Shelf Awareness for Thursday, August 14, 2008

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal

Mira Books: Her Dark Lies by J T Ellison

Shadow Mountain: Ming's Christmas Wishes by Susan L Gong, illustrated by Masahiro Tateishi

Tor Books: Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell


Who's Buying All Those Kindles?

Two booksellers expressed similar reactions to the reports in the past week that Amazon has sold 240,000 Kindles since November and may sell 380,000 this year (Shelf Awareness, August 12, 2008).

Tom Allen, general manager of Stacey's Bookstore, San Francisco, Calif., wrote: "I would assume that a significant share [of Kindle sales] would have been purchased in the Bay Area. However, I find it odd that I have yet to see one in action. I ride BART to and from work five days a week and see dozens (hundreds?) of iPods every week and a laptop or two or three every day, but nary a Kindle. Who has them and where are they? Wouldn't reading one while commuting be a primary use?"

And Rob Dougherty, manager of the Clinton Book Shop, Clinton, N.J., said, "To date, only three individuals who have come into the shop have even mentioned having or having had the Kindle. I say 'having had' because one individual lost their Kindle. We talked about how it is so much easier to replace a $6.99 paperback as opposed to a little box they paid hundreds for."


University of California Press: Beethoven, a Life (1st ed.) by Jan Caeyers, translated by Brent Annable


Notes: B&N Unlikely to Bid for Borders; S&S Film Deals

Barnes & Noble is unlikely to make a bid for Borders Group, according to today's Wall Street Journal, which cited "those familiar with the situation."

The causes include the tight credit markets and the length of some of the leases Borders holds. The company had announced that it would look into the matter but had never sounded particularly enthusiastic.


Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing has signed a deal with the Gotham Group, a Los Angeles management firm, under which it has the option of publishing a book based on a film proposal if Gotham thinks the film project will make a solid book, the New York Times reported. S&S then would share a percentage of film as well as video games, comic book and other non-book project revenues.

"It's about having more control in the process," Rick Richter, president of S&S Children's Publishing, told the Times. "Typically publishers tend to stick their heads in the sand after the book hits Hollywood."

S&S's first project under the program is a middle-grade book series by David O. Russell, director of Three Kings and I Love Huckabees, among other films.

Russell's project is called Alienated and is about two children who work for "an old tabloid that covers the world of freaks and aliens," he said. With a co-writer, he has written drafts of a script for a film with the same title.

By the way, legend has it that Russell wrote the screenplay for Spanking the Monkey, his first feature, while working as an editor at the American Booksellers Association in a previous life.


Sadly during the week the store marks its 20th anniversary, the future of Transitions Bookplace in Chicago, Ill., is in doubt, according to a notice on the store's website from manager Damien Varnado. He wrote: "We hope to remain open. That may entail a move to a smaller location nearby, a change in ownership and the possibility of the doors forever closing exists. . . . As soon as we are sure of our fate, we will commence with business as usual or exit gracefully. Negotations are taking place."

The spiritual store is holding a clearance sale but fixtures are not for sale "unless things take a turn for the worse."


Congratulations to one of our favorite booksellers, Roberta Rubin, owner of the Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka, Ill., who reports that Chicago Magazine calls the store the "Best Nonchain Bookstore" in Chicago (and nearby). The Book Stall was cited for longevity, selection, helpful staff and "the all-important fact that it is connected to a Caribou Coffee." (!)


Sharp-eyed Carin Siegfried of Baker & Taylor writes that The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 has a scene in which the character Carmen is at a cafe. In the background, "you can plainly see a sign for House of Books next door. This scene supposedly takes place in Vermont, but House of Books is an independent bookstore in Kent, Conn., where part of the movie was filmed. I just thought that was cool that an indie bookstore got a few seconds of screentime."


The North Kitsap, Wash., Herald featured the West Sound Independent Booksellers collective's first in a series of "semi-regular columns enhancing the literary side of What's Up with favorite books of the moment and all the rage straight from local shelves."

The debut effort focused on "a few of our current favorite reads and introductions to the bookstores that make up the West Sound Independent Booksellers," a group that includes Bethel Avenue Book Company, Port Orchard; the Dauntless Bookstore, Port Gamble; Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge Island; Liberty Bay Books, Poulsbo and the Traveler, Bainbridge Island.


Belgian native Vivianne Friedlich originally opened Pierre Books, Hollywood, Fla., in 1997 because "she missed reading books in her native language," according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The bookshop's "business grew initially because of the local Haitian population in Miami, visiting Europeans and French-speaking Canadians."

A move to larger space about a year ago has proven to be a business challenge, however. Vivianne's husband and co-owner, Pedro, told the Sun-Bulletin that the move put their business at risk because, in a weak economy, "books are not the first necessity. When we moved we did not expect to lose customers."

Despite obstacles, Pedro notes that the rewards of being a bookseller still outweigh the difficulties: "It's just the pure joy of books."


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled Wednesday that copyrights to some of John Steinbeck's best-known works, including The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, should belong to publisher Penguin Group.

