Shelf Awareness for Thursday, June 19, 2008


Forge: Empire of Lies by Raymond Khoury

imon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Becoming Rbg: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Journey to Justice by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Whitney Gardner

St. Martin's Press: Cilka's Journey: A Novel by Heather Morris

Park Row: The Ventriloquists (Original) by E.R. Ramzipoor

Henry Holt & Company: Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of "the Children's Ship" by Deborah Heiligman

Other Press: Metropolitan Stories by Christine Coulson

Rick Riordan Presents: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1) by Kwame Mbalia

News

Notes: Iowa City Flooding; Russert Sales; Proud Penguin

Concerning the flooding in the Midwest, Susan Walker, executive director of the Midwest Booksellers Association, writes:

"We know that the University of Iowa bookstore in Iowa City, located in the university's student union building, is flooded--the building is right down on the river bank, unfortunately. Apparently they were able to move books and fixtures out before the water rose, from what we are told by third-party sources, but the very recently renovated union building itself is flooded. The other Iowa City stores--Prairie Lights and Iowa Book--are up on top of the hill and well above the river level, so they wouldn't get flooded themselves, but they are certainly affected by the destruction and losses in the city as a whole."

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As of yesterday, the paperback editions of the late Tim Russert's two books, Big Russ and Me: Father and Son: Lessons of Life (Miramax) and Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons (Random House), are the No. 1 and No. 2 bestselling titles at Amazon.com and in the top 5 at B&N.com. But like many bricks-and-mortar stores, the big online retailers are out of stock.

Amazon says it will have copies of Big Russ and Me on July 2 and copies of Wisdom of Our Fathers on July 12.

Carol Schneider of Random House told Newsday that since Russert's sudden death last Friday, the company is printing 100,000 additional copies of Wisdom of Our Fathers, which began shipping this week. Likewise Beth Gebhard said that Hyperion has gone back to press for 100,000 copies of Big Russ and Me.

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Higher fuel costs, particularly diesel for busses, are battering public schools' budgets, and in response, school boards are shaving outlays for everything from building maintenance and field trips to textbook purchases, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series has sold more than 400 million copies worldwide. The Guardian noted that the boy wizard "will still have his work cut out to catch the Bible, which, according to the Guinness Book of Records, has sold 2.5 billion copies since 1815, and has been translated into 2,233 languages or dialects. Rowling would be more likely to catch Mao Zedong's Little Red Book, which has reportedly sold 900 million copies, but its sales are slowing down."

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Penguin proudly notes that its operations in Canada and Australia were simultaneously--but perhaps not coincidentally--named publisher of the year.

Penguin Canada was honored by the Canadian Booksellers Association at BookExpo Canada, the first time in 20 years it won the award and the third time overall. Penguin Canada president and publisher David Davidar thanked authors, agents, booksellers and staff.

Penguin Australia was honored at the Australian Book Industry Awards for the first time in nine years and the third overall, too. CEO Gabrielle Coyne thanked "the company's spirit of collaboration, with authors, illustrators and photographers as well as booksellers, suppliers, agents and the media."

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"In megastore era, small businesses must be smarter, not just smaller," noted the Asheville, N.C., Citizen-Times, which offered tips on "what the survivors are doing." Suggestions included:

  • Link service to purchases. . . . One local bookstore hosts special events with leading authors that are open only to those who purchase books from the store.
  • Band together. . . . independent bookstores recently formed IndieBound to encourage customers to value and patronize local bookstores, helping them compete against the likes of Amazon. There's strength in numbers.

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BookMasters, Ashland, Ohio, has broken ground on a new warehouse that will offer 40,000 square feet of space and will include wire-guided tracking for its turret trucks and RFID inventory management controls with complete EDI capabilities.

Dave Wurster, COO of BookMasters, noted that the new state-of-the-art warehouse will give the company 9,000 more pallet locations in addition to the 22,500 it already has in its 100,000-sq.-ft. space. The company has a 110-acre site, allowing plenty of room for more expansion.

BookMasters's AtlasBooks division distributes and sells for more than 500 publishers.

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Amazon is opening another fulfillment center in Arizona, this one in Goodyear. Last year it opened a fulfillment center in Phoenix. The Goodyear center, which opens in the fall, will have more than 500,000 square feet of space.

