Shelf Awareness for Friday, May 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: Online Catalogue Conversation; Paperchase for Sale?

Spurred in part by HarperCollins's announcement that it will launch a beta version of an online catalogue in the next six to 12 months, the ABA's Booksellers Advisory Council will discuss publisher e-catalogues during its meeting at BEA, Bookselling This Week reported. Many booksellers support the environmental advantages of e-catalogues but want to be sure that the catalogues have features that make them as useful as possible. "We will address the issue, and glean bookseller feedback," ABA COO Oren Teicher said. ABA will then share bookseller "thoughts and concerns with interested publishers."

HarperCollins president of sales Josh Marwell told BTW that the online catalogue is a work in progress and that he wants feedback from booksellers. "I understand that it's important to booksellers that they're able to annotate the catalog electronically and make lists for future reference, as well as to forward information to other booksellers in the store. We'll have to understand how customers are using and processing information in the printed format to create a useful state-of-the-art tool online."


Bookselling This Week profiles Metropolis Books, which opened in late 2006 in downtown Los Angeles, Calif., as art of the Historic Downtown L.A. Retail Project, which has helped turn around the former Skid Row neighborhood. The owners are Julie Swayze and Steven Bowie, who are husband and wife.

The 900-sq.-ft. store stocks 4,500 titles, specializes in books about historic L.A. and architecture and has strong classics and bestseller sections. The store has several signings a month and participates in Downtown L.A.'s monthly Art Walk.


Without indicating the source of its information, the Daily Telegraph in London said that Borders Group has hired bankers to "consider options for its U.K. Paperchase chain, which could include sale," Bloomberg reported. Borders has sold all but a minority interest in its U.K. bookstores. Paperchase was not included in the original list of company assets to be offered for sale last year.

Paperchase has 114 stores and concessions and could sell for as much as 50 million pounds ($97.4 million), the paper added.


Happy birthday to Studs Terkel, who turns 96 today! He continues to go strong: this fall with the New Press he'll publish a new collection, P.S.: Further Thoughts from a Lifetime of Listening, and the paperback edition of his 2007 memoir, Touch & Go. In addition, he's soon releasing an educational DVD, Rocking the Boat: Studs Terkel's 20th Century, which looks at the social progress achieved during the last century and how it was achieved, as experienced by Terkel and nearly a dozen of his contemporaries. Check out the trailer here.


Bill Ackman/Pershing Square Capital Management Bookstore Stock Ownership Scorecard:

Barnes & Noble: $200.4 million
Borders Group: $62.1 million

Source: SEC 13-F filing, dollar value of shares owned.

P.S. Now we understand better the strategic value of the many purchases of B&N stock by chairman Len Riggio in the past year.


"I was at a bar with some booksellers, engaging in drunken bookseller gossip over expensive whiskies and cheap beer . . ."

You have to like that opening to a recent Constant Reader column in The Stranger, where Paul Constant reviewed a new Young Adult book by Cory Doctorow (in anticipation of upcoming readings by the author at Seattle's Elliott Bay Book Company and Ravenna Third Place Books) and reluctantly conceded that he might have been overdoing it with a prior statement--"I don't read young-adult fiction."--that got him in trouble.


All For Kids Books & Music, Seattle, Wash., is scheduled to close in late June, but the Post-Intelligencer asked, "What will happen to The Room?"

The Room?

"Every surface inside the store's events and reading room--the door, the walls, the ceiling---has been transformed into a rich literary canvas. A Who's Who of children's authors and illustrators have dropped by and signed their names or drawn pictures or left behind pithy sayings encouraging young people to maintain a love of books--no small feat in this age of electronic doodads."

Owner Chauni Haslet admitted that "the future of these walls is unknown."



Flame Tree Publishing: Detective Mysteries Short Stories by Various Authors

Single Development Seeking Independent Bookseller

Here's an unusual pitch: a major suburban commercial developer is seeking an independent bookseller to be part of the mix in one of its new projects.

The real estate corporation Edens & Avant is developing a mixed-use space in Fairfax County, Va., near Washington, D.C., that's designed to emulate an urban neighborhood. Named the Mosaic District, it will be comprised of individual buildings created on a grid with shops at street level and upper portions devoted to residential and corporate use. Edens & Avant is seeking an independent bookstore to join its roster of retailers.  

"We want to make it feel more like a great urban shopping street and less of a mall type environment," said Jessica Bruner, director of retail leasing. Although there will be some national retailers, regional and local purveyors will make up a significant portion of the stores, separating it in substance and style from Tysons Corner Center, one of the largest shopping malls in the country located a few miles away in McLean, Va.

The privately-held Edens & Avant has built 130 shopping centers in the Northeast, traditionally anchored by brand-named merchants. "We always try to put together the best merchandising mix for the project we're developing," said Bruner. "For the Mosaic District we'd like to go in a different direction and bring in more urban concepts and more unique retailers. We feel strongly about having a local bookstore that brings in local crowds and gives it a different bent."

