Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, April 22, 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


Notes: Happy Earth Day!; Ex-Booksellers Doing Well

Here's a nifty idea for celebrating Earth Day: Penguin Classics is supporting the Nature Conservancy's Plant a Billion Trees campaign, which aims to replant much of Brazil's Atlantic Forest. The cost is only $1 for each tree. To help, Penguin is doing print and online advertising, a 25-city radio satellite tour featuring people from the Nature Conservancy and Penguin Classics, a publicity campaign, and distributing display easels and bookmarks that encourage readers to go to to donate. The campaign and Penguin Classics's efforts run through August.

Penguin Classics executive editor Elda Rotor noted that the house publishes many important works on natural history and conservation, including works by Rachel Carson, John Muir, John Wesley Powell, Henry David Thoreau and Peter Matthiessen. She also said that the company is engaging in "sustainable business practices from the fiber that goes into the paper we use to print our books to all aspects of our day-to-day business operations."


As expected, the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency Board has approved the purchase of the building owned by the owners of Acres of Books, Long Beach, Calif., the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported. The store, which opened in 1934, has more than a year until it must vacate the site. Part of the $2.85 million agreement includes relocation benefits--owners Phil and Jackie Smith indicated that they are looking at other sites for the store, some outside Long Beach.

The site will be part of a mixed-use development that is hoped will start redevelopment in the area.


Check out a piece by Michael Shatzkin posted on Michael Cairn's blog, PersonaNonData, about some deeper issues raised--or raised again--by some of Amazon's recent announcements involving POD and pricing.


Opening the front door proved to be a profitable move for Kathy and Will Krantz, owners of Milwaukee Street Used Books, Janesville, Wis. The Janesville Gazette reported that the couple began selling used books online in 2001 "from a 140-year-old storefront" they had bought for storage, but four years ago they "opened it to the public for limited hours."

"It really was just a matter of unlocking the door," said Will of the decision that, in two years, has seen their bricks-and-mortar book sales rise from five percent to about a third of their total business.


The success of the Book Place, Memphis, Tenn., may, according to the Memphis Daily News, "be attributed to all the store employees having been at one time regular customers who share a love of reading. Or maybe it's the willingness of those employees to go out of their way to help every customer who enters the store find the right book."

Barbara Van Dyke, who has owned the bookshop since the 1980s, agreed: "We've had some customers coming in here that have been coming in for as long as I have. So we know what they like to read, we know what they're looking for.  . . . Between all nine of us that work here, I think we cover everything as far as all the genres.

"It's a wonderful business," she added. "If you have to work, it's the best job in the world. The only other job I can think of that may be better than this is cutting Brad Pitt's hair."


Jan Beatty, some of whose poems are "sexually explicit," says the local Pittsburgh, Pa., branch of Joseph-Beth is censoring her by allowing her to read from her new collection, Red Sugar, only under certain conditions, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

For its part, Joseph-Beth says that some of Beatty's poems are too erotic to be read over a sound system in the "family-friendly" store. Among its offers: a signing without a reading or a reading without the sound system turned on.


A story titled "Hot Time, Living in the City" in yesterday's New York Times focusing on people who move to cities to retire featured a huge photo of Clara Villarosa, who for many years owned Hue-Man Experience in Denver, Colo., then moved to New York City and co-founded Hue-Man Bookstore and Cafe in Harlem. She has since retired and says she is very happy living in the city and being near her two daughters in Brooklyn. She told the Times, "I love the opera and ballet, and I'm so close to Lincoln Center, and I like the theater. New York really had a special appeal to me culturally." Judging from the photo alone, Clara, one of our favorite--and always outspoken--booksellers, is thriving.


Also yesterday's Times wrote at length about a "revival" of one of Broadway's biggest flops--Moose Murders. On the 25th anniversary of the play's opening--and closing--night, John Borek, formerly with Village Green of Rochester, N.Y., put together a staged reading of the play, with the original music, in Rochester and will show it again in August at Sardi's, the Manhattan Theater District restaurant. The Times called this "all part of Mr. Borek's idea to pay homage to a play that has transcended its swift demise to become evocative shorthand in the theater world for anything that has gone tremendously wrong."

Borek told the paper: "Maybe Broadway had its chance, and they blew it. Maybe it will have a more receptive audience as a work of art."

Moose Murders might have been a flop, but this story about it is dynamite, particularly the critics' comments on the original production and a description of the plot.


Saved by a good book.

