Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 1, 2008

Simon & Schuster: Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era by Jerry Mitchell

Sfi Readerlink Dist: Sesame Street: The Monster at the End of This Book: An Interactive Adventure by Jon Stone, adapted by Autumn B Heath

Minotaur Books: The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James

Tor Books: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

DK: Free Pack of The Wonders of Nature Wrapping Paper - Click to Sign Up!

Quotation of the Day

Breaking Dawn at Midnight Tonight

Good luck to the many stores who will be hosting parties late tonight for Breaking Dawn, book four of the Twilight Saga series by Stephenie Meyer, whose official pub date is tomorrow!

In a Q&A with the Wall Street Journal, explaining the series's attraction, Meyer says, "On the surface, it's easy to say it's a vampire romance. But that brings to mind a story with a much darker feel. My books are about being human. They're also an exploration of love, of how much you're willing to give, and how you balance everything."


G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers: The Best of Iggy by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sam Ricks


Notes: J.K. Rowling's Christmas Gift; Store Changes

Christmas has come early for booksellers with the announcement that J.K. Rowling's The Tales of Beedle the Bard will be published for charity December 4. The Associated Press (via USA Today) reported that the Children's High Level Group hopes to raise $8 million through sales of the "five wizarding tales referred to in Rowling's Potter saga."

Scholastic will publish the U.S. edition, while Amazon, which purchased one of the seven original, handwritten copies last year at auction for almost $4 million, "plans a more expensive collectors' edition priced at $100."


Bridget Rothenberger, owner of Nomad Bookhouse, Jackson, Mich., sent an e-mail to customers Thursday announcing that both the bookstore and the historic building that houses it are for sale. The Citizen Patriot reported that Rothenberger and her husband, James, "aren't closing the store, but putting it up for sale in hopes of finding a buyer who will continue running it."

"The business itself has done nothing but grow since we opened in 2005 and I am confident that we have just begun to see what Nomad can be," Bridget wrote in the e-mail. "I have faith that she will go onto another leg in her journey with someone suited perfectly to fully take the reins and continue the dream."


While book prices in Canada have dropped, partly because of the weak U.S. dollar, sales in the first quarter ended June 28 at Indigo Books & Music rose 3.1% to $191 million ($US 186.5 million) and the net loss was $1.3 million ($1.27 million) compared to $2.8 million ($2.7 million) in the same period a year ago.

Sales at Indigo and Chapters superstores open at least a year rose 3.3% and sales at Coles small-format stores open at least a year were up 5.4%. Sales at rose 7.7% to $21 million ($20.5 million).

In a statement, CEO Heather Reisman said, "We are pleased that consumers continue to respond to lower book prices by buying and reading more."


Aimee McLear and Kelly Wright, who have just opened Chapters Book Store in Pittsfield, Mass. (Shelf Awareness, July 16, 2008), were Waldenbooks managers and then worked at a Borders in Lee, Mass., that closed, according to the Advocate Weekly. They have hired Nick Beckwith as events coordinator and Kathy Torrey as a bookseller.

"The great thing about being an independent bookstore is we make the rules," McLear told the paper. "We can involve the community, be open to what they need from us. There are local authors who are marketing their books, and we want to help them promote their work as they help us promote our store."

The 3,000-sq.-ft. store celebrates its grand opening this weekend. Chapters is having a Breaking Dawn party late tonight. Tomorrow the store will offer activities for children, and on Sunday it will be open for the Ethnic Fair.

Chapters Book Store is located at 78 North St., Pittsfield, Mass. 01201; 413-443-2665.


Bookselling This Week congratulates Page & Palette, Fairhope, Ala., which is marking its 40th anniversary this month. To celebrate, the store, owned by Karin Wilson, has published "an impressive 48-page color newsletter, Forty Years at the Heart of Fairhope: Special Anniversary Edition. It features a list of the store's bestselling backlist titles over the past 10-plus years, profiles of more than 60 Fairhope businesses and their owners, authors' comments about the bookstore, and photos of past events."


Beginning today, Consortium Book Sales & Distribution is offering free freight to trade accounts, which means that Consortium and other Perseus Books Group distribution companies Perseus Distribution Services and Publishers Group West will all have the same discount terms.

Consortium said that as a result of the change, customers will "find their ordering process simplified" and Consortium publishers "will experience increased volume in direct sales to retail accounts and will have the ability to identify which accounts are buying their books." The company also said it is making the change "to be more competitive with the many large publishing houses that already offer free freight and to support its independent sales representatives."

