Shelf Awareness for Thursday, July 24, 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: New Bookstore Owners; Herding Bookseller Cats

Earlier this week, we reported on the grand opening of Chestnut Street Books, Stillwater, Minn. (Shelf Awareness, July 21, 2008), managed by Cecilia Loome, daughter of noted antiquarian bookseller Thomas Loome. The Lake Elmo Leader decided to give equal time to Christopher Hagen and Andrew Poole, who are the new owners of Chestnut Street Books as well as Loome Theological Booksellers.

According to the Leader, "When Thomas Loome sought to retire from a career as a bookseller last winter, he thought long and hard about who might continue his mission. His replacement couldn't be just anyone. They would need a strong work ethic, a love of the written word, and the knowledge to serve a diverse set of readers, ranging from enthusiasts of rare books, to academicians, to theologians--many from locales across the globe. Fortunately, Loome needed not search far to find two qualified candidates."

"One of our primary goals is we want this to be a good place to work," Hagen said. "We try to give people here as much responsibility as we can, to do their own thing."

"We've use the term 'guild' to describe it,” Poole added. "We do head it and we do tell people what to do because its necessary at times, but for the most part these people have their territories and they take ownership of it."


The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression is co-sponsoring a program that will bring reporters to bookstores to discuss how the Internet is changing journalism.

According to ABFFE, "The reporters will explore the changing nature of the news business. Has the Internet improved journalism or provided a new forum for disinformation? Are bloggers really journalists? Should they receive the same legal protections that have been traditionally reserved for reporters working for the newspapers, radio and television?"

This is the third program of its kind ABFFE has organized with the MLRC Institute: in 2006 and again this year the organizations have sponsored appearances of reporters in bookstores to talk about the importance of confidential sources. In the first year, 17 bookstores participated; this year 16 participated.

Booksellers interested in participating should e-mail ABFFE president Chris Finan at or call 212-587-4025, ext. 15.


BBC News reported that "two schemes have found different ways for independent bookshops to club together to buy their books on better terms."

The approximately 55 members of Leading Edge Books, "a sort of book club for bookshops . . . pay a monthly fee, which is currently £40 but is likely to rise soon, and in return they are offered a selection of books at greater discounts than they can negotiate through wholesalers or directly with publishers."

The Independent Booksellers' Group "has about 125 members, and twice a year they get together and choose a selection of new books that they want." While there is no subscription fee, members must commit to at least 10 copies each of the books chosen, half of which may be returned if unsold.

"Getting independents to do anything together has always been compared to herding cats because we're all fiercely independent," said Tim Walker, the  owner of Walker's Book who launched IBG with wholesaler Bertrams in 2006, "but I think there's a realisation that actually we need to work together. It allows us to compete--doesn't allow us to beat the competition on price but at least it allows us to compete."


J.K. Rowling does have one regret about her Harry Potter series: "I started writing Harry six months before [my mother] died," Rowling said on a recent BBC Scotland program--Scotland's Hidden Epidemic: The truth about MS--where she discussed the lack of research funding for multiple sclerosis, which killed her mother in 1990. "That's obviously a real regret, because I never told her I was even writing it. She never knew anything about Harry Potter at all."


"Which classic are you ashamed to admit you have never read?" The Telegraph asked authors to confess at the Ways With Words festival.


"Like many megalomaniacs, [Radovan] Karadzic fancied himself a poet," the New Yorker magazine's Book Bench blog observed, noting that in the 1970s, the recently captured former Bosnian Serb leader accused of war crimes "took a few poetry classes at Columbia University while studying psychiatry."

In his book Sarajevo Blues, poet Semezdin Mehmedinovic recalled watching Karadzic on the news, where he "spouted such blatant lies that, in a rage, I found a book of his children's poetry--There Are Miracles, There Are No Miracles--and began ripping it apart."