According to Reuters (via Forbes magazine), the decision "overturned a 2006 ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Owen in New York that had granted the rights to about 10 books to Steinbeck's son, Thomas Steinbeck, and granddaughter, Blake Smyle."

Reuters also noted that the "case has been seen as having ramifications for heirs of other artists seeking to control future use of famous works.


Ingram Publisher Services is distributing the following new clients:

  • Mediane, an Italian publisher that specializes in photographic books focusing on cinema, culture and music.
  • GemmaMedia, Boston, Mass., which publishes memoir, biography, fiction and current affairs.


AuthorBuzz for the Week of 10.19.20

Bookstore Sales in June: Swoon, But Still Up for the Year

For the first time in months, bookstore sales fell in June, down 7.6% to $1.07 billion, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the year to date, bookstore sales have risen 3.1% to $7.676 billion.

By comparison, total retail sales in June rose 1.3% to $346.787 billion. For the year to date, total retail sales were up 3% to $2,014.286 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, bookstore sales are of new books and do not include "electronic home shopping, mail-order, or direct sale" or used book sales.


University of California Press: The Mwindo Epic from the Banyanga (1st ed.) edited by Daniel Biebuyck and Kahombo C Mateene

Candlewick to Publish New Kate DiCamillo Novel in Fall 2009

Candlewick Press has acquired world rights to a new novel, The Magician's Elephant, from Newbery Medal-winner Kate DiCamillo (her fifth middle-grade novel with the publisher). President and publisher Karen Lotz bought the manuscript from Holly McGhee and Emily van Beek at Pippin Properties, and it will be edited by associate editor Andrea Tompa for a fall 2009 release. In a statement, Lotz said, "Kate reveals the extraordinary tale of The Magician's Elephant through an entirely new approach in her storytelling. As a writer, she continues to astonish and amaze us with her reach and command."

By now, the story of how DiCamillo's first novel, Because of Winn-Dixie, came to Candlewick is the stuff of fairytales. Working on the children's floor at the Bookman, a former book wholesaler in Minneapolis (which the author still calls home), DiCamillo became reconnected to children's books and, at the Bookman's annual Christmas open house, she mentioned that she had a picture book in the works to Candlewick sales rep Linda Nelson, who then ushered the manuscript to the home office. Although that manuscript didn't get published, Winn-Dixie did.

In the eight years since the publication of Because of Winn-Dixie (a Newbery Honor book), DiCamillo has sold more than 10.5 million books worldwide--in more than 30 languages. The Tiger Rising, her second middle-grade novel, was a National Book Award Finalist; her third novel, The Tale of Despereaux, won the 2004 Newbery Medal (and the feature film it inspired releases for Christmas on December 19); and the fourth, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for fiction.

Immediately following the book deal, Pippin Properties and Monteiro Rose Dravis Agency sold film rights to Fox 2000. Julia Pistor, executive producer of Charlotte's Web and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, is the producer.


Experiment: Speaking of Race: Constructive Conversations about an Explosive Topic by Patricia Roberts-Miller

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Beyond Tolerance

Tomorrow on the Tavis Smiley Show: Gustav Niebuhr, author of Beyond Tolerance: Searching for Interfaith Understanding in America (Viking, $25.95, 9780670019564/0670019569).


Saturday on NPR's Weekend Edition: George Pelecanos, author of The Turnaround (Little, Brown, $24.99, 9780316156479/0316156477).

Berkley Books: The Last Night in London by Karen White

This Weekend on Book TV: The Bezos BEA Interview

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, August 16

11 a.m. Tennis legend Billie Jean King, author of Pressure Is a Privilege: Lessons I've Learned from Life and the Battle of the Sexes (Lifetime Media, $19.95, 9780981636801/0981636802), talks about her book in an interview filmed during BookExpo America in Los Angeles, Calif. (Re-airs Saturday at 7 p.m., Monday at 1 a.m., Monday, August 25, at 7:30 a.m. and Saturday, September 6, at 11:30 a.m.)
3:30 p.m. For an event at Politics and Prose bookstore, Washington, D.C., Les Standiford, author of Washington Burning: How a Frenchman's Vision for Our Nation's Capital Survived Congress, the Founding Fathers, and the Invading British Army (Crown, $24.95, 9780307346445/0307346447), discusses the capital's history and Pierre Charles L'Enfant's designs. (Re-airs Saturday, August 23, at 12 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday, August 24, at 3 a.m.)
10 p.m. After Words. Charles Murray interviews Yale law professor Anthony Kronman, author of Education's End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life (Yale University Press, $27.50, 9780300122886/0300122888). Kronman argues that universities emphasize a curriculum fueled by political correctness rather than the works of classic "great thinkers." (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m., and Sunday, August 24, at 12 p.m.)
Sunday, August 17

12 a.m. A conversation between Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of, and Wired magazine's editor-in-chief Chris Anderson. This event was filmed at BookExpo America in L.A. (Re-airs Monday at 5 a.m., Sunday, August 24, at 8 a.m. and Monday, August 25, at 5 a.m.)

