Shelf Awareness for Monday, August 18, 2008

Dutton Books: A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor (The Carls #2) by Hank Green

HP Piazza: Regain Control of Your Publishing Content - Register Now

Post Hill Press: Personality Wins: Who Will Take the White House and How We Know by Merrick Rosenberg and Richard Ellis

Walrus Publishing: I Will Be Okay by Bill Elenbark

Parson Weems Publisher Services - Click Here!


The Kindle Controversy--'A Sign of What?'

The letters we published late last week wondering who is buying the Kindle, if 240,000 have been sold, kindled more reactions on Friday and over the weekend. A few readers said they have seen a fair amount of Kindles, and one owns a Kindle and is a big fan--with a few caveats. Others wrote that they use or prefer different e-book reading devices, such as the Sony Reader and Pocket PC. One correspondent noted that 240,000 or fewer Kindles in a population of more than 300 million would understandably make Kindle-spotting difficult. Yet another writer said he's reading ever more books because he's found a great "new" electronic form--the audiobook!

With a few reservations, Kim Welsh, who bought a Kindle a month ago, said she likes it "much more than I thought I would. For reading materials that are primarily text-based such as novels, it is ideal. I'm finding that the e-Ink technology lives up to its early reputation of being very easy on the eyes, and the delivery system from Amazon to the Kindle is unbelievably seamless and lightning fast. (It's a good thing that the electronic versions of the book are less expensive.)

"For books and publications that include a lot of graphics, color, or artwork, Kindle is not the way to go. Traditional books are wonderful and many can never be replaced by a digital reader. For me, with most books, it's more about the story or the information inside (along with the quality of writing overall) than it is about the container.

"I don't think it's a big mystery that we're not seeing Kindles everywhere yet. $359 is still spendy. But eventually the prices will come down even as the quality of the device, and others like it, improves. Kindle and e-book readers have their place. They're not perfect, but they're getting there. I sure like mine."


Elaine Bloom of wrote that she saw her first Kindle "at the New Space conference of the Space Frontier Foundation (SFF), being used by a member of SEDS (Students for Exploration and Development of Space), and I know that the executive director of the SFF has one and loves it."

Bloom called this another example of "what I have come to think of as the 'digital divide.' E-readers may not be popular among people who are a bit older (like me), but they're what young people use. They are just not that interested in carrying books around."

Still, the Kindle has potential for making inroads among the older generation because of the ability to adjust type size on it, she said: "As we face the graying of America I am often amazed by the small or very light typefaces used in books."


Dan Poynter, author and publisher of Para Publishing, has written about e-books and prefers using a Pocket PC for reading while traveling rather than a Kindle or Sony Reader, which he called "one-trick ponies." (He does like the Kindle's quickness in downloading new material.) "My speaking travels average some 6,000 miles each week. Yes, 6,000; I made five around-the-world speaking itineraries this year. (I have a home in Santa Barbara but live on United Airlines.)" He reads a lot--but from his Pocket PC--and rarely has seen a Kindle.


Several readers noted that some sales forces have been given Sony Readers, in part to cut down publishers' carbon footprints. Random House rep Ginny Mortorff wrote that "one personal benefit for me is that I took 15 manuscripts with me on vacation. Since we motorcycle around the country I have been limited in the past because of space issues, but my Sony Reader held more than enough for me read to my heart's content."


Julie Carter of Grand Prairie, Tex., wondered if Shelf Awareness readers "really want the Kindle to fail. Do people think Amazon is LYING and that no one is really buying those Kindles?"

[Editor's note: Actually Amazon won't say how many have sold, which has fueled the Kindle controversy.]

Carter continued: "I live in a decent sized city (350,000+) in Texas with no public transportation (meaning we drive ourselves to work, and few people read on their commute), and I've seen TWO Kindles. I know of several more. But why wouldn't someone in big bad New York or San Francisco not have seen one? Let's do the math.

"240,000 Kindles. Round down the U.S. population to 300,000,000. That's about 1 per 1,250 people. So in a city of 8 million people, that's 6,400 Kindles.

"Come on, people, I love books too. But I'm not in denial about what will be involved in the future of reading. Books aren't going anywhere, and no one (except maybe Jeff Bezos) wants them to. But the convenience of carrying a whole library in a $300 device the size of one book is an addition to the bookselling world that can't be denied."


Eric Stover had a twist on the e-device debate, writing, "I'm a bookseller in one job, write software for bookselling in another, and am of course an avid reader. What I find far better than either paper books or e-books are audiobooks. While my paper book reading has remained fairly constant over the past few years, my reading in general has gone up exponentially to the point where audiobooks now make up about 80% of my reading so far this year (60% last year, 20% the year I discovered audiobooks . . . yes, I'm a big enough geek that I actually track that sort of thing). Interestingly since I do all my e-book reading on my iPhone, most of my e-book reading occurs either when I've not thought to bring a book somewhere or at night when the lit screen is less intrusive than a book light or lamp would be. Neither of these would be likely uses if I had a Kindle . . . I still want one--I'm too much of a geek not to--but I'm unsure of how it would fit into my practical reading habits."


