Shelf Awareness for Thursday, February 28, 2008

Running Press Adult: Ignite Your Light: A Sunrise-To-Moonlight Guide to Feeling Joyful, Resilient, and Lit from Within by Jolene Hart

St. Martin's Press: The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal about Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power by Deirdre Mask

Basic Books: America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States by Erika Lee

Random House: This Is Chance!: The Shaking of an All-American City, a Voice That Held It Together by Jon Mooallem

Beach Lane Books: Pluto Gets the Call by Adam Rex, illustrated by Laurie Keller

Workman Publishing: Click to see full Holiday Quick Pick catalog!


Notes: Buckley Mortuus; Store Changes; Dutton's Remembered

William F. Buckley, Jr., "scourge of liberalism," intellectual leader of the modern conservative movement, founder of the National Review, newspaper columnist, TV show host and author of more than 55 books and editor of five more, died yesterday. He was 82.

In its obituary, the New York Times noted that Buckley's books ranged "from sailing odysseys to spy novels to celebrations of his own dashing daily life. . . . His political novel The Rake was published last August, and a book looking back at the National Review's history in November; a personal memoir of Barry Goldwater is due to be publication in April, and Mr. Buckley was working on a similar book about Ronald Reagan for release in the fall."

Requiescat in pace.


Effective April 7, Joci Tilsen and Jim Bour, owners of the Valley Bookseller in Stillwater, Minn., are selling their store to Molly Rice and Dan Priebe, according to the Pioneer Press. Tilsen and Bour told the paper that they want to focus on their grandchildren, In addition, Tilsen will continue her part-time job as the director of programs for the Minnesota Food Association, and Bour plans to write children's books.

Valley Bookseller is located at 217 North Main St., Stillwater, Minn. 55082; 651-430-3385;


The Booksmith, Vineland, N.J., is closing at the end of March, according to the Daily Journal. Founded in 1973 and an original tenant of the Cumberland Mall, the 2,600-sq.-ft. Booksmith sold mainly discount books and stocked some 22,000 volumes. Owner Gerry Dooley says he will continue to handle book fairs and ordering instructional materials for commercial businesses and schools and may open a larger store elsewhere.


In response to the impending closing of nearby Dutton's Brentwood, Katie O'Laughlin, owner of Village Books in Pacific Palisades, Calif., told the Palisadian-Post about some of the strategies she takes to be competitive, particularly focusing on the community and adjusting inventory to customers' tastes.

"The inventory has changed over time," she told the paper. "I have expanded the mystery section and increased the travel section, particularly since the California Map Store on Pico closed. I have the summer reading lists from all the schools in place, which builds up the classics section." She carries few computer books "because the technology is constantly changing."

O'Laughlin also tries to "have something new and different in the bookstore, and [I] try to keep things lively." One example: the store "road trip" to Arcadia last fall, where a Chinese cookbook author accompanied guests to a Chinese banquet. She will continue making quarterly field trips like this.


In the Los Angeles Times, author T.C. Boyle gives a eulogy for Dutton's Brentwood, remembering his first visit to the store where immediately he was "tenderly wrapped in the aura of a bibliophile's paradise--the lighting dim, the interior hushed, a smell of print investing the air as if the presses were even then churning away in the basement."

Other fond moments: "Scott [Wannberg] informing me that Bob Dylan had been in and purchased one of my books (and me wondering: which one?).

"Reading in the courtyard because the store was too small to handle the crowd and worrying about the traffic noise until the thunder of a pair of Harleys obliterated all sense--and only then discovering that the bikes were piloted by my amigos, Chuck and Jorma, come to welcome me. . . .

"Having Scott introduce me with one of his wild, rabble-rousing poems and then standing back to watch the war of emotions play over the faces of the packed-tight crowd as I sang out my stories to them.

"And best of all: Listening to the hush on a steamy night, crowded in with the faithful to give and receive the precious words."


Can Mischa Barton do to Million Dollar Bash what Posh Spice did for Skinny Bitch?

That's the $19.95 question for Kevin Becketti, U.S. sales and marketing manager of Jawbone Press, who wrote us that Barton, the former O.C. actress, was photographed last week on the set of her current movie, The Homecoming, holding a copy of Million Dollar Bash: Bob Dylan, The Band, and the Basement Tape by Sid Griffin, which was published in paperback last October. (The book-and-Starbucks-in-hands moment has been immortalized online here and here.)

