Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, February 26, 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: Random Buys Monacelli; Follett Buys Varsity; Dutton's

Random House has bought the Monacelli Press, the arts book publisher established in 1994 that specializes in books on architecture, the fine arts, interior design, landscape architecture, photography and graphic design.

Monacelli will continue to be headed by publisher and founder Gianfranco Monacelli and maintain its editorial identity. Its staff will move to the Random House building in New York City. Sales and distribution of Monacelli Press, currently handled by Penguin, will be assumed by Random House, effective July 1.

"Since my first days as a bookseller at Rizzoli on Fifth Avenue, when I was given the task of alphabetizing the Modern Library, I have always looked at Random House and its imprints as the most exceptional in the industry," Monacelli said in a statement. "Over the years, as I became familiar with its wonderful and varied catalogs, I came to know the people behind them and appreciate the overall culture identified with the company. In my view there is no better family to join than the house of Random."


Varsity Group, which in the late 1990s aimed to become the dominant online textbook retailer a la, is being bought by Follett Corp., which manages more than 750 college bookstores, is a major textbook distributor and provides library materials and technology to schools. Follett is offering 20 cents a share or about $3.8 million for Varsity.

Varsity's business model has changed several times, and it now acts as the online bookstore, school supply and school uniform supplier for various colleges and schools.


More on the unfortunate closing of Dutton's Brentwood.

The store has $550,000 in debt, mainly from the closed store in Beverly Hills, according to the Los Angeles Times. In an odd offer of help, billionaire landlord Charles T. Munger and his wife, Nancy, have said they will allow Dutton's to close rent free and will cover the store's debt--so long as the store leaves. Dutton said that Munger made it clear that "he thought of me as an old-fashioned businessman who was out of touch with reality."

Although the building has been been given landmark designation, the Mungers may still renovate or even demolish it. The Mungers' original redevelopment proposal, announced a year ago, included smaller space in which Dutton's could relocate, while a more recent proposal includes space for, as the Times wrote, "an independent bookstore, with an emphasis on children's books, that would be staffed, [Munger] hopes, by former Dutton's employees."

Dutton's Brentwood has 40 employees and 5,000 square feet of space.


Congratulations to Bookbug, the children's bookstore that opened yesterday in Kalamazoo, Mich. The owners are Nicole Butz, Joanna Parzakonis and Parzakonis's husband, Derek Molitor. "Behind the scenes" is Butz's husband, "four kids, several cats and a dog."

Bookbug is located at 3019 Oakland Dr., Kalamazoo, Mich. 49008; 269-385-2847;


The ABA and New England Independent Booksellers Association are hosting a day of education, Thursday, May 1, in Portsmouth, N.H. The program includes an ABA Bookseller Forum and lunch; an ABA Bookselling at the Tipping Point seminar on how booksellers can became an integral part of buy local, independent business and sustainability movements; a NEIBA peer review program seminar about how to be involved as a peer--or advisor--and how to set up a peer visit; and an open house at RiverRun Bookstore. (For more about RiverRun, see last Note below.)

Attendance is limited to 50. RSVP to NEIBA executive director Steve Fischer at


In other NEIBA news, we're very happy to hear from Steve Fischer that Nan Sorensen, assistant executive director of NEIBA, who had heart bypass surgery last week, is home, sounding "good, comfortable and resting."  


Reading all night update. Last week's "Cool idea of the Day" (Shelf Awareness, February 19, 2008) became a successful, if bleary-eyed, all-nighter Saturday as SecondRun Bookstore, Portsmouth, N.H., hosted Great Expectations: A Reading Marathon.

"It's been a really long, but fun, 24 hours," said Michele Filgate, the events coordinator for RiverRun Bookstore.

Seacoastonline reported that more than 15 participants read from 6 p.m. Saturday to 6 p.m. Sunday, but only Portsmouth High School senior Rose Neilson made it through "without a wink of sleep, earning her a gift certificate. She was most of the way through the 800-page Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, a novel by Susanna Clarke."

"We'd like to do this again next year," Filgate said. "I think this shows that reading is a popular thing at any age."


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

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Books of Wonder on Martha Stewart

Tonight on the Colbert Report: Robert S. Bennett, author of In the Ring: The Trials of a Washington Lawyer (Crown, $27.50, 9780307394439/0307394433).

Also on Colbert, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright will discuss her book Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership (HarperCollins, $26.95, 9780061351808/0061351806).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: David Sheff, author of Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey through His Son's Addiction (Houghton Mifflin, $24, 9780618683352/0618683356), about his meth-addicted son, chosen as the next Starbucks book selection.

