Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 18, 2008

Grove Atlantic: The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broom

Feiwel & Friends: A Delayed Life: The True Story of the Librarian of Auschwitz by Dita Kraus

New Directions: Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming by László Krasznahorkai, translated by Ottilie Mulzet

Workman Publishing: Real Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A 28-Day Program to Realize the Power of Meditation (Second Edition, Revised) by Sharon Salzberg

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci, illustrated by Jim Rugg

Clarion Books: The Thief Knot: A Greenglass House Story by Kate Milford


Notes: 'E-fairness' in N.Y. State; Comedy Fundraiser in Conn.

In the wake of passage last week in New York State of a final budget that includes a provision requiring Internet retailers to collect sales tax on sales made to New York residents, Bookselling This Week addressed "some of the questions that independent booksellers in other states might have regarding how the provision will, or won't, affect their business activities in New York."

ABA COO Oren Teicher commented, "Since 1999, the very start of our nationwide fight for e-fairness, this campaign has been about leveling the playing field for Main Street bookstores, who have had to contend with out-of-state online retailers that have skirted sales tax laws by offering consumers tax-free shopping. The Internet Sales Tax provision ensures that government is not favoring one retailer over another and that New York-based independent booksellers are enjoying a level playing field."


Finalists for the 2008 SIBA Book Award can be seen at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance website. Beginning this year, the awards ceremony will be held as part of the Decatur Book Festival on Labor Day Weekend in Decatur, Ga. The festival attracts some 60,000 attendees.


Greenwich Time reported that when Greenwich, Conn., resident Jane Condon, "of Last Comic Standing fame, heard that Arcadia Coffee Co. and Just Books Too were in danger of being sold, she decided to take action. She contacted owner Jenny Lawton to see if she could put together a benefit to raise money to keep the stores open."

Said Condon: "We just want to try to save it, maybe we fail, but at least we can try." The Comedy Show fundraiser next Wednesday will feature Condon and New York comedians Brad Zimmerman and Richie Byrne.

"The community support has been fantastic," said Lawton.


Bookselling This Week profiled Idlewild Books, which officially opens on Sunday but has had one major event already (Shelf Awareness, April 2, 2008). The 1,000-sq.-ft. store stocks some 6,000 titles, specializing in travel and international literature, and is located just off lower Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Owner David Del Vecchio, who worked at the U.N. and has traveled and lived around the world, told BTW that the idea of arranging titles by country "always appealed to me." The store "seemed like the best way to bring together all the things I care about--literature, travel, humanitarian issues, and so on--and to create a space where other people who care about these things can meet."

Some 40% of books will be travel guides, with the rest literature and nonfiction, including books about politics, culture and history, as well as graphic novels. "The idea is that a novel or a book about a country's history, for example, can be at least as valuable to understanding that place as any guide book," Del Vecchio said. "And, of course, it's not just a store for travelers. The last three novels I read were set in places I've never been."

Idlewild Books is located at 12 W. 19th St., New York, N.Y. 10011; 212-414-8888;


Ron Chamblin, owner of Chamblin BookMine, Jacksonville, Fla., has announced the "soft opening" of a second store in the city, Chamblin Uptown, according to Florida Times-Union, which also offered a video tour of the new location.

"It looks to me like there's so much competition out there and so many opportunities to buy books, so really, the advantage we have is we have so much square footage," said Chamblin, who owns the buildings where his stores are located. "If you have the square footage, that allows you to have the variety. That's where the draw is."


While all the attention was on Manhattan and J.K. Rowling's days in court, a BBC book about Doctor Who's foes, the Daleks, "has been cleared of infringing copyright in London," according to, well, the BBC, which reported that the case "was brought by publishers JHP, who printed four books with stories by Dalek creator Terry Nation in the 60s. Managing director Paul Fishman said the BBC's Dalek Survival Guide, published in 2002, used material from those books and violated JHP's copyright. At the High Court, Mr Justice Norris said JHP held a licence to publish the original books, but not the copyright."


