Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 15, 2008

Crown Publishing Group: Madhouse at the End of the Earth: The Belgica's Journey Into the Dark Antarctic Night by Julian Sancton

Minotaur Books: The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter

Beach Lane Books: Try It!: How Frieda Caplan Changed the Way We Eat by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Giselle Potter

Andrews McMeel Publishing: Where, Oh Where, Is Barnaby Bear? by Wendy Rouillard

Atheneum Books for Young Readers: Even the Smallest Will Grow by Lita Judge

Other Press: Zabor, or the Psalms by Kamel Daoud, translated by Emma Ramadan

University of New Mexico Press: High Road Books, a new imprint coming March 2021!

Yen Press: Solo Leveling, Vol. 1 illustrated by Dubu (Redice Studio)

St. Martin's Press: Madam by Phoebe Wynne


More on Kindles--Or Less

Yesterday we ran two letters from booksellers wondering who's buying the hundreds of thousands of Kindles that some observers say Amazon has sold. Their letters elicited more letters--and today's batch includes the first correspondent who's seen many Kindles.

Sean Concannon of Parson Weems Publisher Services wrote, "I commute by train, bus and plane to cover a large part of my sales territory (Me., N.H., R.I., parts of Pa., N.J., N.Y. and Conn.), and I have yet to see a Kindle, except at BEA last May. I occasionally read e-books on a Palm or my laptop (usually advance manuscripts in from publishers I sell), so you know I'm keeping an eye out for this mythical beast. Only twice have I seen the Sony Reader, both times on the New York City subway."

Similarly Kip Jacobson, operations manager of Blue Apple Books, said, "I travel every day from Brooklyn via two subways to Penn Station in New York City and take the train out to Maplewood N.J., and have never seen a Kindle. EVERYONE reads on the train, if not on the subway. I have seen plenty of iPhone 3Gs however, including the one in my hand. I noticed some public domain works are popping up in the iPhone Apps store."

From farther afield, William H. Hamilton, director of the University of Hawaii Press, wrote, "I won a Kindle at BEA and gave it to my son, a techie sort who does all of his reading online. After a few weeks of seeing his wallet thin out from the ease of purchasing books online, he decided to sell it on eBay. It took all of four hours to sell, with numerous follow-up e-mails from interested buyers with all sorts of weird personal stories on why he should sell the Kindle to them. So there clearly are buyers. How long they stay interested in the technology is another story. Give me print anytime."

But Andy Weiner, who handles national account sales for Abrams, offered a different take on the Kindle. Noting that he lives in San Francisco (workplace of Stacey's general manager Tom Allen, who yesterday stated that he has seen "nary a Kindle"), Weiner wrote, "I travel a lot. I spend a lot of time on airplanes and in airports, and I've seen quite a few Kindles. My ex-wife, who lives in San Francisco, has one. She's not sure she loves hers, for some very specific reasons--as a big reader, book lover, and former bookseller. Folks I've spoken to while traveling, though, generally seem to be happy. There are some complaints about the page-forward button on the right being too big, and resulting unwanted page turning. But there's definitely some enthusiasm."


Yearling Books: The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963: 25th Anniversary Edition by Christopher Paul Curtis


Notes: Borders Stock Slip; New Store Profiled; Bad Writing

Shares of Borders Group dropped 6% and closed at $5.34 yesterday after the Wall Street Journal reported that Barnes & Noble is unlikely to make an offer for the company, according to the Associated Press.


Bookselling This Week profiles Hooray for Books!, the Alexandria, Va., the children's bookstore founded in June in the space formerly occupied by A Likely Story, which closed last November. Owners Trish Brown and Ellen Klein were booksellers at A Likely Story. Brown told BTW: "People have been very supportive. Every day, still, people walk in and say, 'We're so glad you're here.' "


A new YouTube video features a tour of the Northshire Bookstore, Manchester, Vt., and words of indie bookstore wisdom from some of the authors who've read there.


Black Sheep Books, Montpelier, Vt., which is "operated by a six-member collective hand in hand with a group of dedicated volunteers," will move to a new storefront space September 1 and has put out a call in Infoshop News for "the help of generous friends and donors" to assist financially with the relocation costs.


Size really does matter when it comes to Terry Prachett's upcoming novel, Nation, which is set on a small desert island. The book's September 13 launch will occur at the "snug" Hayling Island Bookshop, one of the smallest bookstores in the U.K., according to the Portsmouth News.

