Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Simon & Schuster: Launch readers on their graphic novel reading adventure with Ready-to-Read Graphics!

Fireside Industries: Just a Few Miles South: Timeless Recipes from Our Favorite Places by Ouita Michel, illustrated by Brenna Flannery

Atria Books: Where the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey

Minotaur Books: The Madness of Crowds (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #17) by Louise Penny

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

Other Press: Disquiet by Zülfü Livaneli, translated by Brendan Freely


New Head of Random Comes from Bertelsmann Printing Unit

Bertelsmann is appointing the head of its worldwide printing operations to replace Peter Olson at Random House, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Markus Dohle, 39, who heads Arvato Print, one of Bertelsmann's most profitable units, is described as "entrepreneurial" and has helped Arvato expand into such unrelated businesses as repairing cell phones, storing pharmaceuticals and running call centers and billing systems, the paper said. Dohle has a degree in industrial engineering and economics from a German university and has no publishing experience.

Hartmut Ostrowski, who became Bertelsmann's CEO at the beginning of the year, headed Arvato for five years and has "vowed to shake up [Bertelsmann's] slow-growing businesses." In the past year, Random sales fell 6% and operating profit was down 5%. Random represented 10% of Bertelsmann's sales and operating profit last year.

Olson blamed the depressed numbers on a lack of megasellers last year. This year already looks brighter: Barbara Walters's memoir, Audition, has a million copies in print already and forthcoming titles include a new novel by Christopher Paolini and a biography of Warren Buffett.

Ostrowski has said that he wants other parts of Bertelsmann, including Random House, to diversify as Arvato did. According to the Journal, "an area of interest" for Random is educational services.



Britannica Books: Factopia!: Follow the Trail of 400 Facts by Kate Hale, illustrated by Andy Smith

Notes: Hastings Book Sales Rise; Davis-Kiddman?

Total revenues at Hastings Entertainment rose 3.1% to $131.9 million in the quarter ended April 30 while net income rose 20% to $3 million compared to $2.5 million in the same period in 2007.

Sales of books at stores open at least a year rose 5.6% in the quarter, outpacing movies and music and behind video games, electronics and consumables. Book sales rose primarily because of "increased sales of new trade paperback books, as well as strong sales of used hardback and trade paperback books." New Earth by Eckhart Tolle and The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch sold especially well.

Hastings has 153 stores, most in small- and medium-sized markets.


The Daily Mail ran a photo of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban leaving Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Nashville, Tenn., with a Davis-Kidd bag prominently featured. According to the London paper's intrepid reporters, while in the store Kidman, who is seven months pregnant, checked out the "Week 30" chapter of Your Pregnancy Week by Week by Dr. Glade Curtis and Judith Schuler (Da Capo Press) while Urban delved into Pocket Dad: Everyday Wisdom, Practical Tips, and Fatherly Advice by Dina Fayer (Quirk Books).


Three private equity groups have expressed interest in buying Borders's Paperchase subsidiary, the Financial Times reported. The paper speculated that W.H. Smith and HMV, which runs Waterstone's, may be interested as well.


"Tough times for local booksellers" was the headline of a MetroWest Daily News article exploring used bookstores in this region of eastern Massachusetts. A video tour of some of the shops was also included.

"People can get rid of old furniture or clothes. But books are more personal, harder to throw away. I think people's spirits stay in their books," said Nancy Haines, co-owner of Vintage Books, Hopkinton, who also cautioned, "People don't browse as much as they used to. We compete for people's time. College kids are not into reading. We're not seeing a new generation of collectors."

Ted Seager, owner of Village Books, Medway, said, "A lot of people don't know what stores like mine offer until they find a book they had when they were kids or some out-of-print title from the 1940s. I hear them go 'Ohhhhh' and that makes my day."

Alex Green, owner of Back Pages Books, Waltham, which sells new and used books, thinks "the potential for (local bookstores) will grow every single year."

Betty Ann Sharp, who owns Bearly Read Books, Sudbury, would "like to see more people collecting books. They purchase sports memorabilia but what do you learn from that? A book is more than pages covered with words. It can be a work of art. No animal of earth can record its thoughts so they can be shared 2,000 years later. Books are what make us human."

