Shelf Awareness for Friday, July 25, 2008

Thank You Booksellers For Making Our Award-Winning Books a Success!

St. Martin's Press: Remain in Love: Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Tina by Chris Franz

Walker Books: The Good Hawk (Shadow Skye, Book One) by Joseph Elliott

Tor Books: Deal with the Devil: A Mercenary Librarians Novel by Kit Rocha


Notes: Store Changes; Comic-Con; Marvel's King Video

Although this is Dark Knight time, we have another white knight tale: the children's bookstore Crocodile Pie, Libertyville, Ill., which had planned to close at the end of the month (Shelf Awareness, May 7, 2008), has been bought by Kim Zizic and Amy Moran, who take over on Friday, August 1, according to the Chicago Daily Herald.

Owner Kim White, who founded the store 19 years ago, had planned to retire.

The new owners' first act will be to close the store for nearly two weeks to paint it and install new carpeting.

Zizic, a dentist who practices in the same shopping center as the store, told the paper: "I've always loved the store. I just knew I wanted to do it. I didn't want it to close."

For her part, Moran said, "My husband and I have had dreams about owning our own little shop. But you dream about it, like people dream about winning the lottery."


"Bookstores are a fragile business, but we have a loyal following," said Judy Normandin, owner of Annie's Book Stop, North Andover, Mass., which will close July 31.

"It's time for a change," Normandin told the Eagle-Tribune, which reported that "she plans to reopen the store, possibly in a bigger location and hopefully in North Andover, but she doesn't know when that will be." Until that time, Normandin "will continue to do special orders for schools and work at book fairs to 'keep her hand in' the book world. She said she will also spend time visiting other bookstores and exploring ideas for her next location."


This coming Friday, Books-A-Million will open a 15,500-sq.-ft. store at 9630 Dynasty Drive in Ft. Myers, Fla. A grand opening celebration is planned for July 26 and 27. The store is BAM's 38th in Florida.


Variety featured extensive coverage of this week's Comic-Con in San Diego, Calif., noting that "Hollywood has been relatively slow to realize Comic-Con's potential as a launching pad for other forms of mainstream entertainment. Expect a major shift this year."

"The same audience that likes genre movies likes comedy," said producer Peter Safran. "It's the right audience. There are few places you can go that have a targeted demographic."


"Be Understood at Comic-Con," Wired magazine advised, then offered some helpful translations, including four for the always useful, "You call this near-mint condition? It has a peanut butter stain!" They are:

Elvish: Estatyes alahasta? Vahtana ná apsanen!
1337: nm!? roflmao, stainzzors!!1! wtf?
Klingon: pupbe' Dochvam. lam.
Pirate: Arrrh, this pamphlet's woefully besmirched, ye scurvy knave.


Marvel Comics has made a story by Steven King into an animated video whose 25 episodes will be distributed online and via mobile channels beginning on Monday during the next five weeks, the Wall Street Journal reported. The story, called "N.," is in a collection entitled Just After Sunset that Scribner will publish November 11.

The series will be available on iTunes and Amazon at $3.99. Scribner will sell the book for $28 and offer a book-and-DVD package for $37.50.

The Journal said that the deal "underscores how eager publishers are to come up with new marketing techniques at a time when book sales are flat or slumping. Five years ago, Mr. King's publisher might have taken the creepy short story and offered it to a literary publication like the New Yorker in expectation that a first serial sale would create interest in Just After Sunset. . . . Scribner and Mr. King are betting that a digital adaptation designed for those with short attentions spans will be more productive."


In anticipation of the Olympic Games, the Guardian's book blog showcased "Catherine Sampson's top 10 books on Beijing:"

  1. Beijing Coma by Ma Jian
  2. Please Don't Call Me Human by Wang Shuo
  3. A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li
  4. The Uninvited by Yan Geling
  5. The Crazed by Ha Jin
  6. The Last Empress by Anchee Min
  7. Serve the People by Yan Lianke
  8. I Love Dollars by Zhu Wen
  9. The Dragon's Tail by Adam Williams
  10. Beijing Doll by Chun Sue


A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, which was published in hardcover in May 2007, will appear as a trade paperback on November 25. Riverhead Books has shipped more than 2.3 million copies of the hardcover.


Among changes at Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing:

  • Renee Huff has joined the marketing department as associate marketing manager, mass market. She was formerly an account executive for Campbell-Ewald Advertising Agency and has worked on a variety of campaigns including one for last summer's blockbuster movie, Transformers. She recently received an MBA from the Iona College Hagan School of Business.
  • Holly Nagel has joined the marketing department as advertising and promotions assistant. She is a recent graduate of Boston University's College of Communication, where she received a Bachelor of Science in film and television.
  • Angela Zurlo has been promoted to associate, production. She joined the company as an assistant 10 months ago.
  • Jocelyn Titus has joined the production department as assistant. She is a recent graduate from Ramapo College with a B.A. in communications.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

Bookselling This Week Roundup

The current issue of Bookselling This Week has a range of particularly good articles:

As the dollar continues to fall, energy prices rise and the economy stumbles, bookstore customers are buying more travel memoirs and fewer guides for traditionally popular spots, for example, in Europe. This summer some booksellers are seeing more of customers who used to be away much of the season. Travel to this story by clicking here.


