Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Atria Books: The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

Minotaur Books: The Safe Place by Anna Downes

Margaret K. McElderry Books:  The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay

Doubleday Books: The Anthill by Julianne Pachico

The Overlook Press: Read the work of Charles Portis

Workman Publishing: We Are Called to Be a Movement by William Barber

IDW Publishing: The Mueller Report: Graphic Novel by Shannon Wheeler and Steve Duin

Getty Publications: Finding Dora Maar: An Artist, an Address Book, a Life by Brigitte Benkemoun, translated by Jody Gladding

Random House: How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue


Notes: Rowling Blocks Lexicon; Penguin's eSpecial

A federal judge in New York City has ruled on the side of J.K. Rowling®, author of the Harry Potter series©, in her suit against librarian Steven Jan Vander Ark and RDR Books concerning The Harry Potter Lexicon(no©), a book based on a website that the author had maintained for some time. According to the New York Times® and ©, Judge Robert P. Patterson Jr. found that "plaintiffs have shown that the Lexicon copies a sufficient quantity of the Harry Potter series to support a finding of substantial similarity between The Lexicon and Rowling's novels."

The judge blocked pubiication of the book, and Rowling and co-plaintiff Warner Brothers® won $6,750 in damages.

In a statement, RDR Books commented: "We are encouraged by the fact the court recognized that as a general matter authors do not have the right to stop the publication of reference guides and companion books about literary works. As for The Lexicon, we are obviously disappointed with the result, and RDR is considering all of its options."

For her part, Rowling issued the following statement:

"I took no pleasure at all in bringing legal action and am delighted that this issue has been resolved favourably. I went to court to uphold the right of authors everywhere to protect their own original work. The court has upheld that right.

"The proposed book took an enormous amount of my work and added virtually no original commentary of its own. Now the court has ordered that it must not be published.

"Many books have been published which offer original insights into the world of Harry Potter. The Lexicon just is not one of them."


The New York Times surveys children's bookstores in Manhattan, mentioning Books of Wonder ("a children's bookstore with a conscience") and the Bank Street Bookstore ("slightly more cerebral") but giving the most e-ink for the Scholastic store, run by the publisher.

The store features a magic bus, a dinosaur and a 16-ft. high Clifford cutout along with all the Harry Potter one can devour. The Times continued: "The SoHo store has an added attraction that others do not: celebrities. Perhaps because of its location, the SoHo store seems to hold a strange attraction for the famous, who have always dropped by since it opened about six years ago."


Today Penguin Group is publishing its first Penguin eSpecial, in this case an electronic version of the prologue that former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan wrote for the paperback edition of The Age of Turbulence, which also goes on sale today.

The eSpecial costs $5 and is available in Sony Reader, Amazon Kindle, Adobe Acrobat and other formats. Future eSpecials will update nonfiction titles. Prices will vary.

In a statement, John Fagan, eBooks marketing director at Penguin, said, "With the eSpecial, Penguin will have the ability as a publisher to provide eBook readers with the most current and up-to-date information as it unfolds. In this launch case, we know that many who read the hardcover or eBook edition of The Age of Turbulence would be interested in the new material written by Dr. Greenspan without having to buy the whole book again."


In another unusual joint project, Penguin Classics and the Union of Concerned Scientists are inviting aspiring authors and photographers to submit "their personal stories and images about global warming" for a new online book, Thoreau's Legacy: American Stories about Global Warming, which the Union will publish next year.

Potential contributors will submit a 200- to 500-word account of global warming--for example, a place they want to protect or steps they are taking to stem global warming--or can send an appropriate photo. Winning submissions will be included in the online book and in a limited-edition hardcover edition. Contributors can submit material to The deadline is November 15.

The company is providing booksellers easels and free bookmarks to publicize the project, which will also be supported by a print and online publicity campaign, a 25-city radio satellite tour and national and trade advertising.


From the "Don't Worry, Be Happy" Dept.

The Los Angeles Times offered a list of "happiness books" that have been published in recent months. According to Margot Schupf, associate publisher for Collins Publishing Group, "We're seeing more books on happiness because the market hasn't been satiated on the subject and because the documentation behind happiness is so much better. Authors are beginning to report real science and aren't just talking about a warm, fuzzy feeling."