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Read Orwell, save the world. SciFi channel's Visions for Tomorrow initiative asked fans to pick the "Top Things You Must Read, Watch and Do to Save the World." Wired reported that the "top three planet-saving activities were reading, recycling and registering to vote."

And what should you read?

  1. 1984 by George Orwell
  2. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
  3. Dune by Frank Herbert
  4. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  5. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov   
  6. The Stand by Stephen King      
  7. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury   
  8. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
  9. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  10. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

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John Fagan, many years ago a bookseller at the University of Pittsburgh, has added another area of responsibility to the several he already has at Penguin. V-p and director of marketing for Penguin Books and executive director, academic marketing and sales, Penguin Group, he is now also marketing director, eBooks, a new position.

In a statement, Susan Petersen Kennedy, president of the Penguin Group, said, "We are excited by the current momentum of our eBooks in the marketplace and by the number of Penguin Group (USA) eBooks that continue to top national bestseller lists. Connecting writers to readers is what we are all about and eBooks are yet another way to make that happen."

Before joining Penguin as marketing director of Penguin Books in 2000, Fagan held various sales and marketing jobs at Random House for 13 years.

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In partnership with Greater Talent Network, Inc., Simon & Schuster has created a speakers bureau that will offer the services of its authors for speaking engagements worldwide. As the company put it, "Groups looking for the best in public speakers can find authors from a variety of disciplines to satisfy any interest, including business finance, technology, health and well-being, current affairs and journalism, food, history and politics, fiction, entertainers and celebrities, memoirists, award-winning authors, and more."

"Connecting authors with an audience of readers and book buyers in as many ways possible is our top priority, and the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau reflects our firm belief that the life of a book and interest in our authors extend well beyond initial publication," Carolyn Reidy, S&S president and CEO, said in a statement.

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PopMatters, the online arts and culture magazine, is running a month-long look at "the world of the secondhand bookstore and its storied place in the lives of book lovers." New essays appear each week. Check it out at popmatters.com/pm/features/series/434/.
 


Amulet Books: Minor Prophets by Jimmy Cajoleas


The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: What's the Story?

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, the coming-of-age story of a mute boy and his dog by David Wroblewski, published on June 10 by Ecco, is "poised to be one of the breakout titles of the summer" in large part because of "strong reviews and promotional support from Amazon.com," the Wall Street Journal wrote.

Amazon's support included choosing the book as one of the best books of June, posting a long blurb from Stephen King (which also appeared on galleys), selling the book at a 40% discount on its home page for two weeks before pub date, running a preorder banner in May and posting an essay by the author written for Amazon. (This morning the title was No. 14 on Amazon's bestseller list.)

The book has been reviewed favorably and received attention elsewhere, and its sales are growing. Ecco has gone back to press seven times, and there are now 90,000 copies of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle in print.

"It's doing fabulously well and we've already reordered," Sessalee Hensley, fiction buyer at Barnes & Noble, told the Journal. "I haven't had to reorder many books this spring and summer but this is an immediate hit."

Last week, the Journal said, Costco boosted its order to 18,000 copies from 3,000.

And for the week ended last Sunday, the book made its debut at No. 11 on the hardcover fiction section of Indie Bestseller List.

 


One ELM Books: Trevor Lee and the Big Uh Oh! by Wiley Blevins, illustrated by Marta Kissi


BEA in L.A.: Jews and Books, a Love Story

Why Jewish Americans Love Books, Buy Books and Read More Books Than Practically Anyone Else on the Planet--How to Get Them Into Your Store (or Make Them Your Customers) Today!

This was the full title of the Jewish Book Panel at BookExpo America, which tried every which way to explain why Jews disproportionately seem to buy more books than any other segment of the population. At the same time, the panel offered ways to sell even more books to Jews, further enforcing the notion that Jews are not only the people of the book (as dubbed by Muslims), but "people of the books," said Stuart Matlins, founder of Jewish Lights Publications.

Matlins asked the group, "What is with us?" He answered his own question, saying, "Jews read books directly in proportion with education, not in proportion with our numbers, which is less than 2% of the population." (Most of that population seemed to be at this well-attended panel.)