Ready for the Eat, Pray, Love tour? The Toronto Star explored Bali in search of characters Elizabeth Gilbert encountered on the road to writing her bestseller: "Although bookshops here sell her book, no one seems to know where to find its characters. . . . The tourist bureau sends us to the bookshop, but the bookseller has no idea who is actually profiled in the book."


The write stuff. If Barack Obama's success as a presidential candidate mirrors his success as an author, then his future is bright. The New York Times reported that, based upon 2007 tax returns, the Obama family had "a household income of $4.2 million due to a sharp increase in the sales of his books [Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope] during the first year of his presidential campaign."


"Books here are almost as ubiquitous as tulips," wrote the Guardian's Sarah Ream in her tribute to Amsterdam, "literature's capital city."


Borders Group is landing at Kennedy Airport in September, when it opens a 1,734-sq.-ft. store in the JetBlue Airways Terminal 5. The store will stock some 8,000 book titles, including audiobooks, a Paperchase gift and stationery shop and DVD and CD titles.

In the New York metropolitan area, Borders has a store at LaGuardia Airport and three at Newark Liberty Airport. Borders also operates stores in airports in Detroit, Baltimore, Phoenix, Orlando, Seattle, Boston, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, North Carolina and Washington, D.C.


Anne Zafian has been appointed v-p, deputy publisher, of the trade imprints at Simon & Schuster's children's division, a job created in February when the children's book area reorganized (Shelf Awareness, February 20, 2008).

Zafian will oversee S&S Books for Young Readers, Paula Wiseman Books, Atheneum, McElderry Books and the company's still to-be-named West Coast imprint. She joined S&S in 2004 as director of distributor sales and retail marketing and was promoted to v-p in 2006.

Paula Wiseman has been promoted to v-p, publisher, of Paula Wiseman Books. 


Martinique poet and politician Aimé Césaire died Thursday at 94. According to the Associated Press (via the New York Times), Césaire was "an anticolonialist poet and politician who was honored throughout the French-speaking world and who was an early proponent of black pride" and "one of the Caribbean’s most celebrated cultural figures."


Ingram: Congratulations 2019 National Book Award Winners - Learn More>

Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Red Leather Diary

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


This morning on the Early Show: Stephen Prothero, author of Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know--And Doesn't (HarperOne, $14.95, 9780060859527/0060859527).


This weekend on Weekend Edition: Louise Erdrich, whose new novel is The Plague of Doves (HarperCollins, $25.95, 9780060515126/0060515120).


Soho Press: The Seep by Chana Porter

Books & Authors

Mandahla: Cookbooks for Mom

It's not exactly a stretch to suggest cookbooks for Mother's Day gifts, but how about buying her a cookbook and making her dinner from it? Or at least brunch.

You could start the brunch with French Toast Casserole ("the smell of butter, kissed with cinnamon") from Bon Appétit, Y'All by Virginia Willis (Ten Speed Press, $32.50, 9781580088534/1580088538, March 2008), and then entertain mom by reading selected passages--it's a very funny book. Take Willis's recipe for Deviled Eggs: "The secret is butter, a tip I picked up in culinary school that takes this Southern staple from delicious to sublime and renders people unable to use the sense God gave a cat to stop eating." It's also a splendid cookbook, with recipes like Black-Eyed Pea Salad, Shrimp with Parmigiano-Reggiano Grits and Tomatoes, Bourbon-Baked Ham and Blackberry Cobbler. The first recipe my husband tried was not, sadly, those wicked deviled eggs, or Corn on the Cob with mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese, but happily, it was a most delicious Potato Leek Soup. He started planning the next Southern meal as soon as he finished his first bowl.

Something a bit healthier (although all things in moderation, right?), and with recipes just as delicious as those with butter and cheese, is The Asian Vegan Kitchen by Hema Parekh (Kodansha, $19.95 paperback, 9784770030696/477003069X, April 2008). I thought I wasn't a fan of vegan cooking, but this cookbook has changed my mind--if you leave out meat, Asian cooking is pretty much vegan already, and "missing" ingredients don't seem to be so missing after all. Parekh includes recipes from across Asia, giving it a range that should satisfy most needs. Cauliflower Coconut Curry, Vietnamese Fried Rice, Tamarind Soup with Pineapple and Okra, Korean Noodles, Eggplant with Ginger and Garlic, North Indian Potato Curry--healthy and yummy.