Amy Tan: The Opera. Stewart Wallace's The Bonesetter's Daughter will have its world premiere September 13. The work, commissioned by the San Francisco Opera, was inspired by both Tan's novel as well as her birthday.

Bloomberg reported the opera "started as a short work that Wallace wrote in 2002 to honor the 50th birthday of a friend, the writer Amy Tan. To personalize it, he used the first lines of her novel The Bonesetter's Daughter, a book he hadn't even read at the time." Later he did read it, and the rest is, or soon will be, music history.



Amulet Books: Fox & Rabbit by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Gergely Dudás

We Bought a Zoo Roars into Stores

Benjamin Mee will share the spotlight with a few furry, four-legged fans when he appears at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, Ohio, later this month to promote his new memoir, We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals that Change Their Lives Forever (Weinstein Books, 9781602860483/1602860483, $24.95). The animal entertainment is courtesy of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, which is co-hosting the event with Joseph-Beth.

The British scribe's stateside tour takes him from coast to coast during the next two weeks to bookstores and other venues. "We wanted to target markets with great zoos--and bookstores with great zoo relationships within those markets," said Katie Finch, director of publicity at Weinstein. Like Joseph-Beth, Tattered Cover in Denver, Colo., and Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops in Milwaukee, Wis., are holding in-store events and partnering with area zoos to tout Mee's memoir and draw in crowds. In Albuquerque, N.M., Mee will speak at the Rio Grande Zoo, with staff from Bookworks on hand to sell copies of his memoir.

In We Bought a Zoo, Mee--a former newspaper columnist and animal behavior specialist--shares the story of his family's move in 2006 to an unusual new home: a wildlife park in the English countryside, where a menagerie of Siberian tigers, African lions, brown bears and other animals awaited them. As they worked to refurbish the zoo, they also had to contend with a personal tragedy: the terminal illness of Mee's wife, Katherine, to whom the zoo was dedicated when it reopened in 2007 as the Dartmoor Zoological Park.

Mee's story is resonating with staff at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. "We have had feedback from zoo employees who have read the book and loved it," noted Joseph-Beth events coordinator Barbara Hudson. "We're hoping to see that translated into buzz from customers. Our staff is behind it as well." The zoo is promoting Mee's September 23 appearance at Joseph-Beth to its 42,000-household membership base. Store-sponsored advertisements are airing on a local NPR station in conjunction with a regular informational segment done by the zoo's director, Thane Maynard, and Mee will be a guest on the show the day of the event.

Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops has had a close working relationship with the Zoological Society of Milwaukee for years, noted Nancy Quinn, Schwartz's marketing director, and it was a natural decision to team up and promote We Bought a Zoo. "It certainly helps us spread the word if we go through our traditional bookselling audience and also the target audience for the book, in this case zoo supporters," said Quinn.

We Bought a Zoo was featured in the society's "Wild Things" newsletter, which reaches some 53,000 households. A reminder e-mail will be sent to more than 34,000 members shortly before the September 22 event, which is being held at Schwartz's Brookfield store, the Schwartz location closest to the Milwaukee County Zoo. In addition, Quinn is reaching out to attendees at the annual conference of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which is being hosted in Milwaukee the week prior to Mee's appearance.

Mee's tour kicked off last night at R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn., and this morning he appeared on CBS's Early Show. Other stops for Mee include Barnes & Noble in Princeton, N.J., Powell's City of Books in Portland, Ore., University Bookstore in Seattle, Wash., the PNBA and MPIBA trade shows and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, where he will be interviewed live by Thomas Curwen of the Los Angeles Times.

Will readers heed the call and take an interest in Mee's memoir? "We've found that almost without exception, people who learn about Ben's book respond with interest and empathy," remarked Finch. Targeting zoo members is a way to reach readers likely to already have an interest in the topic, but the appeal of We Bought a Zoo seems to be farther reaching. "Given the inspiration of the story, it could make a nice holiday book," said Hudson, "and have sustainability through the season."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt


Berkley Books: I Was Told It Would Get Easier by Abi Waxman

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jamie Lee Curtis

This morning on the Early Show: Benjamin Mee, author of We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals That Changed Their Lives Forever (Weinstein Books, $24.95, 9781602860483/1602860483). He also appears tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show.


Today on Talk of the Nation: Stanley Fish, author of Save the World on Your Own Time (Oxford University Press, $19.95, 9780195369021/0195369025).


