Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Simon & Schuster: Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era by Jerry Mitchell

Sfi Readerlink Dist: Sesame Street: The Monster at the End of This Book: An Interactive Adventure by Jon Stone, adapted by Autumn B Heath

Minotaur Books: The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James

Tor Books: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

DK: Free Pack of The Wonders of Nature Wrapping Paper - Click to Sign Up!

Editors' Note

Handsell Us: Business and Finance Books

For a story on business and finance books that help explain the Wall Street mess and related topics, we invite booksellers and librarians to send us notes about such titles that they are handselling or otherwise promoting. Best address is here. Thank you!


G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers: The Best of Iggy by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sam Ricks

Quotation of the Day

'Mamet to Pinter to Beckett'

"All my life I followed the things that I liked--people, things, books--and when things were offered to me, I published them. I never did anything I really didn't like. I had no set plan, but on the other hand we sometimes found ourselves on a trail. For example, out of Beckett came Pinter, and Pinter was responsible for Mamet. It was like a baseball team--Mamet to Pinter to Beckett.

"Should we have had more of a business plan? Probably. But then the publishers that did have business plans didn't do any better."--Barney Rosset in a New York Times profile on the occasion of the lifetime achievement award that the National Book Foundation is giving him November 19.


KidsBuzz for the Week of 10.14.19


Notes: Espresso Brewing in Australia; Mayor Howorth

Angus & Robertson Whitcoulls, which earlier this year bought Borders's operations in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, has set up the first Espresso Book Machine in Australia, according to Bookseller and Publisher Online. The company aims to install 50 more such POD machines in Australia and New Zealand in the next year.

Besides titles in the public domain, A&R is offering some books under copyright by arrangement with publishers. A&R managing director Dave Fenlon told Bookseller and Publisher that the company wants to be able to offer some 100,000 titles on the Espresso Machines by 2010.

The Espresso Book Machine was first introduced last year in North America in a handful of stores. For an account of one store's experience with it, see Shelf Awareness (March 9, 2008).

Incidentally A&R plans to open two new Borders stores in Australia.


The University of Mississippi, site of Friday's presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama, "has come far from its past," NPR observed in its profile of the city where "so much has changed since the turbulent integration of the college by African-American student James Meredith in 1962." Among the Oxford officials interviewed was Mayor Richard Howorth, described as "the once and future bookseller who's nearing the end of his two-term mayoral stint."

Howorth, who opened Square Books in 1979, said that Oxford's role in hosting the debate "means a lot of things. It's an affirmation to the university and the community and the state that we've taken a place in the center of the American political arena--with respectable qualifications. Instead of having to be visited by the national and international media because there is a race riot here."


Bookstores coming and going in Virginia. On the same day that the Staunton News Leader ran an article noting that the "Staunton Mall is looking with a hopeful eye toward the future following the recent departure of longtime resident Books-A-Million," the newspaper also featured a profile of Ron Ramsey, who recently opened Bookworks bookstore.

"It largely came from watching the other bookstores close," Ramsey said of his decision to become an indie bookseller. "I grew up going to the Bookstack, and with Books-A-Million leaving, I just thought we need to have a bookstore downtown. I'm trying to have something for everyone. Some people ask if I'm trying to fill a niche, but being the only new bookstore in town it would be a disservice to the community."

His best answer during the interview was to the question, "What was the last book you purchased?"

"I purchased about 3,000 of them," he replied.


Chapter One Books, Raritan Borough, N.J., has opened in a new location. reported that the used bookstore's "manager Tania Trovato, owner Rich Salfenmoser and other helpers spent the past few weeks packing thousands of used books from the West Main Street location in Somerville to bring to the store's new home, at 3 Somerset St. here."


The Concord Insider's "Shopinator" called on Annie's Book Stop, Concord, N.H., and came away impressed: "Are you seeing what we're seeing? A neat and organized used bookstore? Unheard of! And totally awesome."

--- has created an unusual category in the book world, one without a BISAC subject code: Wasilla Lit, that is, books by and about the Alaska town that is the hometown of Governor Sarah Palin, Republican nominee for Vice President.

AbeBooks wrote: "Forget about that Sarah Palin book banning controversy, this tiny town is a publishing powerhouse . . . well, perhaps not a powerhouse but it certainly leads the way in books about hunting. Aside from putting animals in the telescopic sights, 'Wasilla Lit' covers many parts of the book spectrum--there are publishers, a major cartoonist, and an optometrist who writes about his adventures. There's even an author from Wasilla writing about the post-modern meaning of modern life."

To see AbeBooks's top 10 Wasilla Lit titles, click here.


Confluence: A Celebration of Reading and Writing, which will be held October 14-19 in Moab, Utah, is celebrating the work of Edward Abbey, who wrote extensively about the region in books like Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang. The event will feature a number of writers who have been influenced by Abbey's work and life, including Doug Peacock, Katie Lee, Amy Irvine McHarg, Craig Childs and Jack Loeffler.