Matlins emphasized that Jews don't just read books about Jews. They read everything, including "self help, 'junk fiction,' Eat, Pray, Love and books about identity of all kinds. Great hunger for knowledge continues," he added.

Daisy Maryles, executive editor of Publishers Weekly, echoed Matlins's sentiments about Jews readings books about identity. As the daughter of Holocaust survivors, Maryles said she asked herself such questions as, "Do people from other cultures feel this way? Do Japanese and Indians feel this way? Does the world need to know we feel this way, too? I thought no one went through what we went through." Then she read Amy Tan and found that the issues in her books were similar to her own: mothers and daughters, family, cultural identity. Books by authors with different traditions have given her insight into places she would have never known and illustrated ties between the cultures, she said.

Ruth Andrew Ellenson, the editor of The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt (Plume)--may we suggest a follow-up title, The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Gelt?--spoke about niche marketing of her book. Her publisher asked her to change the name to The Modern Girl's Guide to Guilt, but she stood by her title and wrote and marketed her book as she wanted--to Jewish women.

The book of essays by young Jewish women writers, including Aimee Bender, Daphne Merkin, Dara Horn, Tova Mirvis, Rebecca Goldstein and Molly Jong-Fast, explores things that their rabbis warned them never to discuss in public--and it landed on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. Ellenson called Jewish marketing "the great miracle."

Ellenson encouraged writers to market heavily to the Jewish market and not shy away from it, saying, "Making [a book] broad enough for everybody makes it marketable to nobody." But, she added that her book received strong responses from black and Asian woman as well, illustrating that guilt is not a Jewish monopoly.

Someone mentioned book clubs as another way of drawing more Jewish customers to bookstores. But the booksellers present indicated they have had mixed results with in-store book clubs. It's about creating a network, not always about reading Jewish-themed books. [Note from the author: When working at Barnes & Noble in the late '90s, I ran a book club called "the Vaguely Jewish Book Club." The sought-after Jewish community showed up at the store in a non-Jewish neighborhood to discuss books with a vaguely Jewish theme. Jews and non-Jews alike enjoyed the club.]

To illustrate how surprisingly difficult it can be to market to a niche group, Matlins spoke about the marketing efforts of the Book of the Month Club to reach the Jewish reader. The program was called "Traditions" and had a marketing line "Covering All Subjects From Joy to Oy." Matlins said the effort "was put to death because they were delusional about the size of the population. Traditions produced the highest number of books per order, but there weren't enough customers to make it work."

The Internet is another important marketing tool, of course. Several people in the audience suggested marketing books through a variety of sites that have been notable for viral marketing of Jewish-themed titles, including Jewlicious.com, Jewityourself.com, Ritualwell.com and Jewcy.com.

The panel, put together by Carolyn Hessel of the Jewish Book Council and moderated by Marilyn Hassid, director of the Houston Jewish Book Fair, also addressed how booksellers should best sell and shelve Jewish books.

Stuart Matlins summed up the panel discussion by speaking of a children's book that asks if being Jewish is "about how we look or what we do." He jokingly answered, "It's how we look."

It's safe to say, besides buying and reading a copious amount of books, we are also funny.--Susan L. Weis

[Full disclosure: Weis, who is Jewish, opened a bookstore, breathe books in Baltimore, Md., because she loves books, bought more books and read more books than practically anyone else on the planet, as the panel title implies. Now she sells those books to Jews and other people, too.]

 


Ecco Press: Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Torture Team

Today on Fresh Air: Philippe Sands, author Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values (Palgrave Macmillan, $26.95, 9780230603905/0230603904).

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Tomorrow on the Today Show: Leslie Jordan, author of My Trip Down the Pink Carpet (Simon Spotlight, $21.95, 9781416955559/1416955550).

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Sunday on NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me: Debra Winger, author of Undiscovered (S&S, $23, 9781416572671/1416572678).

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On Monday on Fox & Friends: Richard Roeper, author of Debunked!: Conspiracy Theories, Urban Legends, and Evil Plots of the 21st Century (Chicago Review Press, distributed by IPG, $19.95, 9781556527074/1556527071).