Consumer spending power in Fairfax County should support the endeavor: Forbes reported earlier this year that it's the richest county in the U.S. "This area of northern Virginia, based on its wealth and education, is really missing a niche bookstore," said Bruner, "We love working with Barnes & Noble and have other deals with them, but for this project specifically we'd like to have an independent."

Along with 600,000 square feet of retail space, the Mosaic District will feature restaurants, a movie theater and other entertainment venues, parks and other community space, and a hotel. "Different spots will be active at different times so it will really feel like a city grid," said Bruner. A full-time marketing person will coordinate events in the Mosaic District, including jazz and movie nights in the park, a farmers market and fashion shows. The location and size of the bookstore space is flexible, noted Bruner, although she envisions it along one of the parks so that a newsstand can also be operated. Either a brand-new store or an outpost of an existing business would be considered.

Edens & Avant expects to break ground on the Mosaic District this fall, and development will take place over a three-year period. Will an independent bookstore be among its shop fronts? Bruner hopes so. Local and independent retailers "are keys to our project and establishing our identity," she said.--Shannon McKenna Schmidt

Jessica Bruner can be contacted at and Bryce Baschuk at


BINC - Double Your Impact

Cool Idea of the Day: 'Awesome Literary Mix CD'

The latest endcap display at the Booksmith, San Francisco, Calif., is called "My Awesome Literary Mix CD." Created by bookseller Martha Pettit, the display highlights songs with literary connections, 18 in total. Among the pairings, for example: the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood" and Norwegian Wood by Hakuri Murakami; "Myla Goldberg" by the Decemberists and Bee Season by Myla Goldberg; and "Girlfriend in a Coma" by the Smiths and Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland. Booksmith co-owner Christin Evans wrote about the display in her blog.




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

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Blue Balliett Today on Today

This morning on the Today Show: Blue Balliett, author of The Calder Game (Scholastic, $17.99, 9780439852074/0439852072). Balliett's Chasing Vermeer was Al Roker's ninth pick for the Today Show Book Club for Kids.


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

Books & Authors

Awards: Patterson Pageturners; Samuel Johnson Prize

Congratulations to the many winners of the James Patterson Pageturner Awards, "intended to celebrate the people, companies, schools and other institutions who find original and effective ways to spread the excitement of books and reading." The total prize money is $250,000.

Winners include Literacy Partners; First Book Marketplace; John Freeman, president of the National Book Critics Circle; One More Story; Books to Prisoners; Ann Kent of Book Group Expo; Small Press Distribution; Pushcart Press; and Reader Girlz.

Murder by the Book, Houston, Tex., won $2,500. Assistant manager David Thompson, founder of Busted Flush Press, told Bookselling This Week he thought the store had won because "we pride ourselves on our knowledge of the stock . . . and helpful and passionate employees. It is our goal with each sale to share our excitement for books--mysteries and thrillers, of course!--and to give people a reason to support independent booksellers and local businesses. We try to make it fun and we hope our passion is contagious."


Look for the "authorised but markedly unsanitised" V.S. Naipaul bio to be leading at the finish line. The shortlist for "the world's richest non-fiction book prize," the £30,000 (US$58,174) BBC 4 Samuel Johnson prize, has been announced, according to the Guardian, which also helpfully supplied current bookmakers' odds for the finalists:

5/2--The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V.S Naipaul by Patrick French
3/1--The Suspicions of Mr Whicher or the Murder at Road Hill House by Kate Summerscale
4/1--Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart by Tim Butcher
4/1--The Whisperers by Orlando Figes
5/1--Crow Country by Mark Cocker
6/1--The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross


Shelf Sample: Fidelity

Thomas Perry never disappoints. Starting with the brilliant The Butcher's Boy and Metzger's Dog, he's written 15 keepers, including five in his Jane Whitfield series. With Fidelity (Otto Penzler/Harcourt, 9780151012923/015101292X, $25, May 12, 2008), his 16th book, he continues his string of winners. One of Perry's strengths is his depiction of evil, especially the socio-psychopathic type. He has the ability to portray bad people in an empathetic way--you find yourself pulled into immoral or amoral minds and you not only see their point, you agree with it. The serial killer in Nightlife kills her husband because he didn't give her what she wanted to be happy, and you find yourself saying, "Well, sure. I get it." In Fidelity, the hired killer, Hobart, seems so reasonable (unlike his employer, whose rationalizations make you shudder), that you say again, "Well, sure." Here he thinks about the partner he just killed:

"He was feeling better today than he had for months. He had gotten sick of Tim Whiteley's meaningless chatter and needed to put an end to it . . . Hobart was aware that he couldn't expect every person he met to be what he was. But he could expect them to carry their own weight and find ways to encourage and comfort themselves without making excessive demands on Jared Hobart. A man you were traveling with should be able to limit the amount of attention he needed to divert from the task at hand. He should be able to refrain from whining. He should be able to do what babies learned to do, which was to put themselves to sleep without talking long into the night to work their brains into exhaustion."--Marilyn Dahl