"It seems odd that Moab should be able to attract such well known names for a literary conference, but I think the unparalleled beauty of this place has something to do with it. Perhaps it also says something about the influence and popularity of Ed Abbey," said Laurie Collins, director of Confluence.


Congratulations to Frank Albanese, who has been promoted to senior v-p, supply chain, at HarperCollins, where he will be responsible for the adult and children's inventory management departments and lead the supply chain team. He continues to direct the consumer sales forecasting and planning and information services departments.

Albanese joined the company in 1994 and has been a leader in planning and forecasting at HarperCollins. He also built an internal reporting system that has helped the company meet sales and publishing goals.


GLOW: St. Martin's Press: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Media and Movies

Movies: Choke, Nights in Rodanthe

Opening this Friday, September 26:

In Choke, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk, Sam Rockwell stars as a con artist who pays for his mother's Alzheimer's care by pretending to choke in restaurants. The movie tie-in edition is available from Anchor ($14.95, 9780307388926/0307388921).



In Nights in Rodanthe, based on the book by Nicholas Sparks, Richard Gere stars as a doctor who falls for an unhappy married woman while travelling in North Carolina. Directed by George C. Wolfe. The movie tie-in is available from Grand Central ($12.99, 9780446691796/0446691798).


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Firewatching by Russ Thomas

Media Heat: Bob Schieffer's America

Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Woodson Merrell, author of The Source: Unleash Your Natural Energy, Power Up Your Health, and Feel 10 Years Younger (Free Press, $26, 9781416568162/1416568166).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: David Markson, author of The Last Novel (Shoemaker & Hoard, $15, 9781593761431/1593761430). As the show described it: "David Markson has invented his own 'personal genre.' His novels present collaged panoramas of the travails of art and artists--the bad reviews, the rivalries, the life-long neglect, the impoverished deaths. Markson's juxtapositions can be comic or tragic. Each anecdote is honed to perfection. How did he create his very special and specific form? Why has it finally won him the recognition that has eluded his work until now?"


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: newsman Bob Schieffer, author of Bob Schieffer's America (Putnam, $24.95, 9780399155185/039915518X).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Nicholas Carr, author of The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google (Norton, $25.95, 9780393062281/0393062287).


Arcadia Publishing: Stock Your Shelves!

Books & Authors

Mandahla: The Big O

The Big O by Declan Burke (Harcourt, $24, 9780151014088/0151014086, September 22, 2008)

Needing to deal with pre-election agita, I've been self-medicating with a lot of mysteries and thrillers (along with pinot noir, Tim's black pepper potato chips and prayer). The books have been uniformly good, and some have been outstanding, like the The Big O by Irish writer Declan Burke. If you are a Carl Hiaasen or Elmore Leonard fan, don't miss this dark, wacky story of bad people plotting bad things.

The Big O begins with a bang: Karen hits up a convenience store and nearly shoots Ray, who's there just to get a strawberry Cornetto from the freezer case. Naturally this leads to drinks, followed by lust and a wary meeting of minds. Rounding out the cast is Frank, an almost-disbarred plastic surgeon (his lawyer, explaining to Frank the spot of trouble he's in: "That malpractice suit isn't going away . . . even if you had it in writing, how that poor woman explicitly asked to look like Bob Mitchum, the jury'd take one look at the eyelids and--"); Frank's ex-wife Madge, who's also Karen's best friend; his current amour Genevieve, a shopaholic, withholding bimbo; and Karen's ex, Rossi, freshly out of prison, working on a con (a charity for ex-cons) and looking for his $60,000 from a previous job and the Ducati he thinks Karen has. Rossi styles himself after Cagney and starts his first week of freedom by ripping off an Oxfam store for a pinstripe suit with pink stripes, a red shirt, striped suspenders and a bottle-green tie ("Never in fashion, always in style," he says). Then there is Doyle, the cop who has a tough day trying to decide how to file her case-load--"alphabetically, chronologically or by stench"; and Anna, Karen's beloved one-eyed Siberian wolf. As for the plot, Ray happens to be a professional kidnapper, and Frank happens to want his ex-wife kidnapped to collect insurance money.

Burke's dialogue is spot on, as are his characters, even minor players like the Chinese storeowner in the initial hold-up who checks the time as he hands over the money, muttering he's just about to close, get on with it. Nobody can whimper like Frank (MASH's Maj. Burns comes to mind), especially after he hits the bourbon five or six times. Rossi is a nasty scumbag--why did Karen take up with him?--but he's hilarious in his attempts to articulate his world view. This is a biting, wickedly funny noir farce that builds to a knock-out ending.--Marilyn Dahl

Shelf Talker: A dark and crazy noir thriller about bad people plotting bad things, usually ineptly, often hilariously.


Grove Press, Black Cat: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Deeper Understanding

NAIBA Fall Conference in Cheery Hill

Wall Street may have been melting down, but the spirit and enthusiasm and wit among booksellers, reps and others over the weekend at the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association fall conference in Cherry Hill, N.J., made one forget about high (and low) finance for long stretches of time.