And Jean Wallick, co-owner of the Shire Book, Franklin, said, "I think people like the smell of books. They can hold memories and leave a wonderful impression. With the Internet and TV entertaining so many people, we tend to see the ones who read. Sometimes I see a parent reading to a child in their lap, already stimulating their imagination. Maybe that child is beginning to share a vision with its parent. It's very beautiful to see."


Ranked 17th on AOL Money & Finance's list of "Top 25 Things We Wish Would Make a Comeback" was new "New Potter books." Blogger Bruce Watson wrote, "Although I'd gladly buy Harry Potter and the Thinning Hair or even Harry Potter and the Vaguely Disconcerting Polyps, I know that anything beyond this point will definitely be jumping the shark. For better or worse, Harry Potter is finished as a primary character; his story is done. On the other hand, I still have some hope for his kids, particularly Albus Severus Potter."


Also making news in the world of HP was Michael Rosen, Children's Laureate and author of We're Going on a Bear Hunt, who told the Times that he is not a big fan of the Potter books. He finds them "boring and inappropriate for young readers" and would not read them to his own children.

"They don't grab me personally," he said. "I am distant from them whereas I read some kids' books and I get quite drawn in emotionally to them. Whereas authors like Enid Blyton are hand-holding narrators who lead children into safe environments, J. K. Rowling is more of an adult writer in that she leaves you hanging in the air at the end of chapters with no idea what is going to happen next."


Stop us if you've heard this one before, but the Wall Street Journal's L. Gordon Crovitz, inspired by an "In Stock" notice for Amazon's sometimes elusive Kindle reading device, explored "the digital future of books."

His verdict? The jury is still out.

--- has begun a new program with the International Thriller Writers, in which each month ITW authors recommend audio editions of thrillers. Called Breakout Thrillers, the program begins this month with three authors and recommendations:

  • Janet Evanovich, who chose Dead Ex by Harley Jane Kozak
  • Tess Gerristen, who recommended Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger
  • Steve Berry, who preferred The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose

Audible and ITW earlier collaborated on The Chopin Manuscript, an original serialized novel that was nominated for two Audie Awards.


Pantheon Books: Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin

BEA in L.A.: Picks of the Panels

The Caravan Project: Good Books Any Way You Want Them Now, Friday, May 30, 1-2 p.m., Room 406A. An overview of this nonprofit program involving publishers, wholesalers and booksellers that has published books in multiple formats, including e-books, downloadable audio, print-on-demand and large print. The moderator is Peter Osnos, founder and editor-at-large at PublicAffairs and director of the Caravan Project. Panelists are John Ingram, chairman of Ingram Content Companies; Steve Potash, CEO of Overdrive; and Tom Hallock, associate publisher of Beacon Press. Chris Morrow, general manager of Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt., will make a presentation.


The New American Character, Friday, May 30, 10-11 a.m., Room 406A. Pollster John Zogby will discuss a survey of book buyers conducted by Zogby International in partnership with Random House, released for the first time here. The interactive poll of books buyers sought "to determine how, why and where they purchase and read books" and garnered 8,200 responses. Zogby will put his findings into context and provide marketing information that booksellers and publishers can use.

Zogby, whose new book, The Way We'll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream, will be published August 12 by Random House, said that the survey results highlight "the similarities--and differences--between men and women, young and old, and across the income spectrum."


The Book Industry Study Group is sponsoring several panels at BEA:

  • A Preview of BISG's Book Industry Trends 2008, Friday, May 30, 1-2 p.m., Room 404B. Information from the annual publication that contains all kinds of data about the book business.
  • Environmental Trends: Where Does the U.S. Book Industry Stand Today?, on Friday, May 30, 9:30-10:30 a.m., Room 402B. BISG is participating in this session, sponsored by Green Press Initiative, which will discuss data from the new study, Environmental Trends and Climate Impacts: Findings from the U.S. Book Industry, co-published by BISG and GPI.
  • Digital Books and the Standards for Identifying, Describing, and Trading Them, Thursday, May 29, 1:30-2:30 p.m., Room 406B. All about standards for identifying and describing digital publications and for searching and retrieving book content online.
  • Raising the Standard of Product Information: BISG's New Product Data Certification Program for Publishers, Booksellers, and Distributors will be held Thursday, May 29, 10-11 a.m. in Room 406B. This provides a good introduction to BISG's program that helps business partners send and receive information electronically about orders and shipments that is accurate and complies with industry standards, all of which leads to cost savings and higher efficiency.
  • Bridging the Gap between Publishers and Libraries: Standards to Help Manage Licenses, on Saturday, May 31, 10:30-11:30 a.m., Room 402B. All about librarians' use of publisher content digitally and attendant rights and licenses.


