Shelf Awareness for Thursday, August 21, 2008

Grove Atlantic: The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broom

Feiwel & Friends: A Delayed Life: The True Story of the Librarian of Auschwitz by Dita Kraus

New Directions: Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming by László Krasznahorkai, translated by Ottilie Mulzet

Workman Publishing: Real Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A 28-Day Program to Realize the Power of Meditation (Second Edition, Revised) by Sharon Salzberg

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci, illustrated by Jim Rugg

Clarion Books: The Thief Knot: A Greenglass House Story by Kate Milford


B&N Second Quarter: Missing Harry Potter

Comparisons to the second quarter last year, when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released, hurt Barnes & Noble this year. In the quarter ended August 2, sales fell 1.6% to $1.2 billion and net earnings were $15.4 billion compared to $18.1 billion in the same quarter a year ago. Nearly half the company's net earnings resulted from "a more favorable physical inventory shortage rate than previously estimated and accrued."

Sales at stores open at least a year fell 4.7%, while B& sales rose 3.6% to $99.8 million. If sales of the last Harry Potter book are excluded, sales at stores open at least a year would have fallen 1.5% and sales online would have risen 13.9%. For the third quarter and full year, B&N expects sales at stores open at least a year to fall in the low single digits.

B&N said that "despite the softer sales environment, the company's management of operating expenses and higher-than-forecasted gross margins enabled it to exceed its second quarter earnings per share guidance. Gross margin was stronger than expected due to greater utilization of the company's distribution centers and a lower markdown rate."

Bestselling titles during the quarter included Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn, Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture, Lauren Weisberger's Chasing Harry Winston and David Wroblewski's The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.

The company also declared a 25-cent dividend, payable to stockholders of record at the end of the day on September 9.


Ingram: Congratulations 2019 National Book Award Winners - Learn More>

Notes: Bunch of Grapes Asks for More; Beer, Books & Bacon

Good news from Bunch of Grapes.

The store on Martha's Vineyard, which was wrecked by fire on July 4 (Shelf Awareness, July 7, 2008), has temporary office space with computer and phone access (at the old number of 508-693-2291). In a letter to reps, manager Katherine Fergason said that Bunch of Grapes will reopen eventually, probably next spring.

Fergason said, too, that she and assistant manager Dailis Merrill are defining the store's core inventory and that some store staff will be at the NEIBA trade show next month.

Most important, Fergason stated that the store very much wants publishers and distributors to begin sending ARCs and catalogues--particularly for next spring--again. "We feel so sad without books," she wrote. "So in our best Oliver Twist impression, 'Please, sir, may we have some more?' "

The store's temporary address is:

Bunch of Grapes
54 Main St., Apt. 1
P.O. Box 1608
Vineyard Haven, Mass. 02568


Time Out Chicago recommends Chinaski's, a new bar that is "doing its part to bring a little literary culture to its strip of Damon Avenue," a neighborhood that "badly needs" a bookstore. The owners "refashioned the bar to be a haven for people who like beer and words in equal amounts. (To wit, the name of the bar is taken from an autobiographical Charles Bukowski character.) The stage in the back room will now be put to use at a weekly Wednesday-night literary open mike, a comedy open mike on Thursdays and other bookish events, and the sandwiches on the menu are named for maverick authors and poets." On Mondays, beer- and book-lovers get an added treat inherited from the bar that preceded it: bacon, all you can eat.


Congratulations to Debra Ginsburg, one of Shelf Awareness's regular book reviewers, who had the good fortune to have her new novel, The Grift, be reviewed in yesterday's New York Times. The paper wrote in part, "For anyone who seeks an escape between two covers in these last few weeks of summer, Ms. Ginsberg's new book makes for far less ominous beach reading. The Grift is a gift with no strings attached, no dark outcome to dread, a satisfyingly voyeuristic vision of a mysterious stranger's supernaturally charged fortunes."

And don't miss Marilyn Dahl's commentary on Debra and The Grift, which she called "a story of illusion, fraud, reality and redemption, with a bang-up ending" (Shelf Awareness, July 24, 2008).


You may have thought Margaret Atwood's LongPen was the latest thing in author autograph avoidance, but, according to the Guardian, "One smart publisher seems to have devised a way of easing the pain for the millionaire bestseller writer: they have posted an advert on the listing site, Craigslist, inviting a team of part-time workers to fake the signatures and get paid in cash for the privilege. . . . The New York-based blog Gawker, which spotted the advert, has been unable to ascertain the identity of the publisher, or the authors involved."


Familia Bookstore, which includes a small cafe, opens today in Wallingford, Conn., and will stock primarily Catholic and Christian books, DVDs, rosaries and other spiritual items, the Meriden Record-Journal reported. The store, which has a small cafe, is owned by Jose and Evelyn Robles.


Never try to swim against the Crimson Tide, especially in Alabama. Books-A-Million said customer demand at its stores persuaded Forbes magazine to reprint 10,000 copies of the issue with University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban on the cover. The September 1 issue of the magazine sold out in 10 minutes at BAM's Alabama stores last Friday, the company reported.


"Like Kafka, But With Better Clothes" was the headline for a fashionista graphic novel (complete with brands and prices) in New York magazine's Fall Fashion '08 section.



Soho Press: The Seep by Chana Porter

Help Build a Clinic in Mali!

Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Maliby Kris Holloway, published two years ago by Waveland Press, is an account by a former Peace Corps volunteer about Monique, a midwife in Mali whom she befriended and assisted until Monique died in childbirth. In honor of Monique, Holloway has dedicated her royalties from the book to help build a clinic in Mali. She has also been fundraising while doing book events and online and has nearly $40,000 for the clinic and equipment for it.

The book was a Book Sense and Barnes & Noble reading group pick, and the author has been interviewed on NPR's Here and Now. In addition, the Literary Ventures Fund did a promotion with LibraryThing, encouraging more people to read and review the book.

Now, in another small but nice extra push, several book bloggers--Natasha who blogs on Maw Books and Jen at Devourer of Books--will, for every comment made on their blogs about Monique and the Mango Rains, contribute $1 toward the clinic--up to $50, "enough to pay for a set of medical instruments," as Holloway's website puts it. Devourer of Books recently doubled what she will contribute.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Providence by Max Barry

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Lisi Harrison at Laguna Beach Books

Tonight on ABC's Nightline: Lisi Harrison, author of the Clique series, who is interviewed, along with some of her young fans, at an event at Laguna Beach Books, Laguna Beach, Calif. Harrison is a Laguna Beach resident and wanted to show her support of independent bookstores.


Tomorrow on NPR's On Point: Doris Lessing, author of Alfred and Emily (Harper, $25.95, 9780060834883/0060834889).


This Weekend on Book TV: The Wrecking Crew

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 23

8 a.m. Gene Healy, author of The Cult of the Presidency: America's Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power (Cato Institute, $22.95, 9781933995151/1933995157), contends that Americans increasingly look to the presidency for solutions, resulting in a damaging expansion of executive power. (Re-airs Sunday at 1 p.m. and Monday at 1 a.m.)

11 a.m. An author panel filmed earlier this year at BookExpo America in Los Angeles that included Ted Turner, Azar Nafisi, Dennis Lehane and John Hodgman.

8 p.m. Encore Booknotes. For a segment that first aired in 2000, Zachary Karabell, author of The Last Campaign: How Harry Truman Won the 1948 Election (Vintage, $14, 9780375700774/0375700773), detailed Truman's tactics and how they led to post-election problems.

10 p.m. After Words. Jeanne Cummings interviews Thomas Frank, author of The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule (Metropolitan Books, $25, 9780805079883/0805079882), who argues that conservatives value the free market more than effective government. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m., and Sunday, August 31, at 12 p.m.)
Sunday, August 24

12 a.m. Alexandra Harney, author of The China Price: The True Cost of Chinese Competitive Advantage (Penguin, $25.95, 9781594201578/1594201579), takes a critical look at China's success in attracting foreign investment. (Re-airs Sunday at 9:30 a.m.)
1:15 a.m. Six-term Democratic congressman Robert Wexler, author of Fire-Breathing Liberal: How I Learned to Survive (and Thrive) in the Contact Sport of Congress (Thomas Dunne Books, $25.95, 9780312366445/0312366442), describes his experiences representing Florida. (Re-airs Sunday at 10:45 a.m.)


Movies: Bilbo Baggins Finds His Screen Scribes

The eight-month search is over for a screenwriter to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, and it ends back where it started. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro decided "that no one is better suited for the task than they are. Del Toro, who is directing the movies, will team with . . . executive producer Jackson to adapt the J.R.R. Tolkien book and write its follow-up. Also joining them in the writers room are Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, both of whom collaborated with Jackson on the Rings trilogy."

The two films "will be shot simultaneously, with principal photography tentatively set for a late-2009 start. New Line and MGM hope to release Hobbit in 2011 and its sequel the following year."


Books & Authors

Children's Book Review: Masterpiece

Masterpiece by Elise Broach, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Holt, $16.95, 9780805082708/0805082700, 304 pp., ages 10-15, September 2008)

Broach's (Shakespeare's Secret) middle-grade novel layers a miniature world (on two levels), a passion for art, a mystery and a friendship into a highly satisfying reading experience. Marvin, a beetle who lives with his large extended family beneath the Pompaday family's kitchen sink in New York City, wants to do something special for the human James's 11th birthday. After some deliberation and a great amount of effort, Marvin delivers a buffalo nickel to the boy's room. But he finds himself pulled to the pen-and-ink set on James's desk--a gift from the boy's artist father, Karl Terik. Marvin uses his two front legs to make an intricate drawing of the scene outside the boy's window, and its superior quality attracts a great deal of attention, not only from James (who immediately befriends the talented beetle), but also from the boy's keen-eyed mother, his stepfather and also Karl, who exclaims that it's very similar to the work of Albrecht Duerer. Karl takes his son to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to witness the resemblance for himself; and the boy tucks Marvin into his jacket pocket so he can come along. There they run into Karl's college friend, Denny, curator of drawings at the Getty Museum. What follows is an intricate plot to catch an art thief, putting to work James's purported talent. Broach makes the most of Marvin's beetle's-eye view of the world, for both its practical applications (the ease with which he finds hiding places) and the humor it affords (concerning James's raucous birthday party guests, Marvin's mother cautions, "These are the kinds of boys who'd pull the legs off a beetle just for the fun of it"). Murphy's illustrations also exploit these opportunities: One standout is when she pictures James's face, his nose and mouth obscured as he observes Marvin copying Duerer's drawing Fortitude. Best of all, Broach creates a wonderful parallel between the book's two overarching and interconnected themes: "A great friendship was like a great work of art, [Marvin] thought. It took time and attention, and a spark of something that was impossible to describe."--Jennifer M. Brown


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