Several people suggested cash flow-squeezed bookstores and publishers might line up for the federal bailout. More seriously, others wondered how the holiday season would unfold: how lean will the supply chain be and how can the book business best position our products to customers who feel squeezed financially but want to provide entertaining, thoughtful and valuable gifts?

The two-day event featured extensive programming on Sunday and the trade show on Monday, which appeared to be a good combination, considering the solid attendance at workshops and a busy trade show floor the second day.


Among the many amusing and poignant acceptances:

The winner of NAIBA's legacy award, Morgan Entrekin, president and publisher of Grove/Atlantic, spoke eloquently about publishing and the future of the book, saying that "we need a diversity of voices" in the country and that books and booksellers offer that. Books, he said, "can do something no other media can" in teaching people about a range of topics and are "the basis of our culture and civilization. . . . They will be around for a long time." He also said that he had been "blessed" to lead the life and career he has, including his connections with many "bookseller friends."

Cecilia Galante, author of The Patron Saint of Butterflies and winner of NAIBA's children's literature award, spoke of the difficulties she had entering high school after growing up in a cult. Fleeing down a corridor in her new school, she opened a door and found herself in the library--and amazingly grabbed a copy of The Catcher in the Rye. Reading the book made her feel not so alone and made her want to be a writer. She choked up several times, as did many in the audience.

A.J. Jacobs, who NAIBA's nonfiction award for The Year of Living Biblically, word for word was probably the funniest person at the show and seemed to relish being among, as one person put it, "book nuts."

Two other comedians were Ann M. Martin and Brian Selznick, author and illustrator, respectively, with Laura Godwin of The Runaway Dolls, the third in the Doll People series. The pair spoke haltingly as they read from a script that aimed to sound spontaneous. They even enlisted one of the hotel staff to ask a question written on a paper she held high in front of her.

Robin Gaby Fisher, author of After the Fire: A True Story of Friendship and Survival, spoke and introduced one of the subjects of her book, Shawn Simons, a survivor of the 2000 fire in a Seton Hall University dorm that killed three other students. Simons' tale drew him a standing ovation.

Da Chen, whose new YA book is Forbidden Tales: Sword, said he was "honored to be in the same room with Oscar Hijuelos," but found it "no fair that Oscar is writing a YA novel. He's in the major leagues!"

Retired Colonel Jack Jacobs, whose memoir is If Not Now, When?: Duty and Sacrifice in America's Time of Need, said he had to write a funny memoir, otherwise it would be like so many retirees' stories, which he summed up as: "My head hurts, and all my friends are dead."


New and prospective booksellers in attendance included Lona D. Shields, owner/proprietress of Echo Books in Chester Springs, Pa., who opened her store in July. Echo offers new and used books, cards and gifts "with a healthy alternative feel." Echo is located at 1024 Pottstown Pike, Chester Springs, Pa. 19425; 484-341-8362; e-mail:

Jonah D. Zimiles is in the process of buying Goldfinch Books, Maplewood, N.J., and intends to make major changes. More on this as the story unfolds.

And Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, who gets ever closer to opening a store in Brooklyn and told us that she had been mentioned in Shelf Awareness too many times in the past week, was on hand--and now merits yet another mention in Shelf Awareness.


NAIBA president Joe Drabyak of the Chester County Book Company, West Chester, Pa., summarized some of the association's ongoing and new programs, including the "very successful" trunk shows; the book buddies program, done with Bookazine, that involves booksellers visiting a store and offering advice and commentary; the NAIBAhood gatherings ("we'll be doing more of these"); cooperation with AMIBA, the American Independent Business Alliance; among other initiatives. Drabyak sounded most proud of the association's role in New York State's new law that aims to make and other online retailers collect sales tax on sales to people in the state. "It's a great thing," he said. "And it's spreading to other states."

Drabyak also praised the recently founded Independent Booksellers of New York City (Shelf Awareness, September 11, 2008), which "had a successful launch at the Brooklyn Book Festival." Kelly Amabile of Book Culture was passing out copies of one of the group's first projects, an impressive map and listing of indies in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Congratulations to Margot Sage-EL, owner of Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, N.J., who was elected to the NAIBA board of directors.

A new program that is being tested exclusively with NAIBA comes from BookSpots, which produces book trailers and author profiles for the publishing industry. Under the program, NAIBA member bookstores can use the trailers and video profiles on their websites or e-mails or on video monitors in-store with a free, six-month subscription. Currently three videos are available for the NAIBA pilot program. BookSpots's Jason Calfo told Shelf Awareness that eventually the company hopes to expand nationally and create a range of videos--which would be available exclusively to indies the first 30 days. The videos are designed to "sell in a soft way," Calfo said.

Next year's NAIBA fall conference will be held Sunday and Monday, October 4 and 5, in Baltimore, Md. The 2010 fall conference will be in Atlantic City, N.J., Sunday and Monday, September 26 and 27.--John Mutter


Berkley Books: Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin

KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books:  Spies, Lies, and Disguise: The Daring Tricks and Deeds That Won World War II by Jennifer Swanson, illustrated by Kevin O'Malley
KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books: More Than a Princess by E.D. Baker
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