Book Brahmins: Matthew Sharpe

Matthew Sharpe is the author of The Sleeping Father, Nothing Is Terrible and Stories from the Tube. His most recent novel, Jamestown, is a May Harvest Paperback pubication. He has taught at Wesleyan and Columbia Universities and in the MFA program at Bard College. His work has appeared in Harper's, Zoetrope, BOMB, McSweeney's, Southwest Review and elsewhere. He lives in New York City. Here he answers a few of our usual tough questions:


On your nightstand now:

Oh, now I'm supposed to have a "nightstand?" What do I look like, a millionaire? A book I am very happy to have, though, on my person at this time is Ghost Girl, poems by Amy Gerstler.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Death on the Installment Plan
by Louis Ferdinand Céline.

Your top five authors:

The dreaded "top five" question. Can't do it. But Peter Roget has been a great help and hindrance. Nineteenth-century English physician, cut his teeth on the Enlightenment and used them to chew the universe into bite-sized bits. Open one of his thesauruses to the front and there they are: hot, cold; male, female; you, me; sky, sea: lies on whose back the world is built.

Book you've bought for the cover:

A Burning Interior
by David Shapiro. The inside, too, as promised, is hot.
Book that changed your life:

How to Turn Unbearable Pain into Extra Income by Zohar Schmelding.

Favorite line from a book:

Among the top five I've read today, from Henry James' The Bostonians:

"Don't you care for human progress?"
"I don't know--I never saw any."


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Authors in Conversation with Their Readers

Pop quiz, three questions, all of them about book groups. Please e-mail me your answers. I'll be grading on a curve.

  1. How important are book groups to the publishing world now?
  2. Why don't more men join book groups?
  3. What is the most innovative or unusual book group you've seen?

By "you" I mean anyone living and/or working in the book universe, including publishers, booksellers, writers, librarians, and, of course, active book group members.

"You" know who you are.

For the next couple of weeks, we'll have a conversation about book groups, a conversation that officially began quite recently after I read an essay by Joshua Henkin, author of Matrimony (Pantheon, $23.95, 9780375424359/0375424350). To get this started, I invite you to leave the room and read his guest post last month at Books on the Brain. Don't worry, I'll wait for you . . .

Welcome back.

I was particularly intrigued by the passage in which he states that when his novel was published, he "never would have imagined that, seven months later, I'd have participated in approximately forty book group discussions (some in person, some by phone, some online), with fifteen more scheduled in the months ahead."

We know this is happening, but when I read "given the choice between giving a public reading and visiting a book group, I would, without hesitation, choose the latter," I had to find out more.

This has led to our new conversation. Henkin told me about a book group event he attended earlier this week: "I drove two hours each way to meet with a group of twelve or so women. The woman who runs it, Julie Peterson, is a stay-at-home-mom who started blogging four months ago, and is now getting increased traffic. The publishers are catching on because she tells me she's now getting sent about 25 books a week. This is a woman who reads more than I do. She says she reads 3-4 hours a day, and I believe she has read 93 books this year so far, or some such figure."

Julie reported on the meeting at her blog, Booking Mama.

Writers talking to readers.

For authors willing to start such a conversation with their readers, book group appearances offer a seemingly perfect strategy for drawing people's attention away momentarily from all those titles that everyone is supposed to read and discuss--The Kite Runner or Eat, Pray, Love or, well, you know.

Great handsellers have always known about the power of conversation. If booksellers can do it for less-publicized titles, why can't the authors?  

You'll hear no argument from Henkin, who is concerned about the diminishing options for getting new books noticed and views book group appearances as a great alternative: "I think word of mouth is a very important thing, and I'm not saying that I think people should choose books for their book club that absolutely no one's heard of, nor, even if I wanted that, do I think I'd have a chance of convincing anybody of this. What I'm concerned about is that the avenues for word of mouth are becoming narrower and narrower such that everyone hears of the same few books."

I ask whether he thinks those of us who toil in the word biz fields can sometimes get a little jaded about the "reading public." Do book group appearances offer surprises?

"It's less a question of specific surprises (every book group is different, so there are always surprises of one sort or another) than that by visiting book groups, I end up seeing a much larger cross-section of the reading public than most people in the word biz (and I include myself in that category) generally see. There's a lot of legitimate concern about the decline of reading, but book groups are cushioning some of the blow, in that they're leading people to read who otherwise wouldn't.

"Although it's not true of everyone, there are certainly a sizable number of people in book groups who wouldn't be reading were it not for the book group. They join the group for social reasons, but because the group is reading and discussing a book, they end up reading it, too. These are people who are not going to bookstores all that often, and they certainly aren't attending public readings. So I think through book groups one can reach beyond the usual channels."

More from Joshua Henkin next week. And don't forget your pop quiz.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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