Shelf Awareness for Monday, June 16, 2008

Yen Press: Diary (Berrybrook Middle School #4) by Svetlana Chmakova

Shadow Mountain: Paul, Big, and Small by David Glen Robb

Amulet Books: Village of Scoundrels by Margi Preus

Flatiron Books: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Canongate Books: The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry and The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry

Quotation of the Day

Progressive Book Club: In the Nick of Time?

"One might say the entire book industry is largely a progressive book group."--David Rosenthal, publisher of Simon & Schuster, quoted in a New York Times story today about the founding of the Progressive Book Club, which will operate like traditional book clubs but also make offerings electronically, have a social networking section on its site and help members form book discussion groups.


Berkley Books: Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes by Kathleen West


Notes: Saving Library Books from the Floods

Saving books from rising floodwaters became a labor of love, speed, and efficiency for bibliophiles last week. The Des Moines Register reported that there was a "snaking line going up the steps of the Main Library at the University of Iowa on the banks of the flooding Iowa River. Hand over hand; all man's ideas were handed. Philosophy and theatre, science and religion. Books rising from the basement to a higher level."

Librarians had been moving manuscripts and theses out of the basement all week, but they asked for help when it became clear that the river was going to rise higher than anticipated

"All of the sudden, 'whoosh' all these people showed up," said Nancy Baker, university librarian. "This is where it shows up for people, library books. They are very powerful for people. Many things can be replaced but not some of these books."


OutLoud Bookstore, Nashville, Tenn., has been put up for sale by co-owners Ted Jensen and Kevin Medley, according to Out & About.

"Kevin and I are both having significant health problems now that are preventing us from continuing to operate the store," Jensen said. "We hope that we can find a person or group, such as a community co-op, who could continue and grow what we have started."


New York State has asked to combine its lawsuit with's, according to the Albany Business Review. Both companies are challenging New York's law requiring them to collect sales tax on purchases made to people in New York.


The Wall Street Journal surveys the ups and downs of three recent books by entrepreneurs, two of which are familiar to booksellers who attended the last ABA Winter Institute: Stirring It Up by Gary Hirshberg, head of Stonyfield Farm, and Setting the Table by New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer. Both authors have taken to the lecture circuit and bolstered sales that way. Meyer's book is now in paperback with 90,000 copies in print after 14 printings. He said the title has helped raise the profile of his already well-known group of restaurants, setting the table for increased business.

Stirring It Up has 37,000 copies in print but Nielsen BookScan sales of only 4,000. Hirshberg said that he has sold at least 4,000 on tour. The book may benefit from a title change when the paperback is released next April: reflecting current trends, the book will be redubbed Green Your Business: How to Turn Conventional Wisdom on Its Head, Make Money, and Save the World.


"Bookstores near great bodies of water" were polled by the Contra Costa Times "to discover what the hottest books are for the hot weather." Among the bookshops making beach read recommendations were Kona Stories, Kainaliu, Hawaii; Laguna Beach Books, Laguna Beach, Calif.; Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif.; Gallery Bookshop & Bookwinkle's Children's Books, Mendocino, Calif.; Griffin Bay Bookstore, Friday Harbor, Wash.; Maine Coast Bookshop and Café, Damariscotta, Maine; Nantucket Bookworks, Nantucket, Mass.; and Books & Books, Miami Beach, Fla.


"A phenomenon of daytime telly has killed the literary snob. And about time, too," suggested the Times in an article about the Richard & Judy Book Club's new summer reading list and the dynamic book duo's impact upon U.K. readers and publishers.

The R&J Book Club "accounts for 26% of the sales of the top 100 books in the U.K., and Amanda Ross, the club's creator and book selector, is the most powerful player in British publishing," the Times wrote.

Concerning literary versus commercial fiction, Ross said, "I don't know what 'literary' means. I got really slagged off for that. But you shouldn't be made to feel you have to be a certain type of person, with a certain level of education, to read a certain type of book. We have inspired people to read different kinds of books, and the sole criterion is that they are enjoyable.”


The only known copy of the first phone book and Copernicus' On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres (printed in 1543) are among the 300-plus books to be auctioned Tuesday by Christie's in New York, according to the Associated Press. The Copernicus volume is expected to fetch the highest price, between $900,000 and $1.2 million.


What would William Boyd read in Los Angeles? Julian Barnes in Sicily? Dave Eggers in Chicago? David Mitchell in Japan? Caryl Phillips in the Caribbean? These and other authors recommend "perfect literary travelling companions" for your summer holiday in the Guardian.