Booksellers who opened stores within the past several years discuss what they would have done differently if they did it all over. Among the areas they would have modified: well, just about everything of importance, including location, when to open, staffing, raising enough capital, inventory, selection, etc., etc. Regrets here.


BTW offers a sampling of green sidelines harvested from the Go Green Expo, including cards, bags, totes, photo albums, bookmarks, journals--and even an umbrella and solar charger.


BTW profiles Sacred Path Books & Art, Cleveland, Ohio, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio that stocks a range of spiritual and religious books and is "a fervent advocate for localism and fair trade."


Last but not least, a list of the 12 ABA member bookstores that opened in May and June.


Running Press: Thank You! Now on Instagram!

Media and Movies

Media Heat: More About What Happened

Tonight on Hardball with Chris Matthews: former White House press secretary Scott McClellan, author of What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception (PublicAffairs, $27.95, 9781586485566/1586485563).


BINC: Double Your Donation with PRH

Books & Authors

Awards: MPIBA Regionals; Judaica Reference, Bibliography

Winners of the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association's 2008 Regional Book Awards, which honors outstanding books set in the region, are:

  • Adult Fiction: God of Animals by Aryn Kyle (Scribner)
  • Adult Nonfiction: The Day the World Ended at Little Bighorn: A Lakota History by Joseph M. Marshall III (Viking)
  • The Arts: Great Ranches of the West by Jim Keen (Keen Media)
  • Children's: Wind Rider by Susan Williams (HarperCollins)
  • Poetry: Adobe Odes by Pat Mora (University of Arizona Press)

The awards will be presented at a luncheon in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, September 19, during the MPIBA trade show.


Winners of the Association of Jewish Libraries's reference and bibliography awards:

  • The Judaica Reference Award: Writers in Yiddish edited by Joseph Sherman (Thomson Gale)
  • The Judaica Bibliography Award: Dictionary of Iberian Jewish and Converso Authors by Norman Roth (Aben Ezra Ediciones; Universidad Pontifica Salamanca)

A special Body-of-Work Citation was presented to the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit at the University of Cambridge and to its retired director, Stefan Reif.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Judaica Reference Honorable Mention: The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism by Geoffrey W. Dennis (Llewellyn Publications)
  • Judaica Bibliography Honorable Mention: Inventory of Yiddish Publications from the Netherlands, c. 1650-c. 1950 by Mirjam Gutschow (Brill)


G.P. Putnam's Sons: A Tender Thing by Emily Neuberger

Shelf Awareness's Faith in The Grift

In mid-July, Crown ran an ad with Shelf Awareness offering a galley give-away for Debra Ginsberg's new novel, The Grift (August 12, 2008). It was so successful that Crown had to quickly replace the ad with one that did not offer a galley. We were pretty happy about this, since Debra reviews books for the Shelf and we like her a lot. We also like The Grift, a noir-ish novel about a psychic whose gift for fleecing people turns into quite a different, and unsettling, gift.

Ginsberg became intrigued by a newspaper article about a psychic arrested for fraud, who bilked a series of people for over a decade. The "clients" didn't press charges, their families did--the people were either too embarrassed or still believed in the woman. The willingness of people to trust psychics and the motivation of the woman--did she believe in herself? Was she entirely evil? Was she helping the "victims?"--was the inspiration for this page-turner.

In Ginsberg's story, Marina Marks has been on the grift since she was a child and has ended up in Florida, with plans to leave for California as soon as she has enough money. Marina isn't a "get in, get out" scam artist; she believes in building up business slowly, growing both need and trust in her clients. "So immersed had she become in her own psychic persona that she was sure she could have passed a lie detector test. The deep irony of it was that Marina did not--now or ever--believe that psychic ability existed at all." Further irony: after her California move, quite a bit of drama with three clients and an unexpected romance, Marina finds she now has the ability to see into the future. Even worse, "the dead had been mixing freely with the living for Marina," and her new visions were ruining her business as a psychic--who really wants the truth?

Intertwined in the story of Marina and her clients--affair-prone Eddie, trophy wife Madeline and Cooper, gay and in love with a closeted shrink--is the mystery of her lover's death, an exploration of reality and the experience of providing answers for people seeking guidance. What do they need? What do they want? What is Marina's responsibility? Debra Ginsberg deftly weaves a story of illusion, fraud, reality and redemption, with a bang-up ending.

