Shelf Awareness for Monday, August 25, 2008

Balzer & Bray/Harperteen: The Night Is for Darkness by Jonathon Stutzman, illustrated by Joseph Kuefler and Greenwillow Books: Lone Wolf by Sarah Kurpiel

Forge: Lionhearts (Nottingham, 2) by Nathan Makaryk

Zonderkidz: Pugtato Finds a Thing by Sophie Corrigan

Kensington Publishing Corporation: The Suicide House (A Rory Moore/Lane Phillips Novel #2) by Charlie Donlea

Del Rey Books: Malorie: A Bird Box Novel by Josh Malerman


Notes: Thriving and Suffering in a Difficult Economy

In a slumping economy, people "don't have to buy books," but the East Valley Tribune found that in the Phoenix, Ariz., metropolitan area, "small business owners seem to be faring better than the 'big box' stores. Personalized service that provides more value to cash-strapped customers, knowing community likes and dislikes and having the flexibility to make and execute decisions on the spot give the small shops big clout in an increasingly difficult economy."

Gayle Shanks, co-owner of Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, noted that while sales of new hardcover books were down, paperback and gift item sales had increased, and "used book sales are topping the charts. Thirty-five years ago we started as a used bookstore, so our heart is in used books and recycling."

She attributed the success in hard times to several factors: "People require more of a store than product. It's hard to part with dollars (in a down economy). You have to provide a good experience. If your store is clean, beautiful, interesting and fun, when people come in, they get value."

The Poisoned Pen bookshop, Scottsdale, is having its "best summer in years," according to owner Barbara Peters. "I was sure as the economy soured, we'd see growth, and we did. It's all about the personal touch."


The story of how Angela Davis-Gardner's novel Plum Wine found its audience is intricately linked to Nancy Olson, owner of Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, N.C., whose efforts as an advocate for the book were chronicled recently in the News & Observer.

When Olson read Plum Wine, published in a limited print run by University of Wisconsin Press in 2006, "I was blown away. I liked Angela's other two books, but this one was so far beyond them in terms of depth, complexity and literary quality. It was one of the most beautifully written books I'd ever read."

Olson contacted agent Liz Darhansoff, wrote to other independent booksellers and sold 1,200 copies. "That's what the independent bookstores can do," Olson said. "We can handsell. The publishing world is so mundane, full of thrillers, erotic vampire novels, genre books. It was great to have a high quality literary book to push."

Plum Wine "has gone through seven printings and sold 57,000 copies," the News & Observer continued. "But had it not been for Olson, Davis-Gardner believes the book would have sold the 1,000-copy press run and nothing more."


The Free Press aims to make a holiday splash with Built to Succeed, a book by Michael Phelps, in which the Olympic star will "reveal the secrets of his success, taking us behind the scenes of his approach to training, competition, and winning," according to the publisher. The book will appear in December.

Free Press added that the Built to Succeed's "narrative thread" will be Phelps's eight final swims of the Beijing Olympics. "The book will include insights from the games, the pool and the team, giving readers an up close view of world-breaking competition. Phelps will also tell anecdotes about his family, his coach, his passion for the sport, and lessons learned from unexpected challenges and obstacles."

There is also a 2005 title, Michael Phelps: Beneath the Surface co-written by Phelps and Brian Cazenueve (Sports Publishing, $18.95, 9781596703520/1596703520), which is being reissued in paperback on Thursday. 


After a local association polled residents and found that 75% of respondents want a bookstore in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, N.Y., a group called the Fort Greene Indie Bookstore Initiative has talked at length with Jessica Stock Bagnulo, who has long wanted to open a bookstore in Brooklyn. (See her blog A Bookstore in Brooklyn: The Triumphs and Travails of a Book Nerd Becoming a Businesswoman. She also blogs at the Written Nerd.)

The result: with the support of the Initiative, Bagnulo, who is events and publicity coordinator at McNally Jackson Books in New York City and a graphic novel columnist for Shelf Awareness, plans to open a store in Fort Greene. Earlier this year, Bagnulo won the 2007 Brooklyn Public Library PowerUp! Business Plan Competition for her business plan to open a bookstore (Shelf Awareness, January 26, 2008). The prize included a $15,000 grant.