Of Karadzic's brutal legacy, Mehmedinovic concludes: "It is not only my world that has been deconstructed but language as well. A library, for example, is no longer a building filled with books but a burnt out ruin. These days, if I ever find myself in a library and wander over into the children's section, my heart freezes."


Megan Weireter has been promoted to account and custom sales director at Harvard Common Press, where she will continue to manage key special markets accounts while expanding the company's efforts in custom publishing. She was formerly special sales manager. She started at the press six years ago as a publicity intern while obtaining a graduate degree in writing and publishing from Emerson College.

In a statement, Harvard Common Press publisher Bruce Shaw said, "We've been tiptoeing into the custom business for the past couple of years, and now we are dedicated to making it a significant part of our publishing program. Because we focus on only two categories of books--cooking and parenting--we have the content, knowledge, and resources to succeed in this area. Megan's relationships with marquee retail accounts, manufacturers and other corporations make her uniquely suited to lead our development of a custom program."


Flame Tree Publishing: Detective Mysteries Short Stories by Various Authors

Gas Prices Fuel Amazon Sales, Profits Gains

Amazon apparently benefited from the decision by many consumers to shop more online and spend less time driving to stores in an era of $4-a-gallon gasoline prices. In the second quarter ended June 30, the e-tailer's net sales rose 41% to $4.06 billion from $2.89 billion in the same period a year earlier, and net income jumped to $158 million from $78 million.

Analysts credited Amazon's heavy discounting and free shipping program. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos observed that "Amazon Prime membership costs less than a tank of gas."

Jeffrey Lindsay, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, told the New York Times: "This is a very robust performance and it clearly shows that online selling is holding up very well even if consumer confidence is lower. Even if people are buying less over all, Amazon is benefiting."

Sales of media--books, music and movies--grew 31% to $2.41 billion and represent 59% of the company's net sales. Net sales in North America represent 53% of the company's overall revenue.

The company raised its estimates of sales both for the third quarter and full year. For 2008, Amazon now predicts net sales to grow 30%-35% to somewhere between $19.35 billion and $20.10 billion.


BINC - Double Your Impact

Willow Bridge Books Revisited

Two years ago when Monica McClanahan opened Willow Bridge Books in Oakhurst, Calif., her aim was to "fulfill a real need within the community," she told Shelf Awareness (August 16, 2006). We recently checked in with McClanahan for an update on how things are going and discovered that the store has apparently found a following with both locals and tourists.

Located near the southern entrance of Yosemite National Park, Willow Bridge benefits from an influx of some 1.5 million vacationers annually from May through September. Cultivating this segment of the business is something McClanahan has focused on, and this year the store's regional section is more than double in size compared to a year earlier. "This is something that's unique to us because we're near Yosemite," said McClanahan.

Along with books about Yosemite, hiking trails in the Sierras and local history, the display area includes items such as T-shirts, key chains, backpacks and postcards. The space will change over to holiday titles in the fall, but while the tourist season is in full swing it's a way to maximize revenue. "Since May 1, we've been doing a bang-up job on sales," McClanahan said, "but come September 1, it's like a door slams. People don't come up here, and then we're dependent on the local population."

Residents in Oakhurst and the surrounding area have been "very supportive" of the store, said McClanahan, who attributes its growth--sales are up 40% over last year--partly to the fact that there are no other general interest bookstores within 30 miles. "This is a community that didn't have a bookstore, and I don't have much competition," McClanahan said.

One way in which McClanahan has positioned Willow Bridge Books as a prominent presence in the community is by hosting weekly events. "We're very consistent with it. The community can depend on the fact that there is going to be an event at the store either Friday or Saturday night," McClanahan said. "I think doing that has really kept us in the forefront of everybody's awareness." Guest speakers have included local historians and computer experts.

Inventory has shifted from mostly single titles to two and three copies of some books, with mystery/thriller, fantasy and YA the top categories. Children's books make up 20% of the store's stock. The stationery section has been expanded, and earlier this year magazines were added to the mix.