Last year, Posh Spice aka Victoria Beckham was photographed holding a copy of Skinny Bitch by Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman. After the pictures ran in tabloids, sales of the book took off (Shelf Awareness, June 30, 2007).


Verbatim Booksellers, Vail, Colo., is on the market. The Vail Trail reported that owner Robert Aikens is selling the store for $250,000.

"I just personally can't afford to take out any more loans or put in any more money myself," said Aikens, who will keep the store open until he finds a buyer. "I'm not going to go on and continue running a store if it can't survive on its own."

He hopes to sell within a year, but if he doesn't, he will move. "I couldn't live anywhere that doesn't have a bookstore," he said.


"They are people who not only read but also buy books intending to keep them." That's how Tom Macaluso described his customers in a Philadelphia Inquirer profile of his bookstore, Thomas Macaluso Used & Rare Books, Kennett Square, Pa.

And his books? "The age of the book is not the most significant factor," he said. "What is the content? Is it a good book? Is the subject noteworthy? Did it contribute to our culture? And is it still being read? . . . I sometimes think of myself as a conservator. If it were not for people like me, a great part of our culture might be thrown away."


Podcast alert: in conjunction with the Kitsap Regional Library's Big Read Project, Paul Hanson, manager of Eagle Harbor Book Co., Bainbridge Island, Wash., interviewed Brian Herbert of Dune fame. The interview is available at


What you read in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Although Sin City "famously caters to every sort of whim and taste and temptation," the Las Vegas Sun pointed out that "you really have to hunt for a bookstore" if you want to celebrate this year's Nevada Reading Week.

The Sun helpfully scanned the Yellow Pages, which list "more than 100 bookstores in the Las Vegas area--but that list gets skinnier by half when you filter out the adult bookstores. If you count out the specialty stores--children's books, comics, religious, recovery and self-help, and gambling--you're pretty much left with a handful of the big chain bookstores Borders and Barnes & Noble."

Las Vegas native Charles Bock, author of the bestselling novel Beautiful Children, said, "Vegas is America's great 21st-century city, but sadly, reading is not a high priority there, and it's never likely to become one. The constructs they put up are not there for your inner life. They are there to take money out of your wallet, and reading doesn't do that. The genius of the city is that at that solitary and private moment, where you could open a book and get lost in your own private world, Vegas has every single indulgence possible waiting to tempt you to do something else."


In a USA Today article headlined "Consumers cut back on small pleasures," one of those consumers, Sara Winters, admitted that her family is now spending less time at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore and more time at the public library. Despite this strategic thrift shift, when she couldn't find a series of scifi books for her son at either the library or used-book store, she spent $40 for them at B&N, admitting, "When your son wants to read, it's hard to say no."

B&N spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating told USA Today that during recessions, consumers may pull back on big-ticket items, but they tend to keep buying books.


Effective May 1 and in time for the fall list, Newmarket Press sales and distribution in the U.S. and Canada will be handled by Perseus Distribution. Newmarket, which was founded in 1981 and publishes about 30 books a year, mainly in film, parenting, biography, health and self-help, has been distributed by W.W. Norton & Co. since 1999.


Berkley Books: The Return by Rachel Harrison

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Austen Fest; Shashi Tharoor

This morning on the Today Show and NPR's Morning Edition: Molly Gloss, author of The Hearts of Horses (Houghton Mifflin, $24, 9780618799909/0618799907).


Starting today on WETA's Author, Author!: a Jane Austen panel discussion with Carol Pippen, Professor of English at Goucher College and editor of the Jane Austen Society of North America newsletter. Text interviews with Laurie Viera Rigler (Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict), Margaret Sullivan (The Jane Austen Handbook) and Syrie James (The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen).


Today on Writer's Roundtable, hosted by Antoinette Kuritz: Edward Humes, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Mississippi Mud whose newest book is Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul (Harper Perennial, $15.95, 9780060885496/0060885491). Tune in via or
Also, check out the new La Jolla Writers Conference site at as well as Writer's Roundtable's association with Il Chiostro at and  Writer's Roundtable's book segment for KUSI-TV in San Diego talking about books we love, available at

Tomorrow evening on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: Shashi Tharoor, author of The Elephant, the Tiger, and the Cell Phone, India the Emerging 21st Century Power (Arcade, $27.50, 9781559708616/1559708611). 