 


NCIBA & SCIBA: Holiday Catalog


This Weekend on Book TV: Willful Blindness

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, June 21

12:45 p.m. Jim Noles, author of A Pocketful of History: Four Hundred Years of America--One State Quarter at a Time (Da Capo, $25, 9780306815782/0306815788), examines the history of the images on the state quarters. (Re-airs Saturday at 7 p.m.)

2:30 p.m. At an event at Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, Ariz., Andrei Cherny, author of The Candy Bombers: The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America's Finest Hour (Putnam, $29.95, 9780399154966/0399154965), talks about how the Soviet blockade of Berlin shaped the Cold War. (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m. and Monday, June 30, at 2 a.m.)
     
5 p.m. For an event at the Harvard Coop, Timothy Colton, author of Yeltsin: A Life (Basic Books, $35, 9780465012718/046501271X), recounts the life of the first elected leader in Russian history. (Re-airs Sunday at 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.)
     
6 p.m. Encore Book Notes. In a segment that first aired in 1997, John Brady, author of Bad Boy: The Life and Politics of Lee Atwater, talked about the former Republican National Committee chair and party leader during the 1980s.
    
10 p.m. After Words. Hugh Hewitt, host of the Hugh Hewitt Show, interviews Andrew McCarthy, author of Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad (Encounter Books, $25.95, 9781594032134/1594032130). McCarthy was the lead prosecutor against the men responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and Sunday, June 29, at 12 p.m.)

Sunday, June 22

4:30 p.m. Quil Lawrence, author of Invisible Nation: How the Kurds' Quest for Statehood Is Shaping Iraq and the Middle East (Walker, $25.95, 9780802716118/0802716113), discusses the plight of the 25 million Kurds who live in parts of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. (Re-airs Sunday, June 29, at 1:30 a.m.)

 


Starscape Books: Freeing Finch by Ginny Rorby


Books & Authors

Awards: Miles Franklin Literary Award

The Time We Have Taken by Steven Carroll (Fourth Estate) has won the Miles Franklin Literary Award, Australia's most prestigious literary prize, worth A$42,000 (about US$39,600).

"It's an extraordinary thrill and honour," Carroll said, as quoted by Bookseller & Publisher Magazine's Weekly Book Newsletter. The author added that it is "daunting to be joining a long list of authors whom you've either studied or admired for years."

The Time We Have Taken is the third in a trilogy and has not been published in the U.S.

 



Book Review

Children's Review: The Wave



If it is possible to capture in book form a child's first flirtation with the sea, Lee (The Zoo) does it here. Because there are no words to describe that initiation, Lee uses none. Instead, her charcoal pencil depicts a girl on a vast beach running from her mother's side to the water's edge. Five seagulls line up behind her as a blue wash of water--the book's only color--slides peacefully toward her. A few bubbles of white suggest the outlines of a row of quiet waves, while a gray watercolor wash outlines the moist footprint the waves leave behind. As the girl grows more courageous, the water becomes more forceful. A cascade of blue bubbles begins to rise above a horizon line emphasized by the book's overlong format. In a brilliant use of the gutter, Lee stops the wave, even as it rises in height and power, at the center of the spread--just shy of where the child menaces the wave or sits feigning boredom. After several of these exchanges, the child bravely steps over the gutter and into the wave; a line of blue bubbles indicates a gleeful burst of splashing and frolicking. The blue tinges the wings of the gulls, and soon the wave gathers to a height greater than the girl's, taking on a watery human posture. A joyful game of tag ensues, in which the wave chases the girl landward; feeling safe, she sticks out her tongue, hands on hips. But her respite is momentary. The frothing, bubbling blue overtakes the next spread, with no sign of the heroine. When the wave recedes, it leaves behind a world engulfed in blue--blue sky, blue splashes on the beach, even the girl's dress is now blue. But the salty sea also leaves behind its treasures: starfish and seashells, plenty for both girl and gulls to pore over. As her mother comes to fetch her (blue shoes in hand), the girl sees her reflection in the sea. Lee suggests that both the girl and the ocean have been altered by this experience. On the final spread, the heroine waves to the sea, as the sea sends waves back toward the girl, and the gulls fly off into the sunset. In 40 wordless pages, Lee captures the fascination, awe and ongoing sense of wonder that the ocean inspires in each of us, no matter how old.--Jennifer M. Brown

 


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