Once you have a book, a chair and a light, you're ready to attempt an exercise that may seem increasingly archaic to some. But Variety offered help for 21st century neophytes with an instruction manual, "How to Read a Book," by Twentieth Century Fox acquisitions executive Tony Safford.


Captain Kirk engages warp drive. The Dallas Morning News expressed awe at Up Till Now author William Shatner's ability to sign "an astounding 260 books in 25 minutes, leaving the assembled publicists slack-jawed" at BookExpo in Los Angeles.


Tired of just reading them? The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel offered "ways to display and decorate with books," including:

  • Books as wallpaper: Invest in a large number of leather-bound books in the same shade to create a wall of color.
  • A spot of color: Have a monotone room? Pick out a few books in a striking color to add dimension.
  • Books as furniture: Use a book, or a stack of books, to create end tables, coffee tables and pedestals.
  • Augment with books: Try hanging books over the rungs of a ladder, or lining the edges of a room with books.


And even more book design ideas were offered by the Associated Press (via the Indianapolis Star's Home & Garden section). Under the headline "Turn a page in design to reorganize your books," booklovers were cautioned that "reading books can be an unrivaled pleasure. Staring at them in piles around your home, not so much."


Sometime next spring, Barnes & Noble plans to open a store in Mishawaka, Ind., in the University Park Mall at 6501 North Grape Road. The day before the new store opens, B&N will close its current store at 4601 Grape Road. Mishawaka is near South Bend.


Ingram Publisher Services is now distributing the following publihsers to the trade:

  • VanitaBooks, which publishes books for children ages 4-8 that are short tales teaching a moral or value. Each book presents a dilemma or fear that a child may have and resolves those issues through the guidance of a parent or the plot of the story itself. VanitaBooks donates profits to charities where "people help people help themselves."
  • The Museum of Jewish Heritage--A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, in Lower Manhattan in New York City, tells the story of 20th century Jewish life through first-person narrative. It is called a living memorial because it honors the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust and celebrates the legacy of survivors, using their stories to teach others. Their books are supplemental volumes to exhibitions, expanding on the stories of those who experienced this history for themselves.
  • Arnica Publishing, Portland, Ore. Family-owned, Arnica aims to make "a positive difference in the world through publishing books of fine quality."


Yen Press: Berrybrook Middle School Box Set by Svetlana Chmakova

Book Buddies Land at Idlewild Books

Located in an airy, elegant space, David Del Vecchio's Idlewild Books, on 19th Street just off Fifth Avenue in New York City, which opened officially several weeks ago, has great potential as a site for events--for book and author readings and signings as well as publisher parties. (Manhattan houses please take note!) And the store's emphasis on travel and literature "with a strong sense of place" will allow Idlewild to build an unusual and broad sense of community in a city with such an international accent.

Such were some of the observations made last week when Book Buddies, organized by the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association and Bookazine, made its second foray to consult on and critique bookstores and help their owners. The group--about a dozen booksellers and Shelf Awareness--took its first trip earlier this year to Sparta Books, Sparta, N.J. (Shelf Awareness, February 8, 2008).

Del Vecchio, who was a media officer at the U.N. for many years, said he does not think of Idlewild, named after the original name of Kennedy Airport, as a travel bookstore. (He also said that opening a bookstore was not a lifelong dream--instead the idea came several years ago as a way to combine several major interests.) The 1,000-sq.-ft. store is organized geographically: each region or country has travel guides, language books, literature and historical works, even cookbooks "if they tell a little bit about the place." Sidelines include maps, globes, plug adapters, journals, and more. The only other stores that have a similar organizational style are in London and Barcelona, he said.

In the first few weeks of business, one of the biggest surprises for Del Vecchio was finding that customers did not move around the store as he had anticipated. He had stocked new books in the front, assuming that after coming in the door that is part way down the rectangular space, they would turn toward the front window and then work their way back. "But people come in, look at the middle, go back, and then go to the front." (The store has dramatic floor-to-ceiling front windows that offer great views both looking out and from the street looking in.)

Because of the traffic pattern, Del Vecchio is "scrambling to reorganize" sections. For example, New York, "a destination" in more ways than one, is now in the very front. New books are closer to the middle. And he is stocking a display table--risers are on their way--with new releases.

He's also been surprised by what's selling. "Nobody's buying anything new," he said. Rather, "they're buying a lot of classic, little-known titles. It's very exciting that customers are finding the things we spent a lot of time finding." But he expressed some concern because he expected frontlist to "pay the rent." Some of the booksellers thought backlist did a better job of that. Now Del Vecchio believes that "guidebooks will be our frontlist," he said. So far, the most popular guidebooks are Rough Guides, Footprints and "one-off guides"--the more unusual guides.