In a statement, Consortium president and COO Julie Schaper said, "We are thrilled to be able to offer free freight to our customers and ensure the growth of Consortium publishers' business in a particularly challenging marketplace. These new terms will benefit all of our accounts by making it easier to purchase our publishers' books and keep them in stock."


The Association of American Publishers is launching a pilot program called Book Editors Online and Unscripted, a series of webcasts that makes its debut in September. In each of the live, 30-minute shows, two editors will talk about their upcoming titles--a style reminiscent of BEA's very popular Editors' Buzz panel. A Q&A, moderated by Sara Nelson, editor-in-chief of Publishers Weekly, will follow. Booksellers and media will be able to call in or type questions for the editors.

Bob Miller, the AAP's trade executive committee chair (who is also starting HarperStudio), said that there are three reasons for launching the program: "As an industry, we have all been faced with the ongoing challenge that newspapers are devoting less space to book reviews and reviewers' travel budgets are being slashed. Secondly, up until now there has been no organized format to allow media to hear from multiple book publishers on Winter 2009 titles across publishing houses. Book Editors Online and Unscripted is a way we hope will engage the nation's book media from coast to coast on new upcoming titles digitally and without leaving their desks. Thirdly, we want to create a forum for the nation's booksellers to join us by calling in to participate or visiting our post production web site."


BookStream's TitleWave event, which was scheduled for this coming Monday, August 4, in Princeton, N.J., is being postponed until the fall. The company said that TitleView had "generated high interest. However, due to staffing constraints during a busy summer vacation period, there were a number of last-minute cancellations." TitleWave events feature author appearances, picks of the lists and bookseller discussions of favorite titles, among other things.


Effective immediately, National Book Network is distributing:

  • CK Media, Golden, Colo., which publishes books on scrapbooking and crafts.
  • Helen Exley, Watford, U.K., a longtime gift book publisher.
  • Protean Press, Rockport, Mass., which publishes fiction and nonfiction books.


Here's a list likely to generate debate: American comic book writer and editor Danny Fingeroth chose the top 10 graphic novels for the Guardian:

  1. Maus by Art Spiegelman
  2. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  3. The Quitter by Harvey Pekar and Dean Haspiel
  4. A Contract with God by Will Eisner
  5. It's a Good Life, if You Don't Weaken by Seth
  6. Stop Forgetting to Remember by Peter Kuper
  7. Kings in Disguise by James Vance and Dan Burr
  8. Brooklyn Dreams by J.M. DeMatteis and Glenn Barr
  9. Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot
  10. Why I Hate Saturn by Kyle Baker

KidsBuzz for the Week of 10.14.19

Books & Authors

Land of a Hundred Wonders Off to a Wonderful Start

Last summer Wisconsin author Lesley Kagen was enjoying the publication of her debut novel, Whistling in the Dark (Shelf Awareness, June 19, 2007), which earned a wealth of accolades and became a national bestseller. Word of mouth steadily increased sales of the trade paperback original; 175,000 copies have been shipped.

Kagen's encore novel, Land of a Hundred Wonders, is on sale this week and has a first printing of 100,000 copies. The book--also a trade paper original--is an Indie Next List selection for August and has been designated a Midwest Suggestion title by the Midwest Booksellers Association.  

Set in small-town Kentucky in 1973, Land of a Hundred Wonders is the poignant and humorous story of fledgling newspaper reporter Gibby McGraw. Brain damaged after a car accident that claimed the lives of her parents, Gibby sets out to prove that she can get QR (Quite Right) again . . . by solving the murder of the town's most infamous citizen.
Kagen will soon be hitting the road to promote Land of a Hundred Wonders. What was intended to be a three-week tour has evolved into a two-month-long promotional jaunt across the Midwest and the South because of an outpouring of requests. Some 25 appearances have been lined up in cities and towns from Milwaukee and Minneapolis to Lexington and Richmond, and more are being scheduled.

The book's publisher, New American Library (part of the Penguin Group), is looking to the author to help keep momentum going. "Lesley Kagen is our not-so-secret weapon in selling Land of a Hundred Wonders," said Kara Welsh, v-p and publisher of NAL. "She is a force of nature with wit, charm and charisma to spare. Everyone who meets Lesley can't help but want to read her book."