McClanahan has found another way to boost the store's bottom line: by registering as a small business with both the state and federal governments. When the government is looking to purchase books, bids are solicited from registered businesses--and small businesses are given a 5% edge over large competitors. "I would attribute a lot of the increase in our sales to that," said McClanahan, who noted as one example that the store sold about $3,500 worth of books to a school on a military base in Hawaii.

For the past two years Willow Bridge has sold books at the Yosemite Writers Conference. "It has been a good opportunity in two ways," she said. "We have a lot of writers in the greater Fresno area and it introduced us to them, but it also let the workers in Yosemite know that we're in town."

In late June, St. Martin's Press editor Kathleen Gilligan and Doris Booth of, both of whom were in the area to attend the Yosemite Writers Conference, appeared at Willow Bridge Books. "That was a big event for us," said McClanahan. "Being a small mountain community we don't get many opportunities like that. We packed the store, mostly with local writers. I met authors I didn't know we had up here."

Another big event for the store will be a late-night party on September 19 to celebrate the release of Christopher Paolini's Brisingr, which McClanahan expects to draw both children and adult readers of the Inheritance series. The store will also be open at midnight on August 1 to sell copies of Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn.

The most important piece of advice McClanahan offers business owners is to "listen to their customers," she said. "Our customers let us know exactly what it is that they want. They'll come in and ask for a particular title or a particular author or genre. If you pay attention to what they're saying, you can always get led in the right direction--or pushed in the right direction," she added with a laugh.

The store sends out a weekly electronic newsletter as well as a press release for each of its events, which often are picked up in local and Fresno publications. On June 1, the store began a weekly sponsorship on a local radio station. A three-and-a-half minute segment features a former English teacher reading a book review he has written and promoting the weekly event at the store. Each segment runs three times a week for a nominal monthly cost.

McClanahan is now focusing on two initiatives: growing sales via the store's website and working with fellow business owners in the shopping center where Willow Bridge is situated to improve access and signage along with staging joint events like a chili cook-off in August.

Willow Bridge Books has seen a significant growth in sales since its opening, but an increase in operating expenses means that the store is still in the red. When McClanahan was looking to open a bookstore, she was turned down for funding and dipped into her retirement savings to proceed with the venture. "I'm hoping we can turn a corner this year," she said. "My aim for the third year is to break even." On a more personal note, said McClanahan, "I cannot begin to describe how wonderful it is to meet such wonderful people on a daily basis and talk about the thing I love most, which is books. There couldn't be a better way to spend your days."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt


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: The Man Who Forgot How to Read

Today on Talk of the Nation: mystery writer Howard Engel, who suffered a stroke that left him able to write but unable to read. His latest book is The Man Who Forgot How to Read: A Memoir (Thomas Dunne Books, $19.95, 9780312382094/031238209X).


During the next week on WETA's Author Author!: an interview with Mark Kurlansky, author of The Last Fish Tale: The Fate of the Atlantic and Survival in Gloucester, America's Oldest Fishing Port and Most Original Town (Ballantine, $25, 9780345487278/0345487273).


Saturday on the Today Show: Jennifer Sey, author of Chalked Up: Inside Elite Gymnastics' Merciless Coaching, Overzealous Parents, Eating Disorders, and Elusive Olympic Dreams (Morrow, $24.95, 9780061351464/0061351466).


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

This Weekend on Book TV: My Guantanamo Diary

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, July 26

9 a.m. For an event hosted by Back Pages Books, Waltham, Mass., Alison Bass, author of Side Effects: A Prosecutor, a Whistleblower, and a Bestselling Antidepressant on Trial (Algonquin, $24.95, 9781565125537/1565125533), recounts the rise of Paxil, an antidepressant, and the subsequent lawsuit against the manufacturer for consumer fraud in 2004. (Re-airs Sunday at 5:30 a.m. and 11:15 p.m.)
10 a.m. Politics and Prose bookstore, Washington, D.C., hosted an event featuring Bill Bishop, author of The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart (Houghton Mifflin, $25, 9780618689354/0618689354). The author contends that social homogeny has produced a polarized political and social culture.

