Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sharjah International Book Fair: Your Chance to Get Your Book in Front of 1 Million Readers - Oct. 30th - Nov. 9th, 2019 - Learn More!

Other Press: Nvk by Temple Drake

Quirk Books: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Magination Press: Stand Up!: Be an Upstander and Make a Difference by Wendy L Moss

St. Martin's Press: A Bad Day for Sunshine (Sunshine Vicram #1) by Darynda Jones

Grand Central Publishing: PostScript by Cecelia Ahern


Notes: Cody's a Good Neighbor; Rowling's Words 'Ours Now'

"Only a few years ago, bookstores helped define neighborhoods," wrote John King in the San Francisco Chronicle. "They were physical and cultural markers on the landscape--showcases of what mattered, there and then. Now, instead of perking up when I step through the doors of a good bookstore, I wonder morosely how long it will last."

King explored the changing landscape of the indie bookstore business, focusing particularly on recent changes at Cody's Books, Berkeley, Calif., which have made the storied indie "lean but not mean."

According to Melissa Mytinger, manager of Cody's, "It's an antiquarian business model in a changing world." To contend with new challenges, she said, Cody's relocation could help downtown Berkeley evolve as a cultural destintion. "Our goal is to meet our sales targets long enough for the larger changes to occur."

King concluded with words of hope: "But a good bookstore is like a good city block: varied and rich, with layers that bear evidence of imagination and pride. There's a tactile connection to the ephemeral world of ideas. This is merchandise, but it's not something to be worn for a season or hung up on a wall; it's something to be discussed and shared, maybe even something that will shape your thoughts and actions. There's more going on than the creation of a scene. It's the slow formation of identities, of thoughts and passions and who knows what else."


The honor system used by Local Hero bookstore, Ojai, Calif., to sell newspapers before the shop opens was showcased by Boing Boing.


The emotional rollercoaster that the Harry Potter court case seems to be in danger of becoming (Shelf Awareness, April 15, 2008), continued when Steven Vander Ark "broke down and cried on the witness stand Tuesday as he faced off in court against his idol J.K. Rowling," according to the Associated Press (via USA Today).

Described in the article as stammering and "choking on his words," the man accused of infringing upon Rowling's copyright testified, "It's been . . . It's been . . . It's been difficult because there has been a lot of criticism, obviously, and that was never the intention. . . . This has been an important part of my life for the last nine years or so."

USA Today reported that Vander Ark "acknowledged that he, too, had substantial concerns all along about whether publishing an encyclopedia based on Rowling's Potter universe would constitute copyright infringement. He said he was talked into doing it by the publishing company [RDR Books]."


In an editorial entitled "J.K. Rowling may own Harry's world, but we own her words now," yesterday's Times of London (©News Corp.) offered this take on the issue:

"A generation has now grown up besotted (©Milton) with Quidditch and Hogwarts. However, it is not astonishing that J.K. Rowling is using a court case to remind the writers of a zany (©Shakespeare) Harry Potter lexicon, now making the jump from cyberspace (©William Gibson) to print, that it is not common property and she did invent it all. She may succeed in persuading the court that her copyright is violated by some parts of the proposed encyclopedia. Indeed, she may have a respectable commercial case, but not much of a cultural one. However, unless she employs a mole (©le Carré) to oversee our every conversation and written exchange, she should not try to suppress a collection of her invented words. For Voldemort, Muggles, Horcruxes and all Rowling's other serendipitous (©Walpole) coinages are ours now; it would be pig-headed (©Jonson) not to let us use them as we wish.

"English is so full of the neologisms of authors that if we had to credit each one, we would assassinate (©Shakespeare) our prose, and make readers chortle (©Carroll) mightily. Without being didactic (©Milton), Rowling can be assured that she is in good company in contributing words, gratis, to the language. The best she should hope for is that her words become as widely adopted as those of other authors. Perhaps the highest honour has been bestowed on the quark (©Joyce), used as the name for a sub-atomic particle. As there are quarks across the Universe, Joyce may be our most disseminated author. Rowling should be proud if Doxies, Thestrals or Butterbeer make it as far as a lexicon."


Nearly 20 years ago, Hank Maschal went to his local bookshop to request a copy of The Complete Guide to Starting a Used Bookstore. According to the Daily Review, "Little did he know the lady behind the counter would offer to sell him more than just a book."