Ellen Smith of the Hudson Library and Historical Society, Hudson, Ohio, had a money-saving tip for all e-readers. "Train commuters who are inclined towards e-books (or audiobooks, for that matter) should realize they can save themselves their hard-earned dollars by downloading books from their public library for free--so long as they DON'T use a Kindle. Amazon has not made its device compatible with any public library version (a product of OverDrive), therefore everything viewed on a Kindle costs money!"


And in a note that makes for an appropriate close to today's letters about the Kindle and e-books in general, Alexandra Ogilvie wrote, "I recently left my job at an independent bookstore where I had worked for 17 years. On the Metro in Washington, D.C., on the way to my first day at work in a university library, I noticed a man standing over my shoulder on the packed Metro car reading on a Kindle. It was my first (and so far only) sighting, and I felt like it was some kind of sign. A sign of what, I am still working out."


Disney-Hyperion: The Mirror Broken Wish (Mirror #1) by Julie C. Dao


Notes: Price Fixing Returns; Transitions Closes

After a Supreme Court ruling last year "upended" the longtime practice of not allowing manufacturers or suppliers to punish retailers who discount their products more than the suppliers like, some manufacturers "are embracing broad new legal powers that amount to a type of price-fixing--enabling them to set minimum prices on their products and force retailers to refrain from discounting," according to today's Wall Street Journal.

The suppliers who prefer this approach tend to have high-end products whose image they want to protect. Consumer advocates and discount retailers are unhappy. Some state attorneys general have written Congress asking for new laws to address the matter.


A DVD set of the first season of Gossip Girl, which goes on sale this week, includes an audio version of the novel by Cecily von Ziegesar on which the TV series is based and can be transferred to an iPod. The New York Times reported that publisher Hachette hopes to invigorate sales of the audio, narrated by Christina Ricci. The 12 books in the series have sold 5.6 million copies; the three audio versions, based on the first three books, have never sold more than 1,000 copies a year.

Audiobooks' single-largest market has been drivers, which doesn't translate well to young adults. As Anthony Goff, publisher of Hachette Audio and Digital Media, told the Times, "The teen and the late-teen market has been a really tough market for us."

Donald Katz, founder and CEO of, aims to reach that market by promoting audiobooks "as an educational alternative to music on iPods and iPhones," which could make iPods into "storytellers and learning machines."


Sadly we have to report that Transitions Bookplace & Cafe in Chicago, Ill., closed on Friday, according to the Chicago Tribune. We noted in Thursday's issue that negotiations were taking place in an effort to save the spiritual store, which had just turned 20.

Owners Gayle Seminara-Mandel and Howard Mandel told the paper that they decided to close because they could no longer pay rent and meet payroll.

Seminara-Mandel told the paper that she "realized Transitions was in trouble when she started seeing $10 Buddhas for sale at Target." In addition, "the readers went away."


The Corner Shelf, Culpeper, Va., will switch from a bricks-and-mortar to online-only bookstore in September, according to the Free Lance-Star.

"The Corner Shelf is not closing. We're just changing our format," said Gordon Dickerson, the 87-year-old owner who has operated the bookshop with his daughter, Faith, for more than three decades.

"We're not real happy about making this change," Dickerson told the paper, which reported that "a sour economy, mega-bookstores in neighboring towns and Internet retailers such as have finally caught up with the Corner Shelf."


Got books? In Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald asked, "Should books be stored? Or should they be shared, divested and ditched in favour of clean, open shelves with room for a knick knack or two?" A few noteworthy alternatives were on display.


Michael von Glahn is the new editor of the National Association of College Stores's College Store magazine. He joined NACS's publications department in June 2007 as assistant editor, working on the magazine and Campus Marketplace, the weekly newsletter. He earlier was an editor and writer at several consumer magazines, copy editor of business publications and a freelance writer. He replaces Keith Galestock, who left recently after 10 years as College Store editor.


GLOW: Inkyard Press: Come On In: 15 Stories about Immigration and Finding Home edited by Adi Alsaid

Dial-A-Book Connects with the U.K.

Gardners Books, the largest book wholesaler in the U.K., will distribute in the U.K. and around the world more than 215,000 Dial-A-Book excerpts through its Digital Warehouse. The book excerpts, which contain full bibliographic data, tables of contents and five to nine pages of initial text, previously had been available only in the U.S. The excerpts also appear in Gardners's online dealer catalogue and through 150 affiliated e-commerce sites.