Tomorrow on NPR's Tell Me More: Moustafa Bayoumi, author of How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America (Penguin Press, $24.95, 9781594201769/1594201765).


Tomorrow on the View: Jamie Lee Curtis, author of Big Words for Little People (Joanna Cotler, $16.99, 9780061127595/0061127590).


Tomorrow night on Larry King Live: Meghan McCain, author of My Dad, John McCain (Aladdin, $16.99, 9781416975281/1416975284).


AuthorBuzz for the Week of 02.24.20

Books & Authors

Awards: New England Book Awards

The winners of the 2008 New England Book Awards, sponsored by the New England Independent Booksellers Association and recognizing "New England authors and publishers who have produced a body of work (not just a specific title) that stands as a significant contribution to New England's culture," are:

  • Fiction: Alice Hoffman
  • Nonfiction: Nathaniel Philbrick
  • Children's Books: Tomie DePaola
  • Publishing: Down East Books, Rockport, Me.

The awards will be presented Thursday, September 18, during the NEIBA annual meeting and trade show in Boston, Mass. Each author award is accompanied by a $500 grant from NEIBA to a literacy or other charitable organization chosen by the winner.


Berkley Books: Eliza Starts a Rumor by Jane L. Rosen

Attainment: New Books Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, September 16:

Indignation by Philip Roth (Houghton Mifflin, $26, 9780547054841/054705484X) follows Marcus Messner, a college student fearful of ending up in the Korean War.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, translated by Reg Keeland (Knopf, $24.95, 9780307269751/0307269752) is a thriller about the disappearance of a teenage heiress, told many years later, that delves deeply into Swedish society.

Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency by Bart Gellman (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594201868/1594201862) examines the unusually secretive yet influential Vice President.

The Other Queen: A Novel
by Philippa Gregory (Touchstone, $25.95, 9781416549123/1416549129) follows Mary, Queen of Scots during her years in captivity.

Guinness: World Records 2009 (Guinness, $28.95, 9781904994374/1904994377) includes 3-D glasses and 20 pages of 3-D pictures, perhaps a record.

Paul of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (Tor, $27.95, 9780765312945/0765312948) continues Frank Herbert's Dune series.

Real Life: Preparing for the 7 Most Challenging Days of Your Life
by Dr. Phil McGraw (Free Press, $26.99, 9780743264952/0743264959) gives advice for coping with troubling events.

Before You Do: Making Great Decisions That You Won't Regret by T.D. Jakes (Atria, $25, 9781416547280/1416547282) outlines methods for making sound relationship decisions.


Third Man Books: Nine Bar Blues by Sheree Renée Thomas

Mandahla: The Journal of Jules Renard

The Journal of Jules Renard edited and translated by Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget (Tin House Books/PGW, $16.95 paperback, 9780979419874/0979419875, September 2008)

Tin House Books has reissued the 1964 edition of The Journal of Jules Renard, and the question arises, why has it been unavailable for so long? It's not a new question; in her introduction, Louise Bogan says it is difficult to understand why Renard's work has been almost totally neglected in England and the U.S.

Begun in 1887 when Renard was 23, the journal spans 24 years, and is quite long. This current distillation of his prose omits much but is still "a mine of inexhaustible riches." He believed that truth about life had been distorted by literature, and "applied himself to correct [that] by an analysis based on sympathy, warmth, and tenderness. The peasants of his countryside were as important to him as his Parisian colleagues . . . animals were his familiars."

While the journal can be read from beginning to end, it is also a pleasure to sample the short vignettes and epigrams at random:

To lie watching one's mind, pen raised, ready to spear the smallest thought that might come out. (1887)

As sad to watch as someone you love disappearing into the fog. (1894)
(On the death of his difficult father): Return to Paris. My father and I did not love each other outwardly. We did not hang together by our branches: we loved each other by our roots. (1897)

Failure is not the punishment for laziness: there is also the success of others. (1898)

This woman had loved so much that when you drew close to her you could hear, in the delicate shell of her ear, the far-off rumor of love. (1904)

If I were to begin life again, I should want it as it was. I would only open my eyes a little more. I did not see properly, and I did not see everything in that little universe in which I was feeling my way. (1906)

The dripping countryside. Raindrops threaded on narrow branches. Now and then, in a sweep of light, the sun slowly wipes dry a field, a village, a wood. (1906)