"It's a huge honour to be selected to host Terry Pratchett," said owner Colin Telford. "He's so well liked worldwide and he's a personal favourite of mine. This really came out of the blue. They were looking for the smallest bookshop on an island as his new book is set on an island. They wanted to do a bit of a quirky launch. So after we sent in our measurements we found out we were accepted."


On the, our good friend Carol Fitzgerald compares Olympic phenomenon Michael Phelps with the perfect book. "He takes off from the wall like a great novel grips you and pulls you in. As he moves down the lane, he has his eye on the field the way a good writer watches over all of his characters--and he stays one step ahead of them." Take a few more laps of her description here.


Scientists may have proven that books can be just as disgusting as movies. Wired reported that "people scanned by Dutch neuroscientists while experiencing variously mediated forms of grossness displayed similar activity in the anterior insula, a part of the brain linked to feelings of disgust." The study suggests "that texts, widely regarded as anachronistic remnants of a time before television, are just as vivid as video."


The winner of the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for bad writing is Garrison Spik, Washington, D.C., who offered this opening sentence to an imaginary novel: "Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped 'Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.' "

The award is sponsored by the English Department at San Jose State University in honor of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, whose 1830 novel Paul Clifford begins, "It was a dark and stormy night."


RosettaBooks: Masque of Honor: A Historical Novel of the American South by Sharon Virts

Unfit for Publication?: Obama Hits Back

With the title Unfit for Publication, Senator Barack Obama's campaign has issued a 40-page rebuttal to The Obama Nation, the new book by Jerome Corsi, co-author of Unfit for Command, part of the Swift Boating campaign of 2004, the Associated Press reported., Obama's website that aims to "fight right-wing smears" against the candidate, calls Corsi "one of the most vile smear peddlers of the 2004 election" and a "discredited, fringe bigot" and says the book is "full of rehashed distortions and the same old lies about Barack Obama, and the right-wing noise machine is in full gear promoting it."

For its part, the AP wrote that The Obama Nation "is a compilation of all the innuendo and false rumors against Obama--that he was raised a Muslim, attended a radical, black church and secretly has a 'black rage' hidden beneath the surface." Corsi also charges that Obama still uses drugs even though he has said and written that he gave them up in college.

The Obama campaign makes some charges about Corsi, writing, "He believes that President Bush is trying to merge the United States with Mexico and Canada. He believes that there is a literally unending supply of oil beneath the ground. And in perhaps the gravest sign that his views can't be trusted, he alleges a government cover-up of the 9/11 attacks and denies that airplanes were to blame for the towers' collapse. And it doesn't stop there. Corsi has penned a litany of bigoted, hateful comments--crossing the line so thoroughly that even the right-wing operatives behind Swift Boat Veterans for Truth disavowed him. This is a man who smears the Catholic Church, calls the Pope 'senile,' and regularly demeans public servants in vile sexual and racial terms."

Published by S&S's Threshold Editions, The Obama Nation will be the No. 1 nonfiction bestseller on this Sunday's New York Times list and was the subject of a front-page story on Tuesday in the Times (Shelf Awareness, August 13, 2008).



Soho Crime: Tower of Babel by Michael Sears

Happy Birthday: Northern Lights Turns 15

Northern Lights Books and Gifts, Duluth, Minn., is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a series in September that highlights the store's literary ties in the community. The series begins on September 4 with a dinner at the Radisson Hotel featuring mystery writer William Kent Krueger, whose new book is Red Knife. On September 18, the store will hold an event remembering Carol Bly and her last published work, Shelter Half, at the Duluth Woman's Club. On September 25, the store hosts a reading by Spike Carlsen of his book, A Splintered History of Wood.

Before founding the store in August 1993, owner Anita Zager worked in the late 1970s as a bookseller at what is now Anderson's Bookstore in Naperville, Ill. She is a past president of the Midwest Booksellers Association and an active member of the Canal Park Business Association.

In an announcement about the anniversary, Zager said that Northern Lights's success stems from "many factors, including a rich collection of regionally related books and high quality, local authors. We have a great location that gives us a strong summer season. We are a full service bookstore. We are active and selective in choosing inventory. And we believe it is important to support local literary efforts. Our staff enjoys talking about books with our customers and offering excellent customer service."