To raise awareness and rally community support for the venture, the Initiative is hosting an event at the Cumberland Greene (237 Cumberland Avenue in Fort Greene) 7-9 p.m. on September 16. The event will feature local authors and complimentary beer, wine and hors d'oeuvres from local businesses. Please RSVP to


Senator Joe Biden, now Barack Obama's running mate, has rejoined the book campaign, too: his Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics, originally published by Random House last summer, is being released in paperback within "a week or so," Tom Perry, deputy publisher of Random told the Associated Press.

Until Saturday's announcement, the book did about as well as Biden's original presidential campaign. Perry commented: "Bringing out the hardcover last year during the hectic lead-in to the primaries didn't help the book because it was perceived by some to be a campaign tool. It's actually a fine and moving memoir."


On the eve of the Democratic Convention, USA Today asked Tamra Monahan, manager at the Tattered Cover Book Store, Highlands Park, Colo., and contributing writer for Colorado's Best: The Essential Guide to Favorite Places, to suggest "10 great places in Denver."


Bookselling This Week surveyed Denver and Twin City stores to see what they were doing specially for the party conventions. One standout idea. The Tattered Cover has a display, done in conjunction with the Rocky Mountain Land Library, of a "reading list for the President-elect." General manager Matt Miller told BTW that the list is "by a handful of Western writers whom we asked: 'What Western books would you urge on the next inhabitant of the White House? What do they need to know about our region, and where can they find information, inspiration, and guidance?' " Among the authors who made suggestions: George Sibley, Barry Lopez, Rick Bass and Laura Pritchett.


For its part, Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, Colo., is hosting a range of events involving some of its authors who will be in town for the convention. For example, with the Denver Forum, Fulcrum is sponsoring a lunch for former Senator George McGovern, a Fulcrum author, that will include as guests Fulcrum authors former Senator Gary Hart, former Colorado First Lady Dottie Lamm, Chilean ambassador to the U.N. Heraldo Muñoz and Anita Thompson, wife of the late Hunter S. Thompson and author of The Gonzo Way.

The house will also be distributing to delegates and others copies of Fulcrum books, including Stop Global Warming by Laurie David, Gary Hart's examination of the future of U.S. national security, Under the Eagle's Wing; and Ambassador Muñoz's look at the Iraq War, A Solitary War.


"Tough times for some of Seattle's independent bookstores" was the Seattle Times headline for a piece on the demise of the Couth Buzzard used bookstore.

Seattle, the Times wrote, "has more bookstores per capita than any other city in the country . . . 174 at last count. But running a bookstore has always been an occupation for dreamers, and area independent stores have had to confront the realities of wresting a living from a low-margin business in an increasingly expensive town."


Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Lexington, Ky., appears to have made believers of Business Lexington, which reported, "It may be hard to imagine books being one of the main draws for an urban shopping center, but that seems to be the case at venerable Joseph-Beth Booksellers, a store that helps pull in shoppers to the Mall at Lexington Green off Nicholasville Road."

"Part of it is providing great customer service. The other part is providing a great area for people to come to and enjoy, not just to buy a book," said general manager Gary Cremeans. "We try to be really involved in the community and not be just another retail outlet."


Word is Out Women's Bookstore, Boulder, Colo., will host a "Word is Outta Here Party" for its customers on September 6, shortly before the bookshop's planned closing September 22, according to the Daily Camera.

"Because of the Internet and increased visibility of LGBT people, there's not quite as much of a dire need for stores like mine and for people to feel connected," said owner Louise Knapp. "Twenty years ago, or even 15 years ago, it used to be that bookstores were real lifelines for lesbians and for gays and feminists and people outside the mainstream. That's less the case now, and that's a positive thing."

Knapp said she has mixed feelings about closing the bookshop: "I'm definitely sad the store isn't really able to sustain itself, but it's been a really good experience for me and I've really learned a lot and I've enjoyed doing it. I wish that things were different, and I wish that local independent businesses--especially bookstores--were more viable, but with things the way they are, with chains and the Internet, it's just not possible."


