Shelf Awareness for Monday, May 19, 2008

Simon & Schuster: Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era by Jerry Mitchell

Sfi Readerlink Dist: Sesame Street: The Monster at the End of This Book: An Interactive Adventure by Jon Stone, adapted by Autumn B Heath

Minotaur Books: The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James

Tor Books: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

DK: Free Pack of The Wonders of Nature Wrapping Paper - Click to Sign Up!


Notes: FYI, PMA Now IBPA; Celebrating Nick Pekearo

Now 25 years old, PMA, formerly the Publishers Marketing Association, is adopting a new new name, to reflect "an expanded mission": IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Noting that the organization has grown to 4,000 members in its quarter century of existence, president Florrie Binford Kichler said, "Our new name truly reflects our mission, and the Independent Book Publishers Association is looking forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with independent publishers, offering support, education, and advocacy for the next 25 years and beyond."

To mark the occasion, IBPA is inviting all BEA attendees to a champagne and cake reception at the IBPA booth, #727, Saturday, May 31, at 4 p.m.


Tor Books invites people in the industry to "celebrate the life and talent of former New York City Auxiliary Police Officer Nicholas Pekearo," whose novel The Wolfman ($23.95, 9780765320261/0765320266) has just been published. The party will be held this Wednesday, May 21, 6-8 p.m., at Crawford Doyle Booksellers, 1082 Madison Ave., between 81st and 82nd Streets in New York City.

Pekearo, who worked at Crawford Doyle, was one of two auxiliary police officers who were murdered last year. His story was told recently in the New York Times.


In a Twin Cities Daily Planet piece headlined, "So, you wrote a book--now what?" veteran bookseller and publisher David Unowsky offered writers "a short primer on placing your book for sale in an independent bookstore and, after that, possibly scheduling an author event to spread the word to readers."

According to Unowsky, "The first thing to understand is this: bookstores are not public service organizations. They're in business to make a profit and, these days, they are having great trouble achieving that goal. . . . Now more than ever, bookstores are making decisions about what books they carry based on what they think readers will buy."

His advice, detailed and straightforward, included often overlooked subtleties like, "pick a different spot in the store to chat than where event took place so the bookstore staff can reassemble for the rest of the day's business. Don't forget to thank the audience. And thank the bookstore and staffpeople who set up the chairs and sold your books."

Booksellers worldwide say amen to that.


Employee health care coverage continues to be a challenge for all businesses. The Santa Cruz Sentinel covered a forum sponsored by the Health Improvement Partnership of Santa Cruz County. One of the four employers participating was Casey Coonerty Protti of Bookshop Santa Cruz, who said:

"Our health care costs rose 42 percent over the past two years. That's why our dental coverage dropped from 70 percent to 50 percent; vision coverage is now optional. We cover the first $500 of the deductible to encourage preventive care. We have 23 full-time equivalent employees; many work part-time. Employees are covered if they work 24 hours a week. Many work as servers to get high wages and work for us to get health care. Our coverage costs $75,000 a year. We are trading profits to have health care for employees."


Books & Beans opened last week in downtown Yankton, S.D., according to the Press & Dakotan, and owner Teresa Jacobson said she has begun living out her childhood dream. "My friends wanted to play 'school' or 'house,' but I always wanted to play 'library,' and I was the librarian. I would loan out my books to my friends--and, of course, I never got them back! I've always wanted to have a bookstore."


"Unless a miracle happens, we'll close at the end of June," Judy Christenson, co-owner with daughter Jen of Imagine That! Children's Bookstore, Riverside, Calif., told the Business Press. They have owned the bookshop since 2003, when they purchased it from Karen Rosenburg, who had run it since the mid-1970s.

"Times have really changed," Judy added. "When Karen started 30 years ago, there was nothing like it and there was no Internet and no big chains. Today we don't have the school business anymore because of the budget cuts and we can't make it on just walk-by traffic sales anymore."

"The concept of pleasure learning and reading isn't there anymore," said Jen. "These days, parents will buy their kids a $3.99 drink at a coffee shop but pass up a $3.99 book. It's truly a sad commentary on our society today. . . . We love books. If we won the lottery, we'd keep the store open just as a hobby."


"Don't judge this store by its cover," wrote in its coverage of a huge Barbara Walters author event at the 2,000-sq.-ft. Rakestraw Books, Danville, Calif.

