Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 17, 2008

Thank You Booksellers For Making Our Award-Winning Books a Success!

St. Martin's Press: Remain in Love: Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Tina by Chris Franz

Walker Books: The Good Hawk (Shadow Skye, Book One) by Joseph Elliott

Tor Books: Deal with the Devil: A Mercenary Librarians Novel by Kit Rocha

Quotation of the Day

One of Our All-Time Favorite Shelf Talker Lines

"John Irving is as American as apple pie and as a weird as a bucketful of frog eyeballs."--First line of a shelf talker for Hotel New Hampshire at Diesel, A Bookstore, Oakland, Calif., written by Grant Outerbridge, bookseller and editor of the store newsletter.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle


E-Textbook Issues: Cost and Quality

Our report last week on a talk by Mark Nelson, digital strategist of the National Association of College Stores, on digital change (Shelf Awareness, March 11, 2008), elicited the following note from a student in the Bay Area in California who had a bad e-textbook experience and objects to anything adding to students' costs:

I have taken a course that required "digital media" in conjunction with a solid textbook. It cost triple what the used book price for the same class would have been, and it was a complete nightmare. If you did anything to screw up your membership online, that was it. No refunds if you dropped the class within the allotted time. No do-overs if you accidentally put in the wrong student number or course number. Not only that but on more than one occasion the "virtual tests" did not score students properly.

The fact of the matter is that college students are strangled for cash. The cost is just too great for most over-loaned under-funded students. Only 17%, as you say in your article, would pay more for a book with "digital media" included. That means that 83% of us want the used textbook, with optional website attachments.


Running Press: Thank You! Now on Instagram!


Notes: Bookstore Sales up in January; Skylight to Grow

Bookstore sales in January started off the new year nicely, rising 4.7% to $2.3 billion from $2.2 billion in January 2007, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. By comparison, total retail sales in January rose 3.9% to $343,938 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, bookstore sales are of new books and do not include "electronic home shopping, mail-order, or direct sale" or used book sales.


Welcome news about a Los Angeles bookseller appeared on the Los Angeles Times Jacket Copy blog: "Come May--give or take a few weeks--Skylight Books will open a second space right next door in the 1934 building at the corner of Vermont and Melbourne avenues, promises general manager and co-owner Kerry Slattery."

In the bookshop's March newsletter, Slattery writes, "It's all so exciting. It will be at least a few months before all is ready, but we plan to move our art, film, music, theater and a few other sections to the new space, which will allow us to also expand a few sections."

She told Jacket Copy there are two reasons why Skylight is expanding. First, Skylight has "a supportive landlord who is offering us the space for a fair rent. He could have rented this space for a lot more money to some chain operation. He thinks that the bookstore is an important thing."

And second, "Ours is a walking neighborhood. People are going to other shops and restaurants, the movies. I don't know that there are that many places like that any more around the Los Angeles area."


More good news: filmmaker Dan Seitz has come up with an unusual plan to repay a favor that Pandemonium Books & Games, Cambridge, Mass., did for him last year. Seitz told the Boston Globe that last March he happened to enter the bookshop during a particularly bad time in his life and found a copy of Tom Holt's satirical fantasy, Ye Gods.

"I started reading it on the 70 bus, and I don't think I ever laughed so hard," Seitz said "The book really just broke through . . . cleared away the clouds, and let me think."

Now that Pandemonium confronts $160,000 of debts, Seitz has begun "video recording interviews of patrons for a documentary about the store. He hopes to have an edited product by July, then sell it through distributors, online, and at the store. Proceeds will be used to pay back taxes."


Wall Street is in bear territory these days, but Barnes & Noble chairman Len Riggio continues to be bullish. The first three trading days of last week, he bought another 420,000 shares of company stock, for between $26.97 and $27.81 each, or a minimum of $11.3 million. Only the week before, Riggio bought 890,000 shares of B&N (Shelf Awareness, March 10, 2008). He now owns approximately 14.7 million shares of B&N.


Worst headline of the week: "Fahrenheit 451: Bookstore roof catches fire" accompanied a report by WOOD-TV, Grand Rapids, Mich., about a blaze at the RiverTown Crossings Mall Barnes & Noble bookstore Saturday. A faulty neon sign, rather than futuristic bibliophobes, was cited as the likely cause.  


Warning that "many of spring 2008's nonfiction books are two shades darker than somber," the Seattle Times featured a Spring Books Preview.


The Southern California Independent Booksellers Association's children's book and literacy dinner takes place Saturday, March 29, at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Pasadena, Pasadena, Calif. Featured speakers are Jon J. Muth, Frank Beddor and Dean Lorey. Special guest is Robin Preiss Glasser. Some 20 authors will be in attendance. For more information, click here.


BookBeat: A Book & Music Cafe, Fairfax, Calif., is for sale. Gary Kleiman, who created the store in Marin County almost nine years ago, said that "with two beautiful children to raise and a couple of new projects in the works, it is time for me to step out from behind the counter."

He added, "My ultimate goal at this time is to find someone to whom I can pass over the reins of BookBeat. Someone who loves it as the great community haven it has become. Someone to keep the independent and creative spirit alive. Someone who will continue fostering the music scene, the children's poetry readings, etc., and the strength of the café and bookstore that already exist."