"She asked if I wanted the store, too," he said.

And he did. For nearly two decades, Maschal, 75, has owned The Book Shop, Hayward, Calif. "You can never have enough books for everyone. How many other win-win businesses are out there?" he asked.

Shop manager Renee Rettig added, "Hank is doing a great service to the community by keeping an independently run bookstore open. It's a place for freedom of thought and freedom of speech. It has the basic pillars that make America great. It's a beacon of hope."


Back Pages Books, Waltham, Mass., celebrates its third anniversary this week, though the mood is mixed. The Daily News Tribune reported that owner Alex Green "has already made his way through a gauntlet of financial hurdles and is now turning toward others to sustain his Moody Street business."

After sending a recent "mass e-mail to over 800 acquaintances, business owners and book lovers, Green said the response has been tremendous, prompting him almost immediately to create a tiered member's reward program that offers incentives to shoppers who donate anywhere from $20 to $2,500."

"I love being in a store that is full of ideas," said Green. "You get something much better, much more honest, much kinder when you do something that can mix business, art and community. . . . I have a tremendous amount of faith that I don't think is misplaced that people will come forward and help. I would say it's a really promising start to things. We do still have quite a ways to go."


As part of a series spotlighting new local businesses, the Taunton Daily Gazette reported that Somethin's Brewin' Book Café, Lakeville, Mass., "offers patrons the chance to dive into a novel while enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee or tasty sandwich."

The café is located in a former library, so owners Lorraine Carboni and Kristen Scott stocked the built-in bookshelves with books for their customers to sample. "We’ve gotten a lot of donations from people. We also do trade-ins," Scott said.


Smelled any good books lately?

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, "Researchers at Glasgow’s University of Strathclyde are studying the smell of old books to 'sniff' out the chemical signs of aging. Books are placed for 24 to 48 hours in a sealed chamber, where 'material and compounds responsible for the odour from the books' will be extracted and analyzed . . . Findings from the analysis will be used to determine the best practices for storing old books--and may also explain where that musty old-book smell comes from."


Eric Svenson, a former Doubleday sales rep and longtime v-p of the Intimate Bookshop, which had stores in North Carolina and Georgia, died last Wednesday, April 9, according to the Charlotte Observer. He was 64.


Robert Kempe has joined Falls Media as director of marketing and publicity. Formerly he was advertising and promotions manager at Ballantine Books and earlier was creative marketing manager at Dutton/Gotham Books.


Flame Tree Publishing: Detective Mysteries Short Stories by Various Authors

Image of the Day: Marketing Unmarketable

Pamela Anderson creates a most marketable image of a celebrity reading. In this somewhat ironic case, the book is Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity by Anne Elizabeth Moore, a New Press title.


BINC - Double Your Impact

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Colm Tóibín on the Story-Behind-the-Story

This morning on the Early Show: Paulina Porizkova, the supermodel whose novel, A Model Summer (Hyperion, $14.95, 9781401309367/1401309364), is now out in paperback.


Today on Fresh Air: Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopal bishop in New Hampshire whose memoir is In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God (Seabury Books, $25, 9781596270886/1596270888).


Tonight on the Charlie Rose Show: Richard Price, author of Lush Life (FSG, $26, 9780374299255/0374299250).

Also on Charlie Rose: Jeffrey Sachs, author of Common Wealth: Economics of a Crowded Planet (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594201271/1594201277).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Deirdre Imus, author of Growing Up Green: Baby and Child Care (S&S, $15.95, 9781416541240/1416541241). She will also appear tomorrow on the View.


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Marcus Buckingham, author of Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance (Free Press, $30, 9780743261678/0743261674).

Also on Today: Lily Koppel, author of The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life through the Pages of a Lost Journal (HarperCollins, $23.95, 9780061256776/0061256773).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Colm Tóibín, author of Mothers and Sons: Stories (Scribner, $14, 9781416534662/1416534660). As the show put it: "Colm Tóibín candidly describes the inspirations for the stories in his first collection. Sometimes a landscape is enough to trigger a story, sometimes an anecdote or a bit of family lore. Tóibín is unusually forthright in telling the story-behind-the-story, showing us how a work of fiction is made."