"We do a lot of author events, but this is by far the biggest deal we've had here," said owner Michael Barnard. "I think we are able to land big names because we have a track record of having many great events."


The phrase "Donate Books" may seem straightforward enough, but Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam questioned its possibly deceptive usage by Robert Ticehurst, owner of Got Books Inc., concluding, "You might be forgiven for thinking that you are donating books to charity. You are not."

Although the company does "some" charity work, the "front page of its website hypes eight charity drives and uses the word 'nonprofit' eight times. Elsewhere on the site, you learn that GotBooks is a 'for profit used bookseller.'"

Ultimately the last word came from the attorney general's office, where spokeswoman Jill Butterworth, confirmed there "is nothing wrong with using the word 'donate' in connection with a for-profit marketing campaign."


Whatever happened to book clubs? The Economist explored the current state of book clubs internationally and concluded that "they are in for a radical overhaul at the very least--and some people think they are headed for extinction."

If there is hope, it exists in niche markets: "Two successful new clubs in recent years have been Bertelsmann's Black Expressions in America, aimed at black women, and Mosaico, a Spanish-language club."


"Running an independent bookstore in Moscow these days is a hard job." That's how Moscow News Weekly opened its article about Falanster bookshop, which, since it began in 2002, has "undergone numerous inspections to check books on its shelves for conformity with the law on extremism, pornography and drug enforcement."

Earlier this month, Falanster was subjected to "a police raid and confiscation of hard drives of its computers. This time round, the store was raked in connection with a criminal case against the banned National Bolshevik Party, and investigators were checking if the store carried any materials connected with the group."

The result? Investigators came up empty, but will be able to keep the computer equipment for a month.


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

BEA in L.A.: Picks of the Panels

This year BookExpo America hosts the first Graphic Novel Authors Breakfast, to be held Saturday, May 31, 8-9:30 a.m. in room 403A-B at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The breakfast features Master of Ceremonies Jeff Smith (Bone) and speakers Jeph Loeb (Heroes, The Ultimates), Mike Mignola (Hellboy) and Art Spiegelman (Maus and the forthcoming Breakdowns and Jack and the Box). Panelists will speak about "why comics have suddenly exploded in the mainstream book market and where they see the future of graphic novels."


In part because a record number of visitors from China and other Asian countries will attend BEA, the show is hosting a five-hour education seminar called Publishing in China--The Next Step that will "examine all aspects of the Chinese marketplace." Organized by BEA's new director of international affairs, Ruediger Wischenbart, the seminar is part of BEA's Global Market Forum, introduced last year. Co-sponsored by China Publishing Today, the program takes place Friday, May 30, 1-5:30 p.m., in Room 406B at the convention center.

The panels will be:

  • Chinese Reading: Success stories between China and the West. Books and issues that have opened the doors to the China publishing market.
  • Chinese Publishing: Mapping the market and extending the partnerships.
  • Chinese Retail: Bookshops, chain stores and imports and exports in China.

Speakers from China will include publisher Larry Lu Jinbo ("the brain behind the explosive growth of young adult fiction and many  innovative internet ventures") as well as representatives from trade house Changjiang Press Group (who launched Wolf Totem); Higher Education Press, China's largest trade and educational publisher; and China Youth International, which is about to set up offices in the U.S. American speakers will include people from Penguin, Wiley and Oxford University Press. Two U.S. booksellers will discuss their impressions of Beijing bookstores.

Editor's note: congratulations to Ruediger Wischenbart, who has long been involved in international book publishing and is a former chief press officer for the Frankfurt Book Fair.


KidsBuzz for the Week of 10.14.19

Image of the Day: Reggae Scrapbook Scrapbook

At an event a week ago this past weekend at Babylon Falling, a one-year-old store in Lower Nob Hill, San Francisco: Babylon Falling owner Sean Stewart flanked by Peter Simon and Roger Steffins, authors of The Reggae Scrapbook (Insight Editions/Palace Publishing Group). Photo: Shaun Roberts.


GLOW: St. Martin's Press: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Happy 10th Birthday to the Sly Fox

Happy early birthday to the Sly Fox bookstore, Virden, Ill., which turns 10 in July. Sly Fox is owned by George Rishel, a retired attorney who opened the store in the same building where he lives and where his great aunt and mother owned a women's clothing store from 1922 to 1991. Sly Fox specializes in children's books and mysteries and has what Rishel calls "a healthy offering of Illinois-related and Abraham Lincoln books." The 1,200-sq.-ft. store stocks more than 8,000 books.