Nimbus Publishing: Anne of Green Gables: The Original Manuscript by Lucy Maud Montgomery, edited by Carolyn Strom Collins

This Weekend on Book TV: Free Lunch

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, March 1

6 p.m. Encore Book Notes. In a segment first aired in 1998, Peter Jennings, co-author with Todd Brewster of The Century, discussed the book's emphasis on ordinary lives and its effective use of photography to document the people and events of the previous 100 years.

7 p.m. Editors Henry Louis Gates and Eveyln Brooks Higginbotham present the African American National Biography (Oxford University Press, $795, 9780195160192/0195160193), an eight-volume collection that includes the biographies of more than 4,000 African Americans. (Re-airs Sunday at 2 a.m. and Monday at 5:30 a.m.)
9 p.m. At an event hosted by Book Passage bookstore, Corte Madera, Calif., Charles Barber, author of Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry Is Medicating a Nation (Pantheon, $26, 9780375423994/0375423990), contends that Americans have confused the difference between ordinary problems and mental illness. (Re-airs Saturday, March 22, at 10 a.m.)    
10 p.m. After Words. Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, interviews David Cay Johnston, author of Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You With the Bill) (Portfolio, $24.95, 9781591841913/1591841917). (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Monday at 3 a.m., and Sunday, March 9, at 12 p.m.)
Sunday, March 2

12 p.m. In Depth. Author and linguist John McWhorter joins BookTV for a live interview. McWhorter is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of several books, including Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music in America and Why We Should, Like, Care (Perseus, $18, 9780738204468/0738204463). (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m.; Saturday, March 8, at 9 a.m.; and Monday, March 10, at 3 a.m.)


Quirk Books: Spark and the League of Ursus by Robert Repino

Books & Authors

Awards: Story; B&N's Discover Great New Writers

Jim Shepard has won the $20,000 Story Prize for his short story collection Like You'd Understand Anyway (Knopf), according to the New York Times. The two runnersup, who were awarded $5,000 each, were: Tessa Hadley for Sunstroke and Other Stories (Picador), and Vincent Lam for Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures (Weinstein Books).


The winners of the 15th annual Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Awards are:


  • Winner: Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup (Little, Brown)
  • Second place honors: Soldier's Heart by Elizabeth Samet (FSG)
  • Third place honors: The Siege of Mecca by Yaroslav Trofimov (Doubleday)
  • Winner: Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris (Little, Brown)
  • Second place honors: The Farther Shore by Matthew Eck (Milkweed Editions)
  • Third place honors: Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida (Ecco)

The main winners each receive $10,000 and a year of additional marketing and advertising. Second place winners receive $5,000. Third place winner receive $2,500. The winners read last night at the Lincoln Triangle B&N in New York City.

B&N called Here If You Need Me "a heartbreaking memoir. As a young widow with four children, Braestrup recounts her decision to pursue her deceased husband's quest to work as a chaplain for the Maine warden service and delivers stories from the field, full of compassion, honesty, and wisdom."

B&N described Then We Came to the End as "the tale of a group of malcontented employees at a declining Chicago ad agency," and fiction jurist John Burnham Schwartz called it "a blisteringly funny first novel that speaks in a rollicking chorus of complaint and misdirection from within the vast corporate beehive, nailing the species, while never ceasing to recognize the human and particular."


Book Review

Children's Review: Child of Dandelions

Child of Dandelions by Shenaaz Nanji (Front Street, $17.95 Hardcover, 9781932425932, March 2008)

For many young people, this debut YA novel will put Uganda on the map, and for those aware of Africa's violent conflicts, the author offers some insight into the seeds planted deep in its past. The book unfolds through the third-person perspective of 15-year-old Sabine. It opens on August 6, 1972--the morning after Uganda's president, Idi Amin, has had a dream that "all foreign Indians" must be expelled from the country--and the narrative extends through the 90-day period he gives the Indians to flee. As a man spits at Sabine, who is Ugandan-born but of Indian descent, her best friend, Zena, defends her. "One day you'll see with new eyes," the man replies, a foreshadowing of the pain to follow.