In part because the 1,700-sq.-ft. store has limited space, it has staged many events off site in cooperation with other organizations. These have included a party for Harry Potter last summer that drew 1,000 people and parties for Mitch Albom, Terry Gross, Karen Armstrong, Greg Mortenson, Jan Brett, Krista Tippett, Lorna Landvik, Mary Oliver and Ray Suarez, among others.


AuthorBuzz for the Week of 01.25.21

Booksellers Advisory Council: Incoming/Outgoing Members

Congratulations to new members of the 25-member Booksellers Advisory Council, which offers the American Booksellers Association board "guidance and a broad cross-section of views on an array of matters of concern to the independent bookselling community," as Bookselling This Week put it. The first two are involved in the Emerging Leaders organization:

  • Megan Sullivan, Harvard Bookstore, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Emily Pullen, Skylight Books, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Casey Coonerty Protti, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif.
  • Mitch Gaslin, Food for Thought Books, Amherst, Mass.
  • Judith Lafitte, Octavia Books, New Orleans, La.
  • Paul Hanson, Eagle Harbor Books, Bainbridge Island, Wash.
  • Tova Beiser, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, R.I.

Departing BAC members are:

  • Andrea Avantaggio, Maria's Bookshop, Durango, Colo.
  • Joan Grenier, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, Mass.
  • Mark Mouser, University Bookstore, Seattle, Wash.
  • Holly Myers, Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash.
  • Susan Weis, breathe books, Baltimore, Md.
  • Catherine Weller, Sam Weller's Books, Salt Lake City, Utah


Ingram: Booklove, an exclusive rewards program for indie booksellers!

Image of the Day: Bikin' Bookpeople

Earlier this summer, Monique Muhlenkamp, publicity director of New World Library, and her husband, Steve Napolitano, took a motorcycle trip to California Gold Country and then to the coast, where they visited the Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino. From l. to r.: Muhlenkamp ("with a serious case of helmet hair"); Gallery Bookshop staffer Terry Young; Napolitano; poet Johanna Bedford; Gallery Bookshop owner Christie Olson Day; and Sally Young, aka Mrs. Bookwinkle, who works at Gallery Bookshop.


Media and Movies

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Moves to Next July

Because of the Writers Guild strike and because Warner Bros. has had success with summer releases of Harry Potter films, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will be released July 17, 2009 rather than this November 21, the Associated Press reported.


Media Heat: Nat Turner

Today on All Things Considered: a discussion of the musical version of Little House on the Prairie, which is making its debut in Minneapolis, Minn. (Shelf Awareness, August 6, 2008).


This weekend on NPR's Studio 360: Kyle Baker, author of Nat Turner (Abrams, hardcover, $24.95, 9780810995352/0810995352; paperback, $12.95, 9780810972278/0810972271).


Books & Authors

Awards: NAIBA's Books of the Year

The winners of the NAIBA Book of the Year Awards, sponsored by the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, are:

  • Fiction: Mudbound by Hillary Jordan (Algonquin). NAIBA commented: "Often compared to To Kill a Mockingbird, Hillary Jordan's debut novel, Mudbound, is told in riveting personal narratives by the individual members of the McAllan and Jackson families. . . . This is storytelling at its most indelible--fierce, unflinching and deeply human."
  • Nonfiction: The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs (S&S). "Jacobs's extraordinary undertaking yields unexpected epiphanies and challenges. This book charmed readers both secular and religious, The Year of Living Biblically is part Cliffs Notes to the Bible, part memoir, and part look into worlds unimaginable."
  • Special Interest: Bronx Noir edited by S.J. Rozan (Akashic Books). "The writers represented in Bronx Noir know the borough so well that, reading the book, you'll smell it, feel it, see it, hear it. The sights and scents will be multitudinous and as distinct as the neighborhoods. And everyone of them, in all their glorious mutual contradiction, is the Bronx."
  • Picture Book: Zen Ties by Jon J Muth (Scholastic Press). "Jon J Muth's highly acclaimed picture books are beloved around the world and have been translated into more than ten languages."
  • Children's Literature: The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante (Bloomsbury USA). "While the novel is set on a commune and zealotry plays a role, at its heart is the universality of assessing, accepting, and embracing your own belief system, regardless of what people around you are doing and saying; and it's the story of conviction and self reliance."