Rishel said it has been "a struggle" to stay in business in Virden, a town of 3,500 that is 20 miles south of Springfield, where several major retailers and coal mines have closed in the past several years. But the store has kept on. A good sign: Sly Fox stayed open past midnight on the pub days of the last four Harry Potter books and sold 150 copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The store has a sly "tag line": "Traveling I-55 between Chicago and St. Louis? Consider a short detour to the Sly Fox bookstore in Virden, Illinois, 20 miles south of Springfield on Illinois Route 4 (Historic Route 66). The Sly Fox is the only open shop mystery bookstore in Downstate Illinois and the only mystery bookstore on one of the alignments of Historic Route 66."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Firewatching by Russ Thomas

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Fareed Zakaria's Post-American World

This morning on the Early Show: Kevin Nealon, author of Yes, You're Pregnant, But What About Me? (HarperEntertainment, $24.95, 9780061215209/0061215201). He will also appear tonight on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.


Today on NPR's the World: Simon Winchester, author of The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom (Harper, $27.95, 9780060884598/0060884592).


Today on Dr. Phil: Stella Saperstein, co-author of The Harmonious Child: Every Parent's Guide to Musical Instruments, Teachers, and Lessons (Celestial Arts, $12.95, 9781587611711/1587611716). The show focuses on William Joseph, one of the music teacher's former students, who is releasing a new album, Beyond.


Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Elissa Wall, author of Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs (Morrow, $25.95, 9780061628016/0061628018). She's also on Larry King Live tonight.

Also on Fresh Air: Jill Price, author of The Woman Who Can't Forget: The Extraordinary Story of Living with the Most Remarkable Memory Known to Science--A Memoir (Free Press, $26, 9781416561767/1416561765).


Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Fareed Zakaria, international editor of Newsweek and author of The Post-American World (Norton, $25.95, 9780393062359/039306235X).


Tonight on the Late Show with David Letterman: Senator Jim Webb, author of A Time to Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America (Broadway, $24.95, 9780767928359/0767928350).


Tomorrow on the Today Show: Al Roker, author of Al Roker's Big Bad Book of Barbecue: 100 Easy Recipes for Backyard Barbecue and Grilling (Scribner, $15.95, 9781416595380/1416595384).


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: former U.S. Representative Mickey Edwards, author of Reclaiming Conservatism: How a Great American Political Movement Got Lost--And How It Can Find Its Way Back (Oxford University Press, $21.95, 9780195335583/0195335589).


Tomorrow on the View: Nancy Snyderman, M.D., author of Medical Myths That Can Kill You: And the 101 Truths That Will Save, Extend, and Improve Your Life (Crown, $24.95, 9780307406132/030740613X).


Arcadia Publishing: Stock Your Shelves!

Books & Authors

Alan Walker's Literary Marathon

It's a classic year for Alan Walker, Penguin Group's senior director of academic and library marketing and sales: he's reading a Penguin Classics title for each letter of the alphabet (by author name), with the goal of finishing by December 31.

Walker's literary marathon began in January after editor Elda Rotor issued a call to her colleagues to make it their New Year's resolution to delve into a classic book they felt guilty for never having read. The idea grew out of a article in which several novelists named a classic they had neglected, including Margaret Atwood (Tolstoy's The Kreutzer Sonata), Myla Goldberg (Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse) and others.

Penguin Group employees rose to the challenge, selecting Anna Karenina, Middlemarch and other heavyweight tomes to start off 2008. Walker, though, is the only one who has opted to read classics from A-Z. "It was something I had been mulling over doing for a while," he said. When Walker reaches the end of the alphabet, he plans to begin again. "I'll definitely keep going," he said. "Once you do this you feel like you have to keep going back."

Walker is selecting books by author last name. He peruses the Penguin Classics annotated catalogue to find candidates, and he typically makes spur-of-the-moment choices. "The most fun part of this is picking the next book," he said. "There's something exciting about not having it too planned out."

Notable titles to date have been Robertson Davies' Fifth Business and Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun's semi-autobiographical novel, Hunger. "The book that really surprised me was Miles Franklin's My Brilliant Career about a fiery, independent girl growing up in the Australian bush," said Walker. "It's a beautifully written book, a quick and fun read."