The lease on the Strand Book Store's Fulton Street Annex has been extended through September. For New York City bibliophiles, this means that the 50% off sale on all stock, which is already discounted, continues.


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

In Memoriam: Doug Snow, Exeter Bookstore Manager

The Exeter Bulletin offers a thoughtful tribute to Doug Snow, longtime manager of the Exeter Bookstore at Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, N.H., who died earlier this year.

Under Snow's management, the Bulletin wrote, "the Exeter Bookstore became a friendly gathering place, not only for those buying books and supplies, but also for a number of lost souls, unhappy in the dormitory or in class or in sports, who found a warm smile and a pleasant word at the bookstore and came back for more. Doug ran an excellent bookstore, teaching his assistants to work independently, and always making himself available to them and the customers. His influence extended beyond Exeter. He was instrumental in founding the College Stores of New England and became its third president."

Jake Elwell of Harold Ober Associates noted to us that Exeter Bookstore is "where young John Irving, David Payne, Dan Brown and Chang-rae Lee and many, many other future writers would have purchased their textbooks. Likely their outside reading too, as the inventory, if small, was excellent. When I was at PEA in the early '80s, Tom Wolfe, Douglas Adams and John Kennedy Toole were in vogue--and Mr. Snow's shelves always had plenty of copies--along with campus pleasure reading mainstays like Salinger, Hemingway and John Knowles."


University of Minnesota Press: Listening: Interviews, 1970-1989 by Jonathon Cott

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Cacioppo on Loneliness

This morning on the Early Show: Melanie Charlton Fascitelli, author of Shop Your Closet: The Ultimate Guide to Organizing Your Closet with Style (Collins Living, $19.95, 9780061343810/0061343811).


This morning on the Today Show: David Zinczenko, author of Eat This Not That! for Kids!: Be the Leanest, Fittest Family on the Block! (Rodale, $19.95, 9781605299433/160529943X).


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Moustafa Bayoumi, author of How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America (Penguin Press, $24.95, 9781594201769/1594201765).


Tonight on the Colbert Report, in a repeat: Dick Meyer, author of Why We Hate Us: American Discontent in the New Millennium (Crown, $24.95, 9780307406620/0307406628).


Tomorrow morning on the Early Show: Carol Alt, author of This Year's Model (Avon, $13.95, 9780061366246/0061366242).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Anne Roiphe, author of Epilogue: A Memoir (Harper, $24.95, 9780061254628/0061254622).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Nina Garcia, author of The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own (Collins Living, $21.95, 9780061664618/0061664618).


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: John Cacioppo, co-author of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection (Norton, $25.95, 9780393061703/0393061701).


Tomorrow night on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Mia Tyler, author of Creating Myself: How I Learned That Beauty Comes in All Shapes, Sizes, and Packages, Including Me (Atria, $25, 9781416558606/1416558608).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Scott McClellan, author of What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception (PublicAffairs, $27.95, 9781586485566/1586485563).


AuthorBuzz for the Week of 06.01.20

Books & Authors

Awards: Engh Named Author Emerita

Mary Jane Engh, author of Arslan and Wheel of the Winds, among other books, will be honored as author emerita by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America during its Nebula Awards weekend in Los Angeles, Calif., next April 24-26.

In a statement, Engh said, "Well, I hope 'emerita' doesn't mean 'over the hill,' but I'm truly honored--blown away, in fact. It's nice to know that somebody has noticed me."

For more about Engh and her many works, check out her website.


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

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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


by Nilita Vachani (Other Press, $24.95, 9781590512852/1590512855). "Sweta Kalra's grandfather was a disciple of Gandhi, a commitment that resulted in his wife and children living in poverty for the greater good of India. Sweta's father was a fighter pilot, his conflict with Pakistan. In Vachani's novel, Sweta tries to come to terms with the pasts of her father and grandfather, and gives us a very different view of India."--Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, Ore.