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Kevin Phillips, author of Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism (Viking, $25.95, 9780670019076/0670019070).


Tomorrow on NPR's Fresh Air: Michael T. Klare, author of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy (Metropolitan Books, $26, 9780805080643/0805080643).


Tomorrow on NPR's Talk of the Nation: Misha Glenny, author of McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld (Knopf, $27.95, 9781400044115/1400044111).


Tomorrow on Oprah: Craig Kielburger, author of Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World (Fireside, $23, 9780743298315/0743298314).


Tomorrow on the Charlie Rose Show: Cokie Roberts, author of Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation (Morrow, $26.95, 9780060782344/006078234X).


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

Books & Authors

Awards: Orange Prize Shortlist Long on Debut Novels

Three of the six authors named to the Orange Prize shortlist are being honored for their first book. The Guardian reported that Chair of the judges Kirsty Lang said she was "extremely pleased" to see Sadie Jones, Heather O'Neill and Patricia Wood "on a list that reflects the scope, variety and international breadth of the Orange prize."

The Orange Prize shortlist:

  • The Outcast by Sadie Jones
  • Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill
  • Lottery by Patricia Wood
  • When We Were Bad by Charlotte Mendelson
  • The Road Home by Rose Tremain
  • Fault Lines by Nancy Huston

The prize celebrates fiction by women and is open to any novel written in English. The winner will receive £30,000 (US$58,893) at a ceremony in London's Royal Festival Hall on June 4.

Adding a little spice to the announcement was a report in the Scotsman that nominee Sadie Jones had called for a new men-only literary award, arguing that such a prize might encourage more boys to read.

"I think there should be a literary prize for men," she said. "I have a son, and you hear a lot about boys not reading. Anything that adds interest or glamour for boys can only be good sense."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Love Story of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey

Book Review

Mandahla: Salvage

Salvage by Jane Kotapish (MacAdam/Cage Publishing, $24.00 Hardcover, 9781596922839, March 2008)

Nothing new can be said about mothers and daughters. Fortunately, the old can be said in a new way, which is what Jane F. Kotapish has done with this quirky and sometimes sad story.

When the unnamed narrator was 10, her mother, Lois, was pregnant, and then one day she wasn't, taking to her darkened room for days with a hot water bottle. "I named my dead sister Nancy and talked to her in the privacy of my closet for eleven years." Nancy was ornery, furious over her death, and prone to plotting destruction. Lois divorces her husband, and she and the girl fall into "an easy tandem punctuated by loud but quickly passing storms." Lois often avoided arguments with her sarcastic little daughter by going to the kitchen, lighting a cigarette and riffling through her recipe card box, where "she found the answers to all of her parenting questions--and tragically, none of her cooking ones--in that box."

The daughter moves to New York, leaving Nancy behind, and thrives, but "an uncouth conclusion" to her Manhattan story begins and ends on the F train platform. After the incident, she moves back to Virginia, where she buys an old Victorian house, because the back yard is lavish and reckless, filled with white violets and peonies, giant oaks, weeping willows, herbs; the day she views it, "the roses have completed a magnificent bloom and linger like drunk women at the end of a party, voluptuous past repair, faded, sick with their own perfume." She sees this house, "a play house filed with the ghosts of children and pies," as a place to banish her own ghosts. Here she reads old magazines while drinking white wine, then sleeping until noon. She is flirting with the possibility of going mad, but is still as close to happy as she has ever been. But soon after she moves into the dark green house, her mother begins talking to saints. "Cuthbert came by to see me on Tuesday," she says one day, at the house for tea. St. Cuthbert from her cardio funk class, who used to tend sheep, and now is a veterinarian. Or John, a wonderful fisherman, whom Lois met at the Audubon Society. The narrator decides her mother is nuts, until Lois starts to bring her saints by for lunch.

Salvage is a crazy, lush, tender story of two broken people, and the attempts they make to mend themselves. The narrator says, "I am remembering eleven years of my life that I now have the luxury of labeling as psychotic . . . I gave my irreplaceable girlhood away . . . I tiptoe in exquisitely tiny steps around the question: where was my mother all that time?" This is the kind of book you finish, tell everyone you know about it, and then realize you are ruined for anything else for a while. Sweet misery.--Marilyn Dahl

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