As reported by the Salem News, while raking her front yard last week, Judy Powers, who lives in Beverly, Mass., decided to take a break, went inside and got caught up reading Summer Light by Luanne Rice. At that point, two cars collided on the street in front, and an SUV crashed across her yard into the front of her house. Powers told a reporter after the accident that "she hadn't been able to reach her insurance agent and didn't know how extensive the damage was. She did, however, recommend the book . . . as well as others by Luanne Rice."


From NAIBAhood News:

The West Chester Public Library has recognized Chester County Book & Music Co. [West Chester, Pa.] as a Literacy Hero. The store won the "Corporate Good Neighbor" distinction, with seven other awards going to individuals and businesses who inspire the pursuit of knowledge. Chester County Book & Music Co. has long worked with the Public Library to bring in best-selling authors as mystery writer Lisa Scottoline, historian David McCullough and comic-memoirist John Grogan to chat with local readers. Children's section staffers review kids' books for a local publication called Kids' News, which librarians use themselves and share with children and parents. The company has held in-store fundraisers to benefit schools and nonprofit organizations, including designated days when a portion of store profits has gone to Chester County school libraries. The company has also supported the Chester County Adult Literacy program, donating space to hold adult-literacy programs, consultations and other activities--and contributing bookstore gift certificates as prizes for program award-winners.


Effective May 2, Andrew Wilkins, the always-entertaining publisher and deputy general manager of Thorpe-Bowker and Bookseller & Publisher magazine, Australia's book trade journal, is leaving the company. He will continue working at his book publishing company, Wilkins Farago, putting out "interesting books from around the world." He also says he is "looking forward to testing my mettle in the competitive world of international business publishing, and to pursuing other opportunities as they take my fancy." He may be reached at

Congratulations to Tim Coronel of Bookseller & Publisher, who is succeeding Wilkins as publisher.


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

Prairie Lights Celebrates 30 Years By Adding Two Partners

On the eve of its 30th anniversary next month, Prairie Lights Bookstore, Iowa City, Iowa, is changing ownership. Founder and sole owner James Harris is taking on two equal partners, both of whom are poetry graduates of the Iowa Writers Workshop: Jan Weissmiller, who started working at the store in 1979 and is a book buyer, and Jane Mead, an author and poet-in-residence at Wake Forest University for many years who lately has managed her family's ranch in Northern California.

The new arrangement was "a year in the making," Prairie Lights said, and is designed "to ensure the continued vitality and independence of a local institution that prides itself on an unusually stable, dedicated and knowledgeable staff, broad selection and loyal customer base."

The new owners said in a statement that they will "be brainstorming and developing new ideas for the business while maintaining the essential character of the store, including its traditions of customer service, wide selection of both classic and new titles, and strong community links."

Prairie Lights has a staff of about 30, more than a dozen of whom have worked at the store for more than 10 years, and stocks some 80,000 titles.

On Sunday, May 4, Prairie Lights celebrates its 30th anniversary with a community celebration at Iowa City’s Englert Theater. Michael Chabon and Vivian Stringer will read; a reception follows.


Running Press: Thank You! Now on Instagram!

Cool Idea of the Day: Small Press Salon at Skylight Books

Skylight Books, Los Angeles, Calif., shared its staff's small press passion last weekend by hosting the first of a series of salon-style discussions--this one showcasing bookseller favorites from Dzanc Books, Red Hen Press and Archipelago Books.

Jacket Copy, the Los Angeles Times book blog, noted that "Monica Carter, who came up with the idea for the salon series, says that since the staff has wide-ranging tastes, there are many more areas to explore, including nonfiction and graphic novels. Next month's salon is already planned."


BINC: Double Your Donation with PRH

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Howard Fineman Argues for Debates

Tomorrow morning on the Today Show:
  • James Arthur Ray, author of Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want (Hyperion, $24.95, 9781401322649/1401322646).
  • Maria Shriver, author of Just Who Will You Be?: Big Question. Little Book. Answer Within. (Hyperion, $14.95, 9781401323189/1401323189). She also appears today on the View.


Tomorrow night on Larry King Live: First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna discuss their new children's book, Read All About It! (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780061560750/0061560758).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Howard Fineman, author of The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring Debates That Define and Inspire Our Country (Random House, $25, 9781400065448/1400065445).


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

Books & Authors

Awards: Carnegie Medal Shortlist

Noting that the "1970s is as contemporary as it gets for the children's authors in contention for this year's Carnegie medal, the UK's oldest and most prestigious children's book award," the Guardian reported that the seven finalists cover "a range of settings from King Arthur's Court to apartheid-era South Africa, taking in the Crusades and a decidedly un-swinging 1960s boarding school along the way."