Get ready for some big sales: The Grift is an Indie Next Notable Pick for August and has some good plugs in the August issues of O and Redbook. Debra will be signing at both the MPIBA and SCIBA trade shows in September and October and is planning to drop in on as many Southern California bookstores as possible to say hello, sign stock, drop off some fun stuff like bookmarks and "generally thank these fantastic booksellers for all their support. I am indebted to the indies--truly. I don't think I'd have any kind of writing career were it not for their unflagging support." That well-deserved unflagging support can only be enhanced with the publication of The Grift.--Marilyn Dahl


Book Brahmins: Luanne Rice

Luanne Rice is the author of 24 novels, most recently What Matters Most, The Edge of Winter, Sandcastles, Summer of Roses and Summer's Child. This year Bantam has published Light of the Moon (January 2008) and Last Kiss (July 15, 2008). She lives in New York City and Old Lyme, Conn., where she is at work on her next novel for Bantam. She takes some time out of her amazing writing schedule to answer a few questions:

On your nightstand now:

The Third Angel
by Alice Hoffman, China Court by Rumer Godden, Birds of Central Park by Cal Vornberger and The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw by Bruce Barcott.

Favorite books when you were a child:

The Whales Go By by Fred Phleger, The Happy Orpheline by Natalie Savage Carlson, Little Plum by Rumer Godden, Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry and I Heard the Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven.

Your top five authors:

J.D. Salinger, Ernest Hemingway, Laurie Colwin, Gretel Ehrlich and Mary Oliver.

Book you've faked reading:

Harry Potter.

Book you are an evangelist for:

This Cold Heaven by Gretel Ehrlich.
Book you've bought for the cover:

Salamina by Rockwell Kent.

Book that changed your life:

The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson.
Favorite line from a book:

"Then I began to love him more than anything on earth."--From Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway, but that will change 10 times before the week is over. Too many to count.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Franny and Zooey
by J.D. Salinger.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: The Politics of Ordering & Merchandising

We continue our discussion of bookstore retail politics (Shelf Awareness, July 18, 2008) by sharing some insightful responses to the first question: What role do your political views play in ordering and merchandising decisions?

Jennifer Moe, general book buyer for Wheaton College Bookstore, Wheaton, Ill., is "faced with those kinds of decisions all the time. For us, the answer lies somewhere in between Diane's and Casey's responses. For a buyer, personal bias really has to take a back seat to what it seems the community wants. I can't tell you how many books I've ordered that I think are ridiculous but that I know people in our community will be interested in. There are other times when I will read about a book, think it sounds amazing, order it for our store and nobody buys it but me."

"It's a simple business decision for me," wrote Sarah Pishko, owner of Prince Books, Norfolk, Va. "I want to sell books to all of my customers, no matter what their politics are. I want people who are both conservative and liberal to feel equally welcome in my bookstore--and equally willing to spend money! I've stocked and sold some humor books like Bad President, etc., but there are plenty of other trivial/humorous titles that I choose not to carry because they are so in-your-face anti-Bush. I simply don't want to offend Republican browsers. I would not stock the Obama countdown clock. I'll stock serious and legitimate anti-Bush books, and I'm careful to stock some titles by such publishers as Regnery. I don't even put political bumper stickers on my car, but I think most people assume that I'm a Democrat, which I am."
Kelley Drahushuk, co-owner of Spotty Dog Books & Ale, Hudson, N.Y., described the bookstore's staff as "liberal-leaning. However, we have let our customers determine the liberal-leanings of our shelves with their pocketbooks. When we first opened, we were determined to evenly represent both sides of the political spectrum. However, when all the Ann Coulter languishes on the shelf and the Al Franken keeps on turning . . . well, who wants to waste shelf space? Have we had customers come in and accuse us of being a 'liberal bookstore?' Yes. We simply explain to them that we stock what sells and would be absolutely thrilled to special order whatever they want. And if they become a regular and we know we can count on them to buy certain authors of the right? We would be thrilled to stock their titles as soon as they come out--we are, after all, in business to sell books and selling books of all kinds is what allows us to remain in business."

Next week, answers to question #2: Is a community bookstore a neutral corner or an advocacy center. Can there be a, well, "third place" between the two when it comes to politics? Here's what our catalysts for this series had to say:

Diane Van Tassell, Bay Books: "A community bookstore should be a place where people buy books that appeal to them. It should not be a political place where one candidate or philosophy should be rammed down the throats of the patrons. People come into bookstores because they love books or they just want to while away a few hours enjoying themselves. A bookstore should be a sanctuary where people can be themselves and talk to staff and other patrons about books. If customers bring up the subject of politics, I let them talk but don't add my own feelings to the mix. Bookstore staffs are often like bartenders--they need to be good listeners because sometimes people need to talk and have someone listen to them without comment. That is what brings customers back--because they feel appreciated. Let's face it, everyone loves to hear themselves talk and so often no one wants to listen. So isn't that the purpose of our bookstores, to give people an enjoyable experience?"  

Casey Coonerty Protti, Bookshop Santa Cruz: "I think a community bookstore is a place where ideas should be debated and shared. At times, Bookshop Santa Cruz has taken positions and other times, we only serve to inform both sides. Sometimes we advocate for titles and sometimes we highlight why we disagree with a particular book's agenda. For instance, in the case of the book The Bell Curve, we carried and sold that bestseller but we also included books in our display that argued the racial and cultural bias of standardized tests. We sought to enhance the debate, not just sell the book. However, most of the time, we just offer books for people's own choice. We also train all of our employees to never pass judgment on someone's reading choices as we are excited when people are reading, period."

Now it's your turn and, as always, you know who you are.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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