The authors will be at NAIBA's Fall Conference awards banquet Sunday, September 21, in Cherry Hill, N.J., to receive their awards.


Book Brahmins: Andrew Davidson

Andrew Davidson was born in Pinawa, Manitoba, and currently lives in Winnipeg; he also lived in Vancouver for a decade and Japan for five years. Davidson's first novel, The Gargoyle, published this month by Doubleday, is the story of the relationship between a severely burned man and the (possibly) schizophrenic woman who claims they were lovers in medieval Germany.


On your nightstand now:

Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen and a half-finished mug of coffee.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Your top five authors:

Thomas Hardy, Tom Robbins, Patrick Sueskind, Vladimir Nabokov, Keri Hulme.

Book you've faked reading:

Guns, Germs, and Steel
by Jared Diamond. (I tried to read it. Oh, how I tried.)

Book you're an evangelist for:

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patick Sueskind.

Book you've bought for the cover:

My guilty confession: I won't buy a book based on a good-looking cover, but I will buy a book based on a good-looking author photo.

Book that changed your life:

Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by e.e. cummings.

At the very least, cummings changed my writing life. While I will always love poetry with formal structure, this collection taught me that sometimes you just need to forget all the rules. As cummings advised: "nothing is quite as easy as using words like someone else."
Favorite lines from a book:

From The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are by Robert Wright:

"And male turkeys will avidly court a stuffed replica of a female turkey. In fact, a replica of a female turkey's head suspended fifteen inches from the ground will generally do the trick. The male circles the head, does its ritual displays, and then (confident, presumably, that its performance has been impressive) rises into the air and comes down in the proximity of the female's backside, which turns out not to exist. The more virile males will show such interest even when a wooden head is used, and a few can summon lust for a wooden head with no eyes or beak."

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

The Inferno by Dante.


Book Review

Book Review: Won't Get Fooled Again

Won't Get Fooled Again: A Voter's Guide to Seeing Through the Lies, Getting Past the Propaganda, and Choosing the Best Leaders by Joseph Boyett (AMACOM/American Management Association, $24.00 Hardcover, 9780814409312, May 2008)

Election season approaches and we ask ourselves, "Will I end up casting my votes for yet more egotistical, narcissistic scoundrels?" Joseph Boyett knows we've been burned in the past, sympathizes with our current plight and, better yet, lays out useful, no-nonsense guidelines that promise to help us make smarter choices.

Boyett may be sympathetic, but he is also is frank about the uneasy dance between us and those we elect as our political leaders. "They're selling themselves as a prelude to selling their vision. Your job is to separate the person from the vision," he warns. My question (and yours too maybe) is: in an age of focus groups, media consultants and shamelessly staged "candid moments," how can the average voter see past the attractive veneer of personal charm to sniff out a program that may turn out to be rife with cronyism, score-settling, corruption and gross incompetence?

Boyett acknowledges that the task is challenging, and he has faith we can learn to do it well. He does, however, favor a tough-love teaching method. Combining a summary of human psychology at play between aspiring leaders and their followers with highlights of previous Presidential campaigns (and what we got in terms of surprises), he reminds us how easily we can be misled and what we need to do to avoid falling into the same old traps. We're only human, he has to admit. Studies show that a successful candidate wins based on likability (content of speeches and record of achievement are, unfortunately, also-ran factors). Faced with a charmingly charismatic campaigner hell-bent on winning, we are ripe for delusion, manipulation and error.

There is hope, though. Boyett provides checklists in various handy Voters' Guides (Questioning the Leader's Vision, featuring indispensable Red Flags like "The Leader Refuses to Admit That His Vision Is Wrong"; The Skeptical Thinking Super List, a/k/a baloney detection kit; and, Propaganda Detection and Defense) that he feels will keep us focused on the real issues. "We want our leaders to be cognitively complex and socially intelligent. However, we rarely pick such leaders because we don't find behaviorally complex people very attractive," one more motivation to work harder before we cast our ballots. His watchwords for us are: demand responsible, competent and intelligent leaders and suspect those who can't show you their true substance.--John McFarland

Shelf Talker: A timely and important guide for vetting candidates that never lets you forget that you will have nobody to blame but yourself if you don't do your homework before voting.


AuthorBuzz: St. Martin's Griffin: A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler
AuthorBuzz: Down & Out Books: Making Hearts by Jack Getze
AuthorBuzz: Revell: When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin
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