The cat asleep, well-buttoned into its fur. (1905)

Literature is an occupation in which you have to keep proving your talent to people who have none. (1909)
Poetic, amusing, instructive, melancholic--Renard's writing should find its way to the shelves of writers and lovers of fine writing. How ideal to have sentences like this at hand: "In the path, the caterpillar plays a soundless little tune on its accordion."--Marilyn Dahl

Catapult: Magnetized: Conversations with a Serial Killer by Carlos Busqued, translated by Samuel Rutter

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Listening to Ancestral Voices in Bookstores

Several years ago, in Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris cited these words from Mechtild of Magdeburg, a Cistercian nun and medieval mystic: "Stupidity is sufficient unto itself. Wisdom can never learn enough."

If ever there was an area in bookstores meant for exploration, learning and questioning, the spirituality section would seem to be it, as a quick scan of our shelves will reveal. I concede that not everyone agrees with this theory. I may even envy their certainty, but, as so many booksellers have already noted here, stocking books representing an array of beliefs is the way most bookshops meld spirituality with merchandising.

And yet, even if we begin with a literary sense of inclusiveness and spiritual innocence--William Blake's "To see a world in a grain of sand, / And a heaven in a wild flower"--how can we cram infinity into our decidedly limited, temporal shelf space?

The answer, of course, is that we're booksellers and we always find a way to expand both space and time. According to Valerie Ryan, owner of Cannon Beach Book Company, "I have read with interest the ongoing discussion of the place of religious books in our stores: to proselytize or to ignore? In my case, I chose a different route. Cannon Beach, Ore., is a town of 1,600 people year-round and about a bezillion visitors from Memorial Day to Labor Day. One end of town is anchored by a Christian Conference Center of the Fundamentalist stripe. The rest of town is typically West Coast, unchurched and a bit peevish about organized religion.

"I long ago devised a section named 'Philosophies,' encompassing every imaginable religious persuasion. Being the product of a good Jesuit education, I do know the difference between philosophy and theology, but for ease of display, I just play dumb and put Kant next to Why I Am a Catholic. I have all the Desert Fathers, two versions of the Qu'uran, two Kaballah, a Book of Mormon, Chesterton and Merton and C.S. Lewis galore and many others Protestant, Jewish and a few lesser known sects. In this section also go the current spate of books on irreligion or anti-religion. This arrangement either offends no one or everyone, but it works for me."

On the other hand, as a used book buyer and seller, Diane Van Tassell of Bay Books in San Ramon and Concord, Calif., notes that she carries "books that I might not necessarily order from Baker & Taylor. But Christian, Buddhism, Islam and New Age are very big sellers for us. Sometimes certain of those sections are less popular, but a month or two later they are 'hit hard' again. A couple of years back the witchcraft section was very popular, especially in my more urban store.
"We can't keep the Koran in the store because it flies out whenever we get one. Sufism is always popular as are the poems of Rumi. We have a customer who comes in several times a week looking for different Buddhist books and sometimes Hinduism. The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is always a favorite text. Angels and mediums are not so popular now and UFOs are almost dead--yes, we keep that all in religion. Dreams and astrology are popular mostly when they are at eye-level, but they go in cycles. People still ask for Under the Banner of Heaven (Mormon true crime) and a very few are into the Da Vinci secret societies that were very popular a few years ago. Religious fiction is becoming quite popular. Authors like Francine Rivers always sell and the Yada Yada Prayer Group (novels) are gaining in popularity. The Left Behind series by LaHaye has slowed down, but some are still reading it. Bibles are always big sellers and C.S. Lewis seems to be the most popular author. The bottom line is that religion is still popular. More and more people are reading religious fiction because they want to read stories that don't include sex and violence."

And my last word on this series about bookstores and religion? I think I'll defer to Graham Greene's A Burnt-Out Case, in which Querry considers why he still watches a Mass being said in an African leper colony. He is slightly removed from the chapel, yet close enough to hear the indistinct hum of ceremony.

"Ancestral voices," he concludes. "Memories. Did you ever lie awake when you were a child listening to them talking down below. You couldn't understand what they were saying, but it was a noise that somehow comforted."--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


AuthorBuzz: Blackstone Publishing: Willa's Grove by Laura Munson
Powered by: Xtenit