Sabine's grandfather, Bapa, came to Uganda from India when British colonials recruited workers to build the Kenya-Uganda Railway. Now Bapa runs a successful farm, and his son, Sabine's father, is a wealthy businessman. Zena and her family work on Bapa's farm. The two girls spend every spare moment together; Bapa calls Sabine and Zena "twin beans of one coffee flower." But the escalating resentment the Ugandans develop toward those of Indian descent begins to affect the girls' friendship. On day 12 of the countdown, Sabine's uncle disappears; on day 29, Zena tells Sabine of her own uncle's plans to arrange Zena's marriage to "a high-ranking official in the army"; and on day 36, Zena tells Sabine, "We have to clear our land . . .  You are the child of dandelions." With smooth pacing, African-born author Nanji reveals the inequalities of Ugandan society as they enter Sabine's consciousness. The heroine starts out certain of her father's commitment to stay in Uganda, and grows stronger in her defense of the Indians who come under increasing attack. But her resolve diminishes as the tide of hatred becomes seemingly insurmountable. The author paints a balanced portrait; both Sabine and Zena show their shortcomings as well as their strengths, as do other key characters. There are no easy answers here, and Nanji creates a platform for lively debate about the causes of war, and demonstrates how the actions of today influence the societies of tomorrow.--Jennifer M. Brown

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: If a New POD Title Drops in the Forest . . .

Anyone who has ever taught knows this feeling: You ask a question and wait . . . and wait . . . and wait for someone in the classroom to answer. One of the many pleasures I have in writing this column is the feedback I usually get from readers, but last week's POD column generated what can only be described as a nearly silent classroom.

That was a little surprising. We know POD has great potential, the Espresso Book Machine being just the most recent and highly publicized example. We also know POD is being used in a variety of ways now, from maintaining backlist inventory to niche publishing to, inevitably, vanity publishing. Regarding the latter, booksellers can't help but wince at the memory of past conversations with earnest authors who felt they had been published when they had only been printed. But it's just too easy to pigeonhole the technology due to past offenses. 

One of the readers I did hear from is currently using digital and POD technology to establish a new publishing venture, KenArnoldBooks, in Portland, Ore. So I came up with another question:

What does Ken Arnold think?

A veteran of four decades in the publishing business, Arnold says his new venture "prints on demand and distributes primarily through Amazon, although we are setting up partnerships with stores willing to work with us. Our books are not subsidized by authors; I select what we want to publish, issue royalty contracts, edit, market, and all that. I see POD as simply an economical way to manufacture books without tying up limited capital in inventory. Some review media and bookstores seem to think it's a problem: the NYTBR categorically refuses to consider POD books; one local store has special policies for dealing with POD (as I assume others do). The real problem is that I will not accept returns, not POD."

Arnold knows what he is up against using this approach. "I suspect you are right about the low-bar syndrome as a precondition for bookseller and reviewer suspicion of POD publishers. And the market has been flooded with self-published and subsidized merchandise. An easy response to the sheer quantity is to reject an entire category that has proved to be too often full of defective goods."

On the other hand, he notes that university presses and other publishers already take advantage of POD's economy of scale to keep titles in print, "and that seems to be a real solution to a problem that's been around a long time. Hittite grammar is not a popular subject, but a few people need it. Entire areas of scholarly research are moribund because there are no publishers who can afford to carry the results of academic research."

For his company, Arnold believes "niche is the story for us. I have a background and contacts in the Episcopal Church, for example, and we are publishing some well-known Episcopal authors. We are also going to publish some Portland writers we can promote locally. We need a few authors who have a track record commercially--Malcolm Boyd, one of our first authors is an example and we are reading another manuscript by someone who's published dozens of books in a field in which he's a star."

He adds that "each book we publish is selected with the author's network capabilities in mind; in addition to asking if a book is good, we also ask if the author can help promote it through his/her networks, speaking engagements, website, readings, etc. We emphasize to authors that publishing is a partnership, even with commercial publishers (most authors just don't know that)."

Arnold admits that he doesn't "expect to make money in the first or even the second year. We'll do 10 books a year for the first two and also see if we can pick up some reprints to pump up the volume. But I can't tell you it will work."

And he continues to explore indie bookstore options: "We are talking to bookstores about local authors they might want to stock or host readings. On our website, we call them bookstore partners. We offer a deep discount with no returns but are also willing to send books to a reading and take back what isn't sold at the event. For each new author, we'll find a store or two in the author's neighborhood to work with, on that one book if no other."

Okay, no more questions. Answers, however, are still welcome.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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