Does the world need another Italian cookbook? Sure, especially if it's by Massimo Capra, who wrote Massimo's Italian Kitchen (Sellers Publishing, $22.95 original trade paper, 9781569069950/1569069956, February 2008). Capra, born in Cremona, Italy, and now living in Toronto, where he has two restaurants, has subtitled his book Authentic One-Dish Meals from a Seasoned Chef. This is a bit misleading--the dishes are, indeed, one-dish, but most still need another dish to make a meal, although what could be wrong with making a meal of Capesante con Pancetta (Roasted Sea Scallops with Bacon) or Trancia di Salmone alle Olive (Salmon Steak with Roasted Black Olives)? It's just more of the good stuff, right? And it all looks good, from Risotto del Contadino with sausage, tomatoes and Grana Padano to Risotto al Cioccolato, with vanilla bean, rum and dark chocolate.

For pure reading pleasure, with a few recipes for leavening, try Cornbread Nation 4 edited by Dale Volberg Reed and John Shelton Reed (University of Georgia Press, $17.95, 9780820330891/0802330892, April 2008), the latest collection in the series from Southern Foodways Alliance. It opens with the memory of spring in Virginia by the late Edna Lewis: "A warm morning and a red sun rising behind a thick fog gave the image of a pale ink veil supported by a gentle breeze"; it ends with a benediction from the esteemed Rev. Will D. Campbell, on food, race and holding on to the big loaf. In between, Molly O'Neill, in "Sugar: Savior or Satan," writes about layers of sugar memory, to "the cellular level where good and evil do battle for possession of the soul." In "Making a Mess of Poke," Dan Huntley explains poke sallet (not "polk salad," no matter what Tony Joe White says) and how it connects Southerners with their past. The debate over Southern vs. soul food, a poem about cornbread and buttermilk, Moon Pies of course, and an essay on why Jews don't get quail--so many tasty things to read about while you ponder the right wine to serve with rinds (Sauvignon Blanc, with a nod to Portuguese whites, of course).--Marilyn Dahl

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Providence by Max Barry

Book Brahmins: Joshilyn Jackson

Novelist Joshilyn Jackson lives in Powder Springs, Ga., with her husband, two kids, a dog, four gerbils, a scurrilous kitten and a 22-lb., one-eyed Maine Coon cat named Franz Schubert. Both her SIBA Award-winning first novel, Gods in Alabama, and her Georgia Author of the Year-winning second novel, Between, Georgia, were chosen as the No. 1 Book Sense picks for the months of their release. Her third novel, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, was published on March 4 by Grand Central. You can visit her at


On your nightstand now:

The ARC of a purely wonderful thing called The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker.
Favorite book when you were a child:

I went back and forth between reading the Trixie Belden series and the Conan the Barbarian books.

Your top five authors:

Contemporary? Sara Gruen, Frank Turner Hollon, Tayari Jones, Tom Franklin and Karen Abbott.

Book you've faked reading:

I've always felt life is too short to read books that don't interest me, and at 18, I did not get the wonder that is Hawthorne. I got an A on my Hawthorne test though, thanks to Cliff, his notes and some judicious skimming. Meanwhile, I was sneak-reading Aldous Huxley and Anthony Burgess under my desk.
Book you are an evangelist for:

The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel. I love ALL of Kimmel's work, but that book makes me want to grab a sandwich board and go scream on a street corner.
Book you've bought for the cover:

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff. The cover caught my eye, and the brilliant first line caught the rest of me.
Book that changed your life:

My 10th or 11th reading of Emma. I read and reread all of Austen's novels over and over in high school. I remember returning to Emma after a four- or five-year Austen hiatus in college, and realizing it wasn't at all the dear little soft-gloved lurve story I so fondly remembered. It was biting, brilliant and hilarious social commentary. The experience changed me as both a reader and a writer.
Favorite line from a book:

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." From Jeanette Winterson's The Passion.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Life of Pi by Yann Martel.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'That Whale Is Out There, Man!'