Gary Kleiman may be reached at


BINC: Double Your Donation with PRH

Image of the Day: Philadelphia Stories

On Thursday, March 6, Harleysville Books, Harleysville, Pa., hosted 14 authors and illustrators from the Philadelphia area, who drew some 100 customers--parents and children. Owner Shelly Plumb (left of center, in lilac) appeared with most of the group.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: A Tender Thing by Emily Neuberger

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Please Excuse Nick Smith

This morning on the Today Show: Jean Chatzky, author of Make Money, Not Excuses: Wake Up, Take Charge, and Overcome Your Financial Fears Forever (Three Rivers Press, $13.95, 9780307341532/0307341534).


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Eleanor Clift, contributing editor of Newsweek and author of Two Weeks of Life: A Memoir of Love, Death and Politics (Basic Books, $26, 9780465002511/046500251X).


Today on Fresh Air: investigative reporter Aram Roston, author of The Man Who Pushed America to War: The Extraordinary Life, Adventures and Obsessions of Ahmad Chalabi (Nation Books, $27.50, 9781568583532/1568583532).


Today on NPR's Michael Dresser Show: Wagner James Au, author of The Making of Second Life: Notes from the New World (Collins, $25.95, 9780061353208/0061353205).


Tonight on the Charlie Rose Show: Robin Wright, Washington Post staff writer whose new book is Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East (Penguin Press, $26.95, 9781594201110/1594201110).


Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Brian Fagan, author of The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations (Bloomsbury Press, $26.95, 9781596913929/1596913924).


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Nick Smith, author of I Was Wrong: The Meanings of Apologies (Cambridge University Press, $24.99, 9780521684231/0521684234).


Tomorrow on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Jeffrey Sachs, author of Common Wealth: Economics of a Crowded Planet (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594201271/1594201277).


Fanfare for the Chronicles of Narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe earned more than $750 million worldwide in 2005. The second film in the series based on C.S. Lewis's books, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, will be released on May 16.

Two months ahead of time, HarperCollins has launched a "Read It Before You See It" global digital campaign for the Chronicles of Narnia, which aims to "expand our audience by further engaging it and increasing its user-experience with the franchise, to grow readership in advance of the film," according to Diane Naughton, v-p of marketing.

Components of the campaign include a promotion on Facebook that features the Narnia Trivia Challenge and another on MySpace, which has a profile for Prince Caspian, a "Read It Before You See It" website, a consumer contest that runs through April 11, online advertising on and and an interactive game for children on


Books & Authors

Book Sense: May We Recommend

From last week's Book Sense bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Book Sense Picks:


Mudbound by Hillary Jordan (Algonquin, $22.95, 9781565125698/156512569X). "Rural Mississippi just after the Second World War is a hard and muddy place. Hillary Jordan's novel Mudbound evokes the era brilliantly--returning soldiers trying to find their way after the brutality of the war, some facing the continuing brutality of a racist America. A very compelling story."--Cathy Langer, Tattered Cover Bookstore, Denver, Colo.

Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain by Martha Sherrill (Penguin Press, $25.95, 9781594201240/1594201242). "After World War II and over the course of decades, Morie Sawataishi bred Japanese Akitas and brought them back from the brink of extinction. A remarkable story in deceptively simple prose. Morie is not always a likeable man, but his passion rings true, and, in the end, I deeply admired him."--Lisa Stefanacci, The Book Works, Del Mar, Calif.


We Disappear by Scott Heim (Harper Perennial, $13.95, 9780061468971/0061468975). "Scott Heim here revisits some of the same motifs from his novel Mysterious Skin, including a vivid, worn-down Kansas landscape; an unusual mother-and-son relationship; and, most poignantly, time lost, due to people being stolen, abducted, or 'disappeared.' No matter what odd thing happens next, I wanted to go on the ride with these characters and their ill-advised lives."--Suzanne Perry, The Secret Garden, Seattle, Wash.

For Middle Readers

Benjamin Dove
by Fridrik Erlings (North-South/Night Sky Books, $15.95, 9780735821507/073582150X). "Four friends, ages nine to 12, are feeling helpless after an encounter with a bully. They decide to stand together and become Knights in the Order of the Red Dragon. This quality book about the good and bad power of camaraderie will keep boys interested and aid them in exploring friendship issues."--Janet Bibeau, Storybook Cove, Hanover, Mass.

[Many thanks to Book Sense and the ABA!]

The Bestsellers

Mystery Bestsellers for February

The following were the bestselling titles at member bookstores of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association during February:


1. An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
2. L.A. Outlaws by T. Jefferson Parker
3. Atomic Lobster by Tim Dorsey
4. Aunt Dimity, Vampire Hunter by Nancy Atherton
5. The Anatomy of Deception by Lawrence Goldstone
6. The Black Dove by Steve Hockensmith
7. A Pale Horse by Charles Todd
8. Hell's Bay by James Hall
9. Prepared for Rage by Dana Stabenow
10. The Crazy School by Cornelia Read


1. The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson
2. Money Shot by Christa Faust
3. Thistle & Twigg by Mary Saums
4. Magic City by James Hall
5. Puss 'n Cahoots by Rita Mae Brown
6. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
7. The Watchman by Robert Crais
8. Christine Falls by Benjamin Black
9. What Are You Wearing to Die? by Patricia Sprinkle
10. Storm Runners by T. Jefferson Parker

[Many thanks to IMBA!]


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