Also on Today: Nic Sheff, the beautiful boy of David Sheff's book, who has written his own memoir, Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines (Ginee Seo/S&S, $16.99, 9781416913627/1416913629), geared to younger readers.


Tomorrow morning on the Early Show: John Gray, author of Why Mars and Venus Collide: Improving Relationships by Understanding How Men and Women Cope Differently with Stress (Harper, $24.95, 9780061242960/0061242969).


Tomorrow on the Martha Stewart Show: Peter Glassman, owner of Books of Wonder bookstore, New York City, will talk about five children's books:

  • Who Is Melvin Bubble? by Nick Bruel (Roaring Brook Press)
  • Not a Box and Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis (HarperCollins)
  • The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin)
  • Could You? Would You? by Trudy White (Kane/Miller)
  • Diary of a Fly by Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss (Cotler/HarperCollins)


Tomorrow on the View: Valerie Bertinelli, author of Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time (Free Press, $26, 9781416568186/1416568182).


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

Books & Authors

Awards: Books for a Better Life

The following books won in their categories in the 12th annual Books for a Better Life Awards, sponsored by the New York City Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and given last night:

  • Childcare/Parenting: Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein (Bloomsbury)
  • First Book: Sick Girl by Amy Silverstein (Grove/Atlantic)
  • Inspirational Memoir: The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn R. Saks (Hyperion)
  • Motivational: The 51% Minority by Lis Wiehl (Ballantine) 
  • Personal Finance: Money Can Buy Happiness by MP Dunleavey (Broadway Books)
  • Psychology: Identical Strangers by Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein (Random House)
  • Relationships: An Uncertain Inheritance edited by Nell Casey (Morrow) 
  • Spiritual: How Not to be Afraid of Your Own Life by Susan Piver (St. Martin's)
  • Wellness: How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman, M.D. (Houghton Mifflin)

Richard M. Cohen, author of Blindsided, received the MS Awareness Award, and Bantam Dell v-p, executive editor Toni Burbank was inducted into the Ardath Rodale Hall of Fame.


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

Attainment: New Books Out Next Week

Selected titles appearing Tuesday, March 4:

Change of Heart: A Novel by Jodi Picoult (Atria, $26.95, 9780743496742/0743496744) tells the story of a death row inmate who tries to become an organ donor.

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson (Grand Central, $23.99, 9780446579650/0446579653) follows a Southern family after a young girl's body is discovered in its pool.

Dead Time by Stephen White (Dutton, $25.95, 9780525950066/0525950060) features Colorado psychologist Dr. Alan Gregory in another mystery.

The Ancient by R. A. Salvatore (Tor, $25.95, 9780765317896/0765317893) continues the fantasy world created in 2004's The Highwayman.

A Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey Archer (St. Martin's, $27.95, 9780312379292/0312379293) is a modern update of The Count of Monte Cristo.

Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana by Anne Rice (Knopf, $25.95, 9781400043521/1400043522) is a fictitious account of a portion of Jesus' life.

Standing Tall: A Memoir of Tragedy and Triumph by C. Vivian Stringer and Laura Tucker (Crown, $24.95, 9780307406095/0307406091) are the memoirs of the coach of the Rutgers women's basketball team.

The Detox Strategy: Vibrant Health in 5 Easy Steps by Brenda Watson (Free Press, $26, 9781416572534/1416572538) examines natural methods of detoxification.

I Don't Believe in Atheists by Chris Hedges (Free Press, $25, 9781416567950/141656795X) critiques radical atheist ideas.

Now in paperback:

Dead Over Heels by MaryJanice Davidson (Berkley, $14, 9780425219416/0425219410).


Deeper Understanding

How to Talk to People in the Store: A Guide for Booksellers

Melissa Lion is a writer who was a bookseller for five years, most recently as events coordinator at DIESEL, A Bookstore in Oakland, Calif. She is the author of two YA novels, Swollen, a Book Sense pick, and Upstream, which is under option for a motion picture. She now lives in Portland, Ore. Lion's How to Talk to the People in the Bookstore: A Guide for Booksellers originally appeared in Footnotes, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association newsletter, archived here.