In a statement, Stanley R. Greenfield, founder and president of Dial-A-Book, said that the extended distribution of this book data will result in higher sales of U.S. works in the global marketplace.

Bob Jackson, commercial director of Gardners Books, said, "Giving professional book buyers in retail and libraries, and consumers buying on our customers retail websites, access to sample content prior to purchase will greatly enrich their buying decision."


Atheneum Books: Saucy by Cynthia Kadohata, illustrated by Marianna Raskin

Small World Story: A Book for Barack

In his latest store e-mail, sent out last Thursday, Tom Campbell of the Regulator Bookshop, Durham, N.C., offered a story about Senator Barack Obama coming into the store and asking for a recommendation. What one book would the bookseller want the senator to buy? Campbell decided on Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War by Joe Bageant (Three Rivers Press).

"This is white working class America from the point of view of a left-leaning insider," Campbell wrote. "Why do all these none-too-wealthy folks usually vote Republican? What is this thing they have with guns, and with Jesus? What are their lives really like, and how have their lives changed over the last 40 years or so? (They have not changed for the better, that's for sure). What kinds of things can people on the left do--and not do--to break the hold the Republicans seem to have on their votes? It's all here, told by a gifted storyteller who has a bit of an edge to his voice because of what is happening with his people. There's a ton here that Obama (and all of us who consider ourselves liberals) can learn about the harsh lives most of these people live."

Then he let on that Obama hadn't actually come into the store and wondered if any customers knew how he could get Deer Hunting With Jesus to the Illinois senator.

Five minutes after sending out the e-mail, Campbell heard from David Ferriero, formerly head librarian at Duke (and a steady customer) and now Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries, who said that Bob Gibbs, the director of communications for the Obama campaign, is the son of Nancy Gibbs, head of the acquisitions department at the Perkins Library, part of the Duke University Libraries, also in Durham. She wrote that a divinity professor had had a similar idea and knew of her connection--and Gibbs had already sent the suggestion to her son. But she has "no idea if Barack read the book."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: It's Chelsea, Vodka, Co-Hosting on the View

Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Abbe Smith, author of Case of a Lifetime: A Criminal Defense Lawyer's Story (Palgrave Macmillan, $24.95, 9780230605282/0230605281).


Today co-hosting on the View: Chelsea Handler, author of Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, $24.95, 9781416954125/1416954120).


Tonight on Larry King Live: Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life (Zondervan, $14.99, 9780310276999/0310276993). He will also appear today on Nightline and Fox's Hannity & Colmes.

Also on Hannity & Colmes: Frank Luntz, author of Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear (Hyperion, $24.95, 9781401302597/1401302599).


Tomorrow morning on the Early Show: Marvelyn Brown, author of The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful, and (HIV) Positive (Amistad, $14.95, 9780061562396/0061562394).


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Philip Shabecoff, author of Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault on Our Children (Random House, $26, 9781400064304/1400064309).


Books & Authors

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next picks:


Undiscovered Country by Lin Enger (Little, Brown, $23.99, 9780316006941/0316006947). "At the end of a day of deer hunting, 17-year-old Jesse Matson hears a shot. He runs to his dad's deer stand to find his father dead, apparently from a self-inflicted rifle shot. This reinterpretation of Hamlet, set in northern Minnesota, is beautifully written and explores themes of betrayal, revenge, and the possibility of forgiveness and redemption."--Sally Wizik Wills, Sister Wolf Books, Minneapolis, Minn.

Kick the Balls by Alan Black (Hudson Street Press, $23.95, 9781594630477/159463047X). "Alan Black writes about his decision to run for mayor that led to a commitment to coach his son's soccer team. The team sucks, his lawn dies, no one can understand his accent, and he turns to late-night televangelism and Ben and Jerry's to console himself. Absolutely hysterical."--Jake Hallman, A Great Good Place for Books, Oakland, Calif.


Stormy Weather by Paulette Jiles (Harper Perennial, $13.95, 9780060537333/0060537337). "In Paulette Jiles' novel, set in Texas during the Great Depression, a family faces the chaos of dust storms and the debilitating experience of poverty, as Jiles tells a compelling story of characters balancing survival and taking major risks. This is a very good work of historical fiction."--Dianne Patrick, Snowbound Books, Marquette, Mich.

For Ages 4 to 8

Bear's Picture by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by D.B. Johnson (Houghton, $16, 9780618759231/0618759239). "This is the story of a young bear who loves the painting he's working on, knows exactly how it should look, and doesn't care at all what anyone else thinks of it. Pinkwater has written another great children's book and Johnson's illustrations are perfect!"--Lisa Sharp, Nightbird Books, Fayetteville, Ark.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

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