Strategies for New Publicity Opportunities in an Expanding Media Universe, Thursday, May 20, 2:30-3:30 p.m. Panelists from across the industry discuss book promotion in an age when the Internet has opened many new possibilities. Moderator is Jerome Kramer, industry consultant. Panelists are Cindy Dach, general manager of Changing Hands bookstore, Tempe, Ariz.; Ron Hogan, founder of Beatrice and lead writer of GalleyCat; Matt Baldacci, director of marketing at St. Martin's; John Pitts, v-p and marketing director, Doubleday; and Ami Greko, marketing director of Folio Literary Management.


GLOW: Chicken Soup for the Soul: I'm Speaking Now: Black Women Share Their Truth in 101 Stories of Love, Courage and Hope by Amy Newmark and Breena Clarke

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Buffett on Letterman

Today on Fresh Air: Senator Jim Webb, author of A Time to Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America (Broadway, $24.95, 9780767928359/0767928350).


Tomorrow morning's Book Report, the weekly AM radio book-related show organized by Windows a bookshop, Monroe, La., features an interview with Howard Bahr, author of Pelican Road (Macadam Cage, $25, 9781596922891/1596922893).
The show airs at 8 a.m. Central Time and can be heard live at; the archived edition will be posted tomorrow afternoon.


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Alexandra Fuller, author of The Legend of Colton H. Bryant (Penguin Press, $23.95, 9781594201837/1594201838).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Arianna Huffington, author of Right Is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe (Knopf, $24.95, 9780307269669/0307269663).


Tomorrow night on Larry King Live: Jesse Ventura, former wrestler and Governor of Minnesota whose new book with Dick Russell is Don't Start the Revolution Without Me! (Skyhorse Publishing, $24.95, 9781602392731/1602392730).


Tomorrow night on the Late Show with David Letterman: Jimmy Buffett, author of Swine Not?: A Novel (Little, Brown, $21.99, 9780316114028/0316114022).


G.P. Putnam's Sons: When We Were Young by Richard Roper

Books & Authors

Awards: Commonwealth Prize

Canadian author Lawrence Hill won the £10,000 ($19,600) Commonwealth Writers' Overall Best Book award for The Book of Negroes, "a novel about a West African girl sold into slavery in 18th-century South Carolina who eventually returns home," Bloomberg reported.

The book has been published in the U.S. by Norton under the title Someone Knows My Name.

Tahmima Anam of Bangladesh won the £5,000 Overall Best First Book prize for A Golden Age, "a fictionalized account of her country's war for independence in 1971."


Soho Teen: Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil

Novel Destinations: Emily Dickinson Museum

The following is the second of several excerpts Shelf Awareness is running from Novel Destinations: Literary Landmarks from Jane Austen's Bath to Ernest Hemingway's Key West by Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon (National Geographic, 9781426203664), which is officially on sale today. Click here for information about the book, which includes a foreword by Matthew Pearl, and to visit the authors' literary travel blog, go to Shannon is a contributing writer to Shelf Awareness.

Massachusetts lays claim to being the state with the most author houses, and this week our literary travels take us to Amherst to explore the Emily Dickinson Museum.    

Emily Dickinson Museum
The Homestead and the Evergreens
Amherst, Mass.

No doubt the famously reclusive poet--who lived much of her life confined to her bedroom in the 200-year-old brick manse known as the Homestead--would have been chagrined at the prospect of curious onlookers traipsing through her former sanctuary. But today the national historic landmark where she was born into a prosperous New England family draws inquisitive literary pilgrims from around the globe, many searching for insight into Dickinson's obsessively private inner world. Born at the Homestead on December 10, 1830, Dickinson never married and went on to spend all but 15 of her 55 years at the house, secretly penning verse that she sewed together in hand-bound volumes discovered by her sister posthumously. For unknown reasons, Dickinson chose to publish only seven works from her large oeuvre of some 1,800 untitled poems during her lifetime.