The Carnegie medal shortlist:
  • Crusade by Elizabeth Laird
  • Apache by Tanya Landeman
  • Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve
  • Ruby Red by Linzi Glass
  • Gatty's Tale by Kevin Crossley-Holland
  • What I Was by Meg Rosoff
  • Finding Violet Park by Jenny Valentine

The winner will be announced during a ceremony at the British Library on June 26.


Attainment: New Books Out Next Week

Selected titles appearing next week:

Life Beyond Measure: Letters to My Great-Granddaughter by Sidney Poitier (HarperOne, $25.95, 9780061496189/0061496189) recounts the actor's influential life and career.

A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father
by Augusten Burroughs (St. Martin's, $24.95, 9780312342029/0312342020) explores one particularly bad father-son relationship.

Boots on the Ground by Dusk: My Tribute to Pat Tillman
by Mary Tillman (Modern Times, $25.95, 9781594868801/1594868808) is the account by his mother of the former NFL player's controversial death by friendly fire in Afghanistan.

Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet (Little, Brown, $24.99, 9780316014779/031601477X) follows a lonely woman who is reunited with a childhood love.

The Lady Elizabeth: A Novel by Alison Weir (Ballantine, $25, 9780345495358/0345495357) chronicles the turbulent early life of Queen Elizabeth I.

Child 44
by Tom Rob Smith (Grand Central, $24.99, 9780446402385/0446402389) follows a former war hero who tries to find a serial killer in Stalinist Russia.

Hellboy Library Edition Volume 1: Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil by Mike Mignola and John Byrne (Dark Horse, $49.95, 9781593079109/1593079109) presents two complete stories in a hardcover version.

Days of Infamy by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen (Thomas Dunne Books, $27.95, 9780312363512/0312363516) chronicles the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Secret to True Happiness: Enjoy Today, Embrace Tomorrow by Joyce Meyer (FaithWords, $23.99, 9780446531993/0446531995) gives spiritual advice on happiness.

America's Hidden History: Untold Tales of the First Pilgrims, Fighting Women, and Forgotten Founders Who Shaped a Nation
by Kenneth C. Davis (Collins, $26.95, 9780061118180/0061118184) examines lesser known incidents in American history.

Now out in paperback:

The Devil Who Tamed Her by Johanna Lindsey (Pocket, $7.99, 9781416586814/1416586814).

The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel by Michael Chabon (Harper Perennial, $15.95, 9780007149834/0007149832).

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
by Barbara Kingsolver, Camille Kingsolver and Steven L. Hopp (Harper Perennial, $14.95, 9780060852566/0060852569).


Book Review

Book Review: McMafia

McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld by Misha Glenny (Alfred A. Knopf, $27.95 Hardcover, 9781400044115, April 2008)

Liberalization of international financial and commodity markets paved the way for globalization and all the associated benefits large corporations have been reaping of late. In his hair-raising book, Misha Glenny shows that liberalization and deregulation along with the collapse of the Eastern bloc Communist countries and the U.S.S.R. have led to some results that globalization advocates never anticipated. Yes, resources and manpower were released from old controls, and yes, vibrant new ambition has abounded. Yet Glenny's research indicates that in the turmoil of drastic economic and political reform a surprising amount of entrepreneurial energy has been channeled into criminal activities; in fact, a highly profitable "shadow economy" in illegal goods, operating parallel to the market in legal goods, is flourishing as never before. Note to policy-makers: a free market can all too easily go over to the dark side.

Glenny argues that when a country undergoes radical change and public trust in institutions is weak, as was the case in the Eastern bloc countries, among others, organized crime with its genius for corruption can exploit the situation to redirect resources for criminal purposes. In his long reporting career, he has seen more than enough examples of that, including widespread trafficking in drugs, arms, migrant labor and women kidnapped, imprisoned and forced to be sex workers around the world. Counterfeiting, car-jacking and money laundering are also thriving operations among the wily, opportunistic traders he interviewed. The problem is not a small one: he estimates that up to 20% of global income is generated in this shadow economy.

Glenny relates harrowing tales of damage wreaked in the absence of concerted efforts to control these criminal activities. Whether in Bulgaria, the Balkans, Russia, Transnistria, Ukraine, Moldavia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, India, Nigeria, South Africa, Colombia or Brazil, the misery, violence and the escalating wealth and power of gangsters he reports on are overwhelming. Confronted by this array of criminal activity, some readers may wish that Glenny had limited his scope; but, face it, we need to know every horrifying detail of what goes on in "free" (that is, uncontrolled) markets in order to comprehend the threat of this disturbing trend.

Glenny writes, "In the absence of the rule of law, corruption renders the distinctions between legitimate and criminal businesses opaque and sometimes completely obscure." I predict that every reader will finish this book knowing that is an understatement.--John McFarland


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