I didn't always interact with the people in the bookstore in the best way possible. There was the time I stood next to Khaled Hosseini and inhaled, eyes closed, and then swooned because he smelled so damn good. There was the time I told an irate customer that if she was so concerned about our lack of a dump for Bill O'Reilly's latest title, she could gather some cardboard from in back and craft one herself. Maybe if I had this handy guide, these things wouldn't have happened. No, they still would have. But sometimes we all need a little help in the interacting-with-other-humans department. I hope this helps on those days when you're out of the hottest-selling book, and last night was the night the staff decided to go out for just one drink, and the manager has told you, for the 10th time, to go circulate.

1) Look customers in the eye and say hello. This prevents shoplifting, but it also makes customers feel like they can talk to you too. I live in Portland now. Home of Powell's City of Books. It's a city. Of books. I can't find anything in there. My first few trips, I'd stand in the section and squeak "Excuse me," as booksellers passed me right by. It's intimidating. It's scary. The first person who greeted me I clung to for dear life. "Help me find the biography of Jacqueline Susann," I said. See, Powell's has no bio section. I know, right? Well, all bookstores have these little organizational quirks. The customer might not expect that and need a little help. So say hello. As to why I was reading a bio of the author of Valley of the Dolls, that's another list.

2) When the store doesn't have the book, say, "Let me check my warehouse." Not let me check the distributor or Ingram. Let me check my warehouse. Customers will be very impressed that you have a warehouse, and it makes them think it's less of a hassle than special ordering. Granted, I ripped this idea from one of my former places of employment. We also called Costco our warehouse.

3) Please do check the warehouse and special order the title. Please do not tell the customer to go to a "corporate bookstore," as a young man instructed me to do the other day when I asked for a front-list Valentine's anthology by a major publisher.

4) "May I help the next person in line?" Instead of, "May I help who's next?" Doesn't that feel better? Feel crisper and more professional? More grammatically correct? I feel better just thinking it.

5) Show off a bit. When a customer asks for a book, don't jump on the computer. Take them to the section and look for it. You know the author; you know where the book lives. Go for a walk. If it's not there, go back to the computer, look it up, and then say it's at your warehouse. Customers will follow you all over the store. They have no idea you don't keep the stock totals in your brain. Once you've looked, they're yours; they'll wait while you special order.

6) Stop talking. Know when your time is up with a customer. Sure you know every nuance of the manga vs. graphic novel debate, but please. Let the customer revel in your genius. Spread the love a little. Go say hello to another customer.

7) Authors. Authors are a tough bunch. I've had some of my most frustrating moments at the hands of authors. Like the woman who, after my co-worker mistakenly thought she was a customer and said we had no customer restroom, straightened her shoulders and said, "I'm no customer. I'm an author." Or the man who did not respond to me at all. Not when I stuck my hand out to introduce myself or when I asked if he'd like some water or if he needed a pen. Instead, he would turn to my male co-worker and speak with him.

But when I started thinking that authors are really a nervous bunch who, in many cases, have a false sense of themselves, I realized that it was okay. I was okay. They'd be gone in a few hours and then I'd gossip about them to anyone who would listen. I felt better. So ask yourself, is this person being a schmuck because she's nervous or because she is a schmuck?

If he or she is a schmuck, I give you permission to say, "I appreciate your coming to read here. However you are treating me like I am not an actual human being. It is not good for me nor is it good for your career because I will get on the bookseller bat phone and tell all my bookseller friends about you. So chill, 'kay?"

8) You know the guy who comes in with the big bag dragging behind him and he sits in a meeting with the various book buyers and then he leaves and you think, well, who was that? That was the publisher rep. Walk up to him. Offer some water. Say, "These are my recommendations," and walk him around the store. Ask for his e-mail address. Hand him your contact info. Wait a week and watch the envelopes of free books start coming to the store with YOUR name on them. Or better, give him your home address.

9) Say hello to the UPS or FedEx person. Know that person's name. It creates good will and prettier boxes, and I'm pretty sure that on the days I was singing the praises of the FedEx lady, the books in the boxes were magically more interesting.

10) I needed a 10th thing, and I wish I could fill this spot with the correct response for that wonderful moment when a customer says, "I'll just get it on Amazon." Over five years, I tried to inform them about how that would harm their community. I've said nothing and walked away. I've smiled, and said thank you. Nothing works. The sale is already gone. Here's the best I can come up with: when the traitor leaves, check around you for actual customers, take a deep breath, and whisper, 'go suck it.' Phew. But, really, check around you before doing that because the ears have walls, if you catch my drift.

[Many thanks to Melissa Lion and the PNBA!] 

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