In addition to introducing readers to Land of a Hundred Wonders while on tour, Kagen is looking forward to meeting booksellers and readers who embraced Whistling in the Dark, which follows the adventures of 10-year-old Sally O'Malley and her younger sister, Troo, in Milwaukee during the summer of 1959.

One appearance for Kagen will be at Cover to Cover Bookstore in Arlington, Tenn., whose owner, Michelle Burcky, was an early supporter of Whistling in the Dark. Other stops include two in Michigan: McLean & Eakin, Booksellers in Petoskey, where a luncheon and discussion will be held at the Perry Hotel, and Schuler Books & Music in Lansing, which is hosting a "Girls Night" event to coincide with Kagen's visit.

After a challenging start to her writing career--more than 130 agents passed on Whistling in the Dark--Kagen is savoring success, and it's not something she takes for granted. The second time around "is more nerve wracking and more thrilling," said Kagen. "I hope readers love Gibby as much as they do Sally and Troo."

Fittingly Kagen's tour kicks off next Tuesday with a party at her local bookstore, the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop in Mequon, Wis., where staffers were among the first champions of Whistling in the Dark. They're equally poised to get behind Land of a Hundred Wonders, and early indications are promising. "Months before it finally came into the store, customers were asking for it," commented Sharry Sullivan, Schwartz's events coordinator.

At Tuesday's celebration, along with a reading from Land of a Hundred Wonders, attendees will be treated to chocolate-covered cherries (Gibby's favorite), pecan tassies, lemonade and sweet tea. Said Kagen, "I'm so excited. We're going to have a little bit of the South up here in Wisconsin."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt


GLOW: St. Martin's Press: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Book Brahmins: Chris Grabenstein

Chris Grabenstein is the Anthony Award-winning author of the John Ceepak/Jersey shore mysteries Tilt a Whirl, Mad Mouse, Whack a Mole and this past month, Hell Hole (St. Martin's Minotaur). He has written two thrillers, Slay Ride and Hell for the Holidays. In May, his "rip roaring ghost story" (from the starred review in Booklist) The Crossroads was published by Random House. A former improvisational comedian who performed with Bruce Willis, Grabenstein has written for the Muppets and scripted a made-for-TV Christmas movie that still shows up every holiday season on obscure cable channels. He spent nearly 20 years writing TV and radio commercials. His first advertising boss was James Patterson. His dog, Fred, however, has the best credits in the family: Fred once starred on Broadway in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

On your nightstand now:

Cold Dish by Craig Johnson, Whitewash by Alex Kava and The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America by Russell Shorto. My nightstand is crowded with books I pick up at mystery conventions from authors I admire and nonfiction books I'm devouring for future brain fodder.

Favorite book when you were a child:  

Mad's Don Martin Drops Thirteen Stories. I used to save up my money all year so that every summer, while on vacation, I could buy a new stack of Mad Magazine books. More than anything else, Mad molded my mind into its current warped state.

Your top five authors:  

Stephen King (the rock 'n' roll voice of the baby boomer generation), Dean Koontz (good stories and a copious quantity of abstruse words like "abstruse" I have to look up), Charles Dickens (characters to incite book riots on the docks), William Shakespeare (funny stuff in the tragedies, words that sing) and Donald Westlake (such a craftsman, he makes it look easy).

Book you've faked reading:  

About half the Oprah books. Anything on that book club table. They just look important. The stuff about geishas and cedar trees and how it affected relationships between overweight twins who used to be in the circus with elephants but were also hermaphrodites in their spare time.

Book you're an evangelist for:  

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. It seems I buy somebody a copy every year.

Book you've bought for the cover:  

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. And then I got to look at all the cool pictures on the inside, too. 

Book that changed your life:

Tilt a Whirl, my own first book, because it literally changed my life. And, of course, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. I was born in New York but moved to Tennessee when I was 10 years old. Too much of the book was still nonfiction in the South during the '60s. I remember the segregated washrooms and water fountains. The separate schools. I remember my dad telling the local hardware store owner to take down his poster advertising the upcoming KKK meeting. He hadn't fought the Nazis, he said, so Americans could do the same thing to each other. My own Atticus Finch.

Favorite line from a book:

"I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice--not because of the voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany."

Well, obviously, it's the first line from my favorite book. I defy you not to read on after that.  