5 p.m. At an event hosted by the Book Corner bookstore, Niagara Falls, N.Y., Ginger Strand, author of Inventing Niagara: Beauty, Power, and Lies (S&S, $25, 9781416546566/1416546561), suggests that the Falls are now more a man-made creation and less a product of nature. (Re-airs Saturday, August 16, at 12 p.m.)
6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. For a segment that first aired in 1992, Terry Eastland, author of Energy in the Executive: The Case for a Strong Presidency, argues that "the Commander-in-Chief should be given more power in order to shape a stronger America."

10 p.m. After Words. Nancy Snow, senior research fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, interviews Mahvish Rukhsana Khan, author of My Guantanamo Diary: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me (PublicAffairs, $25.95, 9781586484989/1586484982). Khan recounts her time at Guantanamo Bay prison as an interpreter for Afghan detainees. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m and Sunday, August 3, at 11 a.m.)

Sunday, July 27

2 p.m. Steven Greenhouse, author of The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker (Knopf, $25.95, 9781400044894/1400044898), argues that globalization and an increasing emphasis on corporate profits has diminished incomes, job security and pensions. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)


Books & Authors

Children's Book Review: Angel Girl

Angel Girl by Laurie Friedman, illustrated by Ofra Amit (Lerner/Carolrhoda, $16.95, 9780822587392/0822587394, 32 pp., ages 7-11, September)

The sheer numbers of those who were captured and who perished during the Holocaust can be overwhelming and nearly impossible to grasp--for adults, but especially for children. What makes the experience real and tangible are the individual stories. And what makes this particular story, the true story of young Herman Rosenblat, so well suited to children, is that he survived thanks to another child, a child whose name he did not know, his "angel girl." Friedman (Love, Ruby Valentine) crafts a narrative as spare as poetry. "Women, children to the right. Men to the left," she begins. "Boots clicked. Guns pointed. Commands issued." The passive statements telegraph the child's powerlessness against a nameless, faceless line of uniforms. Herman wants to go with his mother. She tells him, "The time has come for you to be a man." He is 11. By calling him a man and sending him with his older brothers, his mother saves his life. That's the last time Herman sees his mother, but not the last time he hears her voice. Day after day, Herman works in a factory, his only food an evening ration of watery soup before he goes to sleep "on a shelf, [his] thin body . . . pressed amongst hundreds of others."

Israeli artist Amit, making her American picture-book debut, creates long-faced, Modigliani-like figures that, even in the throes of starvation, possess a brightness in their eyes and a grace of movement. She applies neutral pastels over a rust-orange foundation and allows the reddish hues to outline the figures, creating a slightly jarring feeling that effectively keeps the focus on the prisoners and also suggests a halo-like quality. Then one night, Herman's mother comes to him in a dream, "Don't worry Herman," she says. "An angel will save you." Two days later, a girl appears outside the barbed wire fence, partially concealed by a tree, dressed in a rust-colored coat that echoes the outlines of the boy. Friedman makes clear the risk if the two are discovered: "One wrong move meant death. My death. Her death." But the angel girl comes back the next day and the next, always with an apple. While others starved, Herman lived. On the day the camp is liberated, Herman meets the girl at the fence one last time (in the scene used for the book's cover): "You were my angel girl," he tells her.

Years later, in the U.S., Herman has the same dream, and his mother tells him the same thing: "An angel will save you." A friend invites him on a double-date to meet a woman. She speaks of her family's farm in a small village in Germany. With exquisite pacing, Friedman reveals that she is Herman's angel girl. Her name is Roma. Amit, in a perfect echo of the pair's image at the fence, so many years before, renders Roma's face as a complex medley of gratitude, grief, joy and also the absolute serenity that comes with a sense of destiny. This postscript will be most meaningful to adults. What children will remember is how a girl, through her daily act of courage and kindness, saved the life of another child.--Jennifer M. Brown


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