4:30 a.m. Tom Engelhardt, editor of The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire  (Verso, $19.95, 9781844672578/1844672573), and Michael Schwartz, one of the book's contributors, discuss the war on terror and the invasion of Iraq. (Re-airs Saturday, September 13, at 11 p.m. and Sunday, September 14, at 10 a.m.)
8 p.m. Leonard Susskind, author of The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316016407/0316016403), talks about his disagreements with physicist Hawking regarding the nature of black holes. (Re-airs Monday at 1:30 a.m.)


Books & Authors

Children's Book Review: The Leanin' Dog

The Leanin' Dog by K.A. Nuzum (HarperCollins/Cotler, $15.99, 9780061139345/0061139343, 256 pp., ages 8-12, September)

Through the eyes of 11-year-old Dessa Dean, Nuzum (A Small White Scar) shows readers what grief feels like to a child and the way the companionship of a stray revives her. The book follows the narrator and her Daddy in the week leading up to Christmas. The father struggles to kill game for their dinner, to keep a pile of wood for their stove and to give his daughter material for her studies while he is away trapping. The story opens as the girl coaches herself to venture past the boundary of her cabin: "I was almost to the edge. Almost to where the porch stopped and the wide world began." But her ears start to ache, "the losing-Mama ache." She cannot leave the safe perimeter of her cabin. Nearly daily, she works to keep her "daymares" a secret from her father, fearing that he will think she's "daft." Dessa Dean continues to experience waking nightmares--flashbacks to when, on November third, her ears deadened with frostbite, and she watched her mother die in her arms, their snowshoe tracks erased by blowing snow. But on this day, the girl, alone in the cabin, is awakened from her daymare by a scratching sound, made by a "big, fudge-colored dog." Opening up to him introduces problems: he panics at a closed door, so the girl keeps the door ajar, and the wood supply dwindles; the food she leaves for him attracts first varmints, then predators.

Nuzum illustrates the way that pain acts as a magnifier for the beauty in everyday details. As Dessa Dean decorates their modest cabin for Christmas, for instance, she realizes that the angel her father carved before she was born wears her hair the same way Mama did for special occasions, and "the angel's eyes had the soft, almond shape of the eyes of a deer, just like Mama's." The author choreographs a rhythm to the father and daughter's days, dictated by the briefer hours of daylight, the spare use of kerosene for the lamps, the preparation of food (one can almost smell the bacon) and sitting down to a meal together. As Dessa Dean opens up to the dog, she also lets her father in, and the healing begins for all three of them. This spare novel, as notable for what is left unsaid as it is for its eloquent, economical prose, lets readers know that the world around us does not stop for grief, but sometimes it sends us messengers to say that, forever altered as life may be, Willow Creek will start to thaw, the trout will begin to run downstream and the sunlight will begin to linger a little longer.--Jennifer M. Brown


The Bestsellers

Independent Mystery Stores: Top Sellers in July

The following were the bestselling titles at member stores of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association during July:


1. Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais (S&S)
2. A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
3. Swan Peak by James Lee Burke (S&S)
4. Illegal Action by Stella Rimington (Knopf)
5. Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's)
6. Murder at the Bad Girl's Bar & Grill by N.M. Kelby (Shaye Areheart)
7. Moscow Rules by Daniel Silva (Putnam)
7. Uneasy Relations by Aaron Elkins (Berkley)
7. Cockatiels at Seven by Donna Andrews (St. Martin's)
7. The Last Patriot by Brad Thor (Atria)
7. Master of the Delta by Thomas H. Cook (Harcourt)
Trade Paperback

1. In the Woods by Tana French (Viking)
2. Secret Asset by Stella Rimington (Vintage)
3. Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann (Flying Dolphin)
4. The Winter of Her Discontent by Kathryn Miller Haines (Harper)
5. On the Ropes by Tom Schreck (Midnight Ink)
5. Thick as Thieves by Neil Low (Tigress)
5. An Accidental American by Alex Carr (Random House)
8. The Foreigner by Francie Lin (Picador)
9. Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse by Victor Gishler (Touchstone)
9. The Indian Bride by Karin Fossum (Harcourt)
Mass Market

1. Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
2. At Risk by Stella Rimington (Vintage)
3. Tiny Little Teeth by Aaron Elkins (Berkley)
3. The Penguin Who Knew Too Much by Donna Andrews (St. Martin's)
5. Sorrow on Sunday by Ann Purser (Berkley)
6. Boneyard by Michelle Gagnon (Mira)
7. We All Fall Down by Simon Wood (Leisure)
8. The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke (Pocket)
9. Killer Weekend by Ridley Pearson (Jove)
9. South of Hell by P.J. Parrish (Pocket)
9. A Vintage Murder by Michele Scott (Berkley)

[Many thanks to the IMBA!]


AuthorBuzz: Harper: You Can Go Home Now by Michael Elias
AuthorBuzz: BookLocker: Regaining Paradise: Forming a New Worldview, Knowing God, and Journeying into Eternity by Paul Corson
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