Connected to the Homestead by a path Dickinson described as "just wide enough for two who love" is the Evergreens, an Italianate-style house built for her beloved brother and his wife in 1856. Unlike the Homestead, which passed into new hands in the early 20th century, the Evergreens was occupied by Dickinson family heirs for a century and remains largely unchanged from the house the poet herself knew. Recently, the two historic dwellings merged under ownership of Amherst College to form the Emily Dickinson Museum, which offers two different guided house tours daily.

During Dickinson's time, the family owned 14 acres surrounding the properties and the flower-loving poet could often be spotted tending the gardens attired in her signature white dress. (A replica is on display at the Homestead.) The reclusive poet often sent flowers to accompany her missives and at least a third of her poems feature floral references. Today, visitors can stroll the grounds surrounding the museum with an accompanying audio tour that integrates Dickinson's poetry with the landscape that inspired her.

Reprinted with permission of the National Geographic Society from the book
Novel Destinations: Literary Landmarks from Jane Austen's Bath to Ernest Hemingway's Key West, by Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon. Copyright © 2008 Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon.


Hampton Roads Publishing Company: The Shaman's Book of Living and Dying by Alberto Villoldo and Anne O'Neill

Book Review

Book Review: A Voyage Long and Strange

A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World by Tony Horwitz (Henry Holt & Company, $27.50 Hardcover, 9780805076035, April 2008)

A recent survey reports that one in four American teenagers believes Columbus sailed to the New World after 1750. Perhaps an antidote to this monumental level of ignorance is Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Horwitz's thoroughly engaging historical travelogue through the almost 150 years of exploration that predated the Pilgrims' arrival at Plymouth Rock.
Confessing he'd "mislaid an entire century," Horwitz embarked on an odyssey that consumed three years and thousands of miles of travel across North America and the Caribbean as he sought to recapture the rich and colorful history that's been reduced to a handful of bullet points on a PowerPoint slide: Columbus, Pocahontas, the Mayflower. Along the way he encounters an array of fascinating characters--descendants of Native American tribes, historians (amateur and professional), some working to the point of obsession to document this country's past, and colorful originals like the conquistador reenactors in Bradenton, Fla., or Caonabo, his cynical guide on a wild ride through the back country of the Dominican Republic.
Horwitz is an enlightened Everyman, steeped in exhaustive research and yet willing to ask naive questions while not afraid of appearing foolish or out of sorts. The accounts of his near meltdowns in a Micmac Indian "sweat" in Newfoundland and in the heat of Santo Domingo as he waits in vain for a glimpse of the remains of Christopher Columbus are gems of self-deprecating humor.
At the heart of the book lie tales of the early explorers who traversed our country--in the case of Coronado in the early 1540s, deep into present-day Kansas--chasing spectral stories of "cities of gold" and enduring unspeakable privations in these almost delusional quests. Skilled journalist that he is, Horwitz is sparing in his judgments, slipping only occasionally as when he refers to Hernando de Soto, whose footsteps he traces over 3,000 miles of the Southeastern United States, as "this monstrous man." Instead, he provides engrossing accounts of the encounters among explorers, settlers and the native population, leaving us to reach our own conclusions about whether the first European inhabitants of the continent should be venerated or reviled.
Horwitz began his journey hoping to supplant our mythic understanding of American history with painstakingly revealed fact. And yet, at the end of his personal "voyage long and strange," he peers wistfully down at Plymouth Rock, convinced that "myth remained intact, as stubbornly embedded as the lump of granite in the pit before me." If that's the case, it's not for want of his efforts in this intellectually stimulating and consistently entertaining book.--Harvey Freedenberg



No Error, No Cry

Yesterday in a caption for a photo of Peter Simon and Roger Steffins, we misspelled the title of their book, The Reggae Scrapbook (Insight Editions/Palace Publishing Group). We thank Dani McGrath of the History Press who noticed the error and added, "It's a great book. And it has a bonus--a DVD of interviews of Peter Tosh and others. It's a book that just keeps giving and giving."



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