Del Vecchio said that customers are buying more "big, oversized $40 books than $24.95 hardcovers," and that some are buying 10 paperbacks at a time. Toby Cox of Three Lives & Co., New York City, where Del Vecchio worked parttime to help learn the trade, said that sales were strong at his store now, too: many of his customers are stocking up for summer reading, so much so that June has become his second-largest month.

Idlewild Books has a very limited selection of foreign-language titles--just a few in Spanish, but Del Vecchio is considering adding other languages, likely French, German, Portuguese and Italian. Booksellers encouraged him to do so, especially considering the many international tourists who flock to New York and the Big Apple's many multilingual residents. Rita Maggio of BookTowne, Manasquan, N.J., pointed out, too, that some customers seek children's titles in foreign languages for their own children. (Interestingly until about 15 years ago, the blocks on Fifth Avenue near Idlewild featured several of the biggest French-, Spanish-, German- and Russian-language booksellers in the country.)

Idlewild has hosted several events, and in each case, the store was approached by an organization. Last Thursday, for example, a book launch, discussion and cocktail reception, co-sponsored by the Mexican Cultural Institute for First Stop in the New World: Mexico City, Capital of the 21st Century by David Lida (Riverhead), drew 100 people--"we've never had fewer than 60 people at any event"--and resulted in sales of 30 copies of the book. The co-sponsors bring wine and send e-mails to all their lists, Del Vecchio noted.

Stephanie Anderson of Moravian Book Shop, Bethlehem, Pa., encouraged Del Vecchio to continue to have regular events. "It's important for people to have a sense things are happening at the store. We have one event a week. It's great to tell customers, 'I can't believe you missed it.' "

Similarly Margot Sage-EL, Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, N.J., said "people want events and parties, and [Idlewild's] space allows that."

Booksellers recommended Del Vecchio hold open houses for various publishers, and Jason Rice of Bookazine emphasized that he should approach local and trade media and get on their radar. "Get in touch with Galley Cat," he said. (Ron and Andy, if you're reading…)

Del Vecchio said he was considering a lunchtime reading series and having reps talk about forthcoming books, ideas that the booksellers greeted enthusiastically.

Noting that he has a background in public relations, Del Vecchio said he has less experience in marketing and advertising. So far he is trying to get mentioned in the media based "on products and the store concept" beyond the idea of the travel store as well as mentioned in any place that might cover a store opening.

Ron Rice of Bookazine emphasized the role of the bookstore in the community, noting that "after 9/11, bookstores played a role in the healing process. People were shocked and wanted information. They wanted books of history about the Middle East, Islam, atlases. They wanted to find out why 'they hated us so much.' Bookstores were a magnetic draw; people didn't run to Ann Taylor."

Picking up on that theme, several booksellers likened their stores' function to that of the traditional bar. Harvey Finkel of Clinton Book Shop, Clinton, N.J., said, "We say we're the bar without the liquor: they tell us their life stories." And Toby Cox said, "We're Cheers with books instead of beer."

Harvey Finkel recommended Del Vecchio look into spreading the word via FaceBook and YouTube, which have worked well for his store. "They're another new way of getting hold of people," he said.

Booksellers suggested Idlewild put more emphasis on staff picks and consider posting shelf talkers. Margot Sage-EL said that "people are overwhelmed by books and want to know what to buy." And Stephanie Anderson said shelf talkers "help sell backlist really well."--John Mutter

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

Ramsey Press: Debt-Free Degree: The Step-By-Step Guide to Getting Your Kid Through College Without Student Loans by Anthony ONeal

Media and Movies

Media Heat: More Than It Hurts You

This morning on the Early Show: Linda Mason, author of Eye Candy: 55 Easy Makeup Looks for Glam Lids and Luscious Lashes (Watson-Guptill, $14.95, 9780823099696/0823099695).


Today on Talk of the Nation: Robert Kagan, author of The Return of History and the End of Dreams (Knopf, $19.95, 9780307269232/030726923X).


Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: David Iglesias, one of the U.S. Attorneys fired for political reasons and author of In Justice: Inside the Scandal That Rocked the Bush Administration (Wiley, $25.95, 9780470261972/0470261978).


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Kenneth R. Miller, author of Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul (Viking, $25.95, 9780670018833/067001883X).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Sophie Uliano, author of Gorgeously Green: 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life (Collins, $16.95, 9780061575563/0061575569).