A Spring Without Bees by Michael Schacker (Lyons Press, $24.95, 9781599214320/1599214326). "A must-read for anyone concerned about our food supply. What Rachel Carson did for the birds, Michael Schacker does for the bees."--Marilyn Scheer, East West Bookshop, Seattle, Wash.


Closer to Fine by Meri Weiss (Kensington, $14, 9780758226907/075822690X). "After the death of her brother--whom she cared for while he was dying of AIDS--Alexandra Justice's life spirals downward before a troupe of flamboyant friends drag her back to life--and new discoveries about old feelings. Weiss has a strong and talented voice that will resonate for readers."--Jackie Blem, Tattered Cover Bookstore, Denver, Colo.

For Ages 9 to 12

Great Ancient China Projects You Can Build Yourself by Lance Kramer, illustrated by Steven Weinberg (Nomad Press, $14.95, 9781934670026/1934670022). "Vocabulary, timelines, and sidebars are included in a fun, hands-on approach to educating young readers about ancient China. Cook egg noodles, make an instrument, create a kite, learn feng shui--what a fun book! Use it on weekends, holidays, and vacation to keep kids busy and having fun."--Lori Peters, Wild About Books, Clearlake, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Mandahla: Our Lady of Pain

Our Lady of Pain by Elena Forbes (MacAdam/Cage Publishing, $24.00 Hardcover, 9781596923164, January 2009)

Last year I received a galley of Elena Forbes's debut mystery, Die with Me, but read it long past the pub date, to my chagrin, since by then it was too late to review it. Now I get a second chance with Our Lady of Pain, which leads me to the question of what constitutes a satisfying mystery, which this is.

There are standard characters: West London Detective Inspector Mark Tartaglia is a tad exotic by way of his Italian heritage; his partner, Sam Donovan, is a woman recovering her nerve after happenings in the first book and has a bit of a crush on Mark; their cohorts are the usual array (the pathologist, with an office in the basement, listens to Wagner and has trouble getting coffee out of the vending machine). There are standard situations: Tartaglia is called away from a Sunday lunch at his sister's when a body is found in a snowy park; Sam isn't dressed for the weather; the dead woman was an art dealer with a secret life. What moves Forbes' writing beyond the ordinary is skill with details ("It had just started to snow again, although unconvincingly, tiny particles of ice fluttering on the air like leftover confetti."), effective but not dishonest plot misdirection and characters that one can readily visualize.

The body of Rachel Tenison is found in Holland Park, West London, bound and placed in a kneeling position, with a crumpled piece of paper in her mouth. The paper holds a fragment from "Dolores," a sadomasochistic poem by Swinburne. On the surface, Rachel seems a respectable, lovely, successful woman; as her placid surface is disturbed by the police, her darker side emerges. While Rachel's flat is expensively and tastefully done, it lacks a personality other than "hotel room," until they manage to unlock the chest at the foot of her bed (although the art photographs of naked, masked men in her office did give Tartaglia pause.) Some people, like her MP step-brother and her best friend, Liz, now have a few things to hide. A tip from a journalist complicates the investigation when he says there are similarities between Rachel's murder and that of a university lecturer a year earlier.

Rough sex, a brief tutorial on Swinburne, the friendship between Tartaglia and Donovan, plot tangles--all combine in a very good mystery from Elena Forbes. I hope she has another one due next year, although that is a long time to wait for the next Tartaglia-Donovan story.--Marilyn Dahl

Shelf Talker: A well-plotted mystery about a murdered art dealer--cool and sophisticated, but with a hidden life. Deft characterizations and sharp writing make this a satisfying read.



Midwest Reconnection

In our Midwest Connections story on Friday, we inadvertently moved the bookstore called the Kaleidoscope: Our Focus Is You. Despite our efforts, the store remains in Hampton, Iowa. Our apologies!


AuthorBuzz: Revell: An Appalachian Summer by Ann H. Gabhart
AuthorBuzz: Radius Book Group: The 24-Hour Soup Kitchen: Soul-Stirring Lessons in Gastrophilanthropy by Stephen Henderson
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