I was a devoted reader of Dennis Johnson's MobyLives, one of the first blogs to look at the publishing industry through an alternative lens; to open up the conversation a bit; to be, quite often, just so damned funny!

MobyLives had a motto: That Whale Is Out There, Man!

Last week, I visited Johnson, the co-publisher--with Valerie Merians--of Melville House Publishing, at the company's cool new office/bookshop/events space/gallery on Plymouth St. in Brooklyn's DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) neighborhood.

Describing the area as "the epicenter of indie publishing," Johnson said, "We moved not only because we were recruited, but because something is happening here." Earlier this year, Melville House relocated from Hoboken, N.J., and now occupies beautiful ground floor space in a building that also houses the offices of Verso and the London Review of Books.

My first impressions upon entering the new Melville House digs were of light, space and words. The storefront, corner location features two walls of windows. A third wall consists of bookshelves, which separate the retail space from the publishing offices. These bookcases swivel--like secret passages in a Gothic mansion library--allowing entry to the Melville House biblio-laboratory. During events, they can be reversed for striking visual effect, with the books displayed face-out through clouded plexiglass.

The revolving bookcases were conceived and designed by Jeri Coppola, a New York artist whose work is currently being shown here, including an amazing piece set against the fourth wall. According to Johnson, Coppola is "a photographer, but she does some interesting sculptural things with her photos--such as cutting them up into these great pieces of writing that she suspends over walls so the shadows kind of deepen what they have to say."

Display tables--some on wheels so they can be moved out of the way for events--are arranged with evident care and artistry. The bookshop showcases all of Melville House's titles as well as books from other independent presses, including Verso, Europa, New Press, Akashic, Haymarket and Soft Skull. Soon to join them will be Feminist Press and City Lights. Cutting edge literary journals and magazines are also sold.

"We think we've got the only bookstore that's selling only works by indie presses," said Johnson, adding with a wry smile, "I await correction. We thought it would be great to have a place where we could display our books. In some ways it's old-fashioned. Publishers like Charles Scribner used to have bookshops."

Johnson loves the fact that so many booklovers live in Brooklyn, but he also hopes to get "snooty Manhattanites to cross the bridge. On the weekend, it's very busy. The surprising thing is the tourists are finding this area."

One of the bookshop's more notable visitors was the band REM, which came in scouting for a photo shoot shortly after the store opened. "Michael Stipe apparently knew Jeri Coppola's work from having seen an earlier exhibit in a gallery downtown, and wanted the band's picture taken standing behind the one in our store." And yes, Stipe bought a book.

The potential for hosting events excites Johnson. "We wanted to do something to make it a gathering place," he said. Already C-Span has filmed here, most recently a discussion on "The Future of Independent Publishing," featuring Andre Schiffrin, Verso's Jacob Stevens and Anthony Arnove of Haymarket Books. In addition to panels and author readings, a new Lunchtime 10-Minute Lecture series is planned, beginning with Lewis Lapham on "What is the Value of Money?".

When I asked Johnson if he was concerned that other bookstores might be worried about his retail venture, he said, "Ha! We're no threat. Any good retailer, and most mediocre ones, would take one look at us and see that. Valerie and I were artists first, remember, and we've clearly set this place up as more of a gallery for books, showing off an artifact representing a concept, than as a space idealized for retail. But we do think by adding to the scene here we're all helping each other--we're part of the fact that this neighborhood, indeed Brooklyn in general, is becoming a destination for booklovers. That's good for all of us.

"Besides, nobody, and I mean nobody, has a stronger sense of common mission with indie booksellers than indie publishers, especially us. We share each other's pain, and joy for that matter; we see it as part of the same thing. Melville House is more about celebrating that very concept than anything else."

Publisher, bookstore, events space, gallery--That whale is out there, man!

"The motto will never change," said Johnson.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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