The first time around Walker is focusing on books he has not yet read, particularly fiction. For his second go-round he's considering revisiting some titles, such as East of Eden, a favorite he read last when he was a teenager. He also has his eye on S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, which this time lost out to Hamsun's Hunger.

Walker's reading adventures are chronicled on, and he'll soon be moving on to the letter "I"--once he has decided between Elizabeth Inchbald's A Simple Story and Gilbert Imlay's The Emigrants.--Shannon McKenna Schmidt


Grove Press, Black Cat: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

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:


Wrack & Ruin by Don Lee (Norton, $23.95, 9780393062328/0393062325). "Even if you don't like Brussels sprouts, you will enjoy this lighthearted snapshot of three days with a dysfunctional cast of characters, as a sculptor-turned-farmer refuses to sell his land to a golf course developer. This quirky satire is done with great humor!"--Jeannie Logemann, MacDonald Book Shop, Estes Park, Colo.

Food 2.0: Secrets From the Chef Who Fed Google
by Charlie Ayers (DK Publishing, $25, 9780756633585/0756633583). "Food 2.0 is full of wonderful recipes, suggestions for improving the sustainability of your food choices, and many other great kitchen and shopping tips."--Amy Ellis, Front Street Books, Alpine, Tex.


After Hours at the Almost Home
by Tara Yellen (Unbridled, $14.95, 9781932961485/1932961488). "Tara Yellen's debut novel is a delicious character study. We've all been to the Almost Home bar, although it probably had a different name. Yellen has a remarkable ability to touch and identify our own character traits and to deliver them to us in this touching, sometimes uncomfortable, book. A vivid snapshot of today's celebrations and pathos. Highly recommended."--Nancy Simpson, The Book Vault, Oskaloosa, Iowa

Teen Readers

Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne (HarperTeen/Laura Geringer Books, $17.99, 9780061256271/0061256277). "A wonderful book for teens that deals not only with being different, but complex emotions and situations. A lesson in learning how much those around us affect our lives, and loving them before they are gone. I laughed, I cried, I will sell the daylights out of this book!"--Meaghan Leenaarts, Island Bookstore, Corolla, N.C.

[Many thanks to Book Sense and the ABA!]


Berkley Books: Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin

Book Review

Book Review: The Mule

The Mule by Juan Eslava Galan (Bantam, $12.00 Paperback, 9780553385083, February 2008)

Slipping quietly into bookstores without fanfare or promotion comes a delightful Spanish novel with all the charm of a heartwarming foreign film, which it's about to become.  

Corporal Juan Castro, in charge of the mules, marching on the side of the fascists in the Spanish Civil War, finds a lost mule in the fog that he names Valentina and adds to the military herd, hoping to take her home to his parents at the end of the fighting. Castro is the son of the groundskeeper of one of the richest men in Spain. Castro doesn't believe in reading books, can't imagine being anything more than a servant and has lost his best friend to the side of the Reds. He's a generous, well-meaning clod of the earth, and a likeable, down-to-earth hero who knows a lot about bird calls, hasn't heard of El Cid and never been in an elevator. When the battlefield erupts into gunfire and Valentina goes missing, Castro doesn't think twice about running across enemy lines to save her and launches the satirical plot into action.

This humane little comedy is packed with good-hearted moments. We're given enough glimpses of the war to know it's deadly serious, but we're given more instances of decent people remembering how to be decent. Besides, war isn't what the novel is about. The Mule is about lies--political lies, newspaper lies, military lies, romantic lies. Juan Castro starts out the story making a big fat blunder of a lie, but he's not the only one who isn't telling the truth. Neither is his best friend, Lieutenant Estrella, who writes Castro's romantic letters, nor is Concha, who has captured Castro's heart. Neither is Franco, who is about to become Spain's ruthless dictator, nor is Benavides, the terrified reporter sent to the front to get a story.

Except for the Nazi documentary film director, a broad caricature that's a bit too broad, the novel's humor is uniformly genuine, natural and good-natured. The bantering of the soldiers is occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, and when these tough guys cry and embrace their buddies fighting on the other side, the novel's heart becomes huge and transparent. Eslava Galan's style is straightforward and non-manipulative. He's strong and steady as a mule, with a good story to tell you that continues to surprise right up to the lump-in-your-throat ending.--Nick DiMartino


KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books:  Spies, Lies, and Disguise: The Daring Tricks and Deeds That Won World War II by Jennifer Swanson, illustrated by Kevin O'Malley
KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books: More Than a Princess by E.D. Baker
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