Tomorrow on CNN Headline News: Douglas Preston, author of The Monster of Florence (Grand Central, $25.99, 9780446581196/0446581194).


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: P. M. Forni, author of The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude (St. Martin's, $19.95, 9780312368494/0312368496).


Tomorrow on Ellen: Barbara Walters, whose memoir is Audition (Knopf, $29.95, 9780307266460/030726646X).


Tomorrow on Oprah: Brian L. Weiss, author of Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives (Fireside, $14, 9780671657864/0671657860).


Tomorrow night on Larry King Live: Oscar De La Hoya, author of American Son: My Story (HarperEntertainment, $25.95, 9780061573101/0061573108).


Tonight on the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Darin Strauss, author of More Than It Hurts You (Dutton, $24.95, 9780525950707/0525950702). Straus has begun blogging about his bookstore tour on Newsweek's website.


KidsBuzz for the Week of 10.21.19

Books & Authors

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next picks:


Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles (Houghton Mifflin, $22, 9780547054018/0547054017). "Jonathan Miles' first novel presents an unknowing catharsis through angst, jealousy, and helplessness. While delayed at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, writer Bennie Ford begins his tirade thinking he deserves a refund for a canceled flight that would have taken him to his daughter's wedding. However, this human rant develops into a backstory of his life. Witty, inspiring, and downright funny, Miles develops a novel with feeling and redemption."--Carolyn Espe, Powell's Books, Portland, Ore.

All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House
by David Giffels (Morrow, $25.95, 9780061362866/0061362867). "Great memoirs tend to be stranger than fiction, and David Giffels' riotous recollection of human willpower versus decaying architecture, contemptible rodents, and one stubborn octogenarian is no exception. An utterly unforgettable chapter in one young man's life."--Katie Capaldi, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich.


The Big Both Ways
by John Straley (Alaska Northwest Books, $16.95, 9780882407326/0882407325). "In this excellent mystery, John Straley captures the feel of coastal Alaska--the rain, the beauty, the loneliness--in a story involving murder, 1930s union threats and corruption, and the dream of a new life. I couldn't put it down."--Don Muller, Old Harbor Books, Sitka, Alaska

Children's Illustrated

Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jen Corace (Chronicle, $12.99, 9780811860239/081186023X). "Little Hoot is frustrated that he can't go to bed at the same time his friends do. But his Papa says that he has to stay up late if he wants to grow up to be a wise owl, so awake he remains. With airy, winsome illustrations and a clever twist on bedtime desires, Little Hoot is an ideal nighttime read."--Genevieve Woods, Spellbinder Books & Coffee Bar, Bishop, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: The Last Flight by Julie Clark

Book Brahmin: Rabih Alameddine

Rabih Alameddine's latest novel is The Hakawati, published by Knopf in April. He is the author of two previous novels, Koolaids and I and The Divine, as well as The Perv, a book of stories. He is a recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and lives in San Francisco and Beirut.

On your nightstand now:

The Known World by Edward P. Jones.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Secret Seven and Famous Five series by Enid Blyton.

Your top five authors:

That would depend on the time of day.

Nabokov, Calvino, Borges, Javier Marías, Yourcenar. Or Marías, Sebald, Patrick White, Cortazar, Nabokov. Or Calvino, Shakespeare, Naipaul, Tolstoy, Danilo Kis. Maybe Fernando Pessoa, Dickinson, Marquez, Coetzee, Amy Tan. Sometimes Flaubert, Coetzee, António Lobo Antunes, Aleksandar Hemon, Muriel Spark.

Book you've faked reading:

I don't fake reading. I fake finishing a book every now and then--for noble and well-intentioned reasons, I should add. Really. I swear.
Book you are an evangelist for:  

Many, but because it is probably least known, An Explanation of the Birds by António Lobo Antunes.
Book you've bought for the cover:

The Joy Luck Club. The cover looked so beautiful, exotic and familiar, so enticing.
Books that changed your life:

A House for Mr. Biswas and A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul.
Favorite line from a book:

"Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life."

Or, "I called my incapacity for living genius, and I dressed up my cowardice by calling it refinement."

Both from The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

A Heart So White by Javier Marías.


Amulet Books: Blood Countess (a Lady Slayers Novel) by Lana Popovic

KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books:  Power of a Princess (More Than a Princess) by E.D. Baker
KidsBuzz: Windsong Press: The Shockhoe Slip Gang: A Mystery by Patricia Cecil Hass, illustrated by Laura Corson
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