Least favorite line of all time:  

"Susan, being the postmistress in this town as you are, perhaps you know someone who can show us around?" What the Hollywood Pro did to the script my college buddy and I wrote that became The Christmas Gift starring John Denver. I still cringe every December when I hear John Denver say it.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:  

To Kill a Mockingbird. I think it was the first book I ever completely disappeared into. It is rare to find a story with characters so vivid, action so engrossing, it can transport you like that and make you forget where you are, even what time it is in the real world. It's how I know when I'm reading a good book--I can't wait to get back to that world and those people. It all started with Scout.

Book you wish you had written:

Assassination Vacation. That Sarah Vowell is hilarious and smart.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Firewatching by Russ Thomas

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Advocacy vs. Neutrality in the Bookstore

As we've already observed in this series, walking the high wire between political activism and something resembling neutrality can be challenging for indie booksellers in any community. Decisions--about inventory selection, customer interactions, community service and more--have to be made every day.

Last week (Shelf Awareness, July 25, 2008), we showcased responses from Casey Coonerty Protti and Diane Van Tassell to the second of our three questions: Is a community bookstore a neutral corner or an advocacy center?

And, once again, other booksellers have joined the conversation.

"My thoughts on the matter start with Casey's last comment, which is spot-on, though not always followed by smart, opinionated indie booksellers," writes Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, events coordinator for McNally Robinson Books (which will become McNally Jackson Books on August 7), New York, N.Y. "It is vital that booksellers do not judge people for their reading tastes, whether it's Ann Coulter or Dan Brown or Michael Moore. Our job is to match books with readers. Part of that we do by recommending books we love to people who might share our tastes, but part of that is also an exercise in empathy with people who do not share our views and tastes--getting inside their heads to give them the book that is going to satisfy them."

Jessica recalls something she learned from Christine Onorati of Word Books, Brooklyn, N.Y., who "pointed out that since most of us want to be booksellers because it's fun for us, we want to be able to stock the books we like. But we also need to stock books that sell. So the smart thing is to open your store in a neighborhood where people are likely to share your tastes. That way you can stock and recommend your loved books to a customer base that's open to them, even needs them. I suspect for many booksellers, that means running a fairly liberal bookstore in a fairly liberal area. This makes the question easier, as good business sense and our own opinions coincide."

Jennifer Moe, general book buyer for Wheaton College Bookstore, Wheaton, Ill., suggests that the independent nature of our business should naturally lead to retail diversity: "People look to bookstores to fill all kinds of needs. There's a place for a niche, progressive store where the customers know exactly what they're going to find when they enter and know that if they need resources for their particular point of view, there's a store that's likely to have them. There's also a place for bookstores that provide for a wide variety of customers. That's the beauty of independent stores!"

But for Don Muller, co-owner of Old Harbor Books, Sitka, Alaska, advocacy is part of the mission, since "for over 32 years, Old Harbor Books has taken strong stands on political issues. We have publicly opposed industrial logging here, in the region and nationally; we've opposed oil drilling in the Arctic; we've opposed a proposed cruise ship dock here; we've opposed regional mining; we've opposed whichever war the U.S. is in at the time. Our selection of books reflects those positions, although we also carry some books from the right, and will special-order anything. Are we 'labeled' in our community? Absolutely. Do some people refuse to shop here? Absolutely. We may be the only bookstore in the country who has had a person chain himself to the bookstore in opposition to my position against the local pulp mill.  
"I can't imagine not taking positions in our community. I can't imagine how I would feel about myself if we didn't take positions on important issues. I also think in the long run, our bookstore has profited from taking stands. Most people, I think, on both sides respect us for taking stands. And we have gotten thousands and thousands of dollars of free advertising!"

The issue is complicated. Although Kelley Drahushuk, co-owner of Spotty Dog Books & Ale, Hudson, N.Y., calls her staff "liberal leaning," she adds that "we don't wear our political heart on our sleeve. We don't hang posters in support of candidates, national or local. We don't take public stands as a store on politically hot topics, except the importance of shopping locally and the need for Amazon to play fair and charge sales tax. As a private citizen and business owner, I have the same right as everyone else to say what I feel."

Next week, we'll tackle the last question: What do you think your customers expect from you? Do you worry that some will feel excluded?

Well, do you?--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


Arcadia Publishing: Stock Your Shelves!

KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books:  Spies, Lies, and Disguise: The Daring Tricks and Deeds That Won World War II by Jennifer Swanson, illustrated by Kevin O'Malley
KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books: More Than a Princess by E.D. Baker
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