel Morgan fantasy series.

Betrayal by John Lescroart (Dutton, $26.95, 9780525950394/0525950397) is the 10th Dismas Hardy novel. This time he investigates a crime with origins in Iraq.

Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella (Dial Press, $25, 9780385338721/0385338724) follows a woman who suffers amnesia after a head injury.

Honor Thyself
by Danielle Steel (Delacorte Press, $27, 9780385340243/0385340249) examines the effect of a terrorist attack on a successful actress's life.

Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time by Valerie Bertinelli (Free Press, $26, 9781416568186/141656818) are the memoirs of Eddie Van Halen's wife.

Out in paperback on Tuesday:

Absolute Fear by Lisa Jackson (Zebra, $7.99, 9780821779361/0821779362).

Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott (Riverhead, $14, 9781594482878/159448287X).

I Heard That Song Before: A Novel by Mary Higgins Clark (Pocket, $7.99, 9780743497305/0743497309).


Grove Press, Black Cat: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Book Review

Book Review: The Solitary Vice

The Solitary Vice: Against Reading by Mikita Brottman (Counterpoint LLC, $14.95 Paperback, 9781593761875, February 2008)

Early in her erudite and witty new work, Mikita Brottman, a professor of humanities at the Maryland Institute College of Art, notes the recent profusion of "books about books," ranging from lists of books we "must" read before we die to thoughtful studies of the novel by prominent authors like Jane Smiley. But when she starts her own contribution to the genre by provocatively comparing reading with masturbation--"the solitary vice," as it was known in the Victorian Age--we know we're in for a wild literary ride.

Brottman boldly challenges the current conventional wisdom, expressed in such venues as citywide reading campaigns and the NEA's Reading at Risk report, that reading is an unalloyed good. "If reading were as vital as its exponents like to claim," she asks, "why would we need all this organized pressure to encourage us to do it?" Citing her own childhood reading obsession, devouring horror stories "locked away in my attic bedroom . . . avoiding everything I could, except books," she describes how reading turned her "from an ordinary, introspective teenager into a barely functional recluse."  

From Brottman's reading autobiography (her "bibliofessional"), The Solitary Vice moves briskly to a discussion of "bibliomania" and other forms of book worship (her take on the "Art Garfunkel Library" is hilarious) and an incisive debunking of the Western literary canon ("Let me make it plain: there are no books you 'ought' to read."). From there, she travels, somewhat discursively, into a deconstruction of our celebrity culture, confessional writing and literary biography, her passion for true crime stories and the relationship of Freudian psychoanalytic thought and literature. Were she not such an engaging literary companion, one might be forgiven some grumbling about the link between these portions of the book and its central thesis. Yet, as Brottman generously shares her own reading obsessions, she subtly challenges us to consider what gives each of us who love to read our unique passion for the written word.

The range of Brottman's reading is vast and impressively eclectic--The Solitary Vice features a "Works Cited" section that stretches to 21 pages. Although she starts by lobbing a hand grenade into the ranks of those promoting reading as the cure all for our social and cultural ills, in the end Brottman recognizes "the real power of reading. It can help you anatomize and explore the inner lives of people very different from you . . . Reading can . . . help you to be less self-centered, more able to see the world through other people's eyes." If we can bring ourselves to read with the proper mix of discernment and gusto, this fresh, frank and lively book suggests, a world opens wide for us.--Harvey Freedenberg


Berkley Books: Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin

KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books:  Spies, Lies, and Disguise: The Daring Tricks and Deeds That Won World War II by Jennifer Swanson, illustrated by Kevin O'Malley
KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books: More Than a Princess by E.D. Baker
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