Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, October 29, 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!


In Support of Booksellers Everywhere

I am the manager of an independent bookstore (who wishes to remain anonymous), and I want to express my agreement with Ann Dorough of Barnes & Noble [who wrote to us yesterday]. I am tired of independent booksellers constantly expressing their intellectual superiority over chain booksellers. There are smart people in all occupations, and there are not enough independent bookstore jobs to go around. I can testify personally that some of my own booksellers occasionally fail to give adequate service. Every independent store is different, and there are differences in quality of service among individual chain stores as well. It depends largely on the management on the spot. Furthermore, some independent bookstore owners are, to put it mildly, unpleasant to work for, and reasonable people who want to work in a bookstore are better off working in a chain store in many cases.
I'm not saying that independents are not on the whole a better choice. Independent businesses are the bulwarks of local communities, and the chainification of America is a dismal development. But let us not kid ourselves constantly about our individual superiority for that only leads to complacency. Complacency is not a pathway to success in this economy in particular.


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


Notes: Dicho's Opens in Dallas; Rivendell Buys Building

Dicho's, which emphasizes Latino books, furniture and garden supplies and has a store in Gainesville, Tex., has opened a second store, in the Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff in Dallas, according to Pegasus News. The owners are Jorge Alvarez and Gilbert Barrola.

The paper reported: "Bookcases featuring a range of genres from coffee table books to New York bestsellers to Home and Garden are tucked alongside finely crafted chairs, tables and couches which are all for sale." The store has a large children's area, free wi-fi and a cafe.


The owners of Rivendell Book Store, Junction City, Kan., are purchasing downtown Abilene's historic Case building, which currently houses the vintage Fashion Museum. According to the Reflector-Chronicle, Marilyn Thurlow and Shari Strauss, who also run Picture This and Picture This Plus, will "take over the building's ownership on Dec. 15. However, they wanted to allow time for the Fashion Museum to be open during the holiday season and give [current owners Ed and Lynda Scheele) and Fashion Museum staff time to properly store the historical artifacts. Thurlow said they plan to reopen their three businesses in March 2009."

"This is a gorgeous building," Thurlow said. "This building has so much character. . . . We've always wanted a building with character so that when you walk into it you feel good about it."

The Reflector-Chronicle added that "another Junction City businesswoman plans to open a branch coffee bar that should complement the operation."


Tiffany Jordan, children's book buyer and floor manager for Grass Roots Books & Music, Corvallis, Ore., was interviewed by the Gazette-Times about her life as both bookseller and gardener. "Book selling is my profession," she said, "but gardening is my passion."


The Twin Cities Daily Planet featured an interview with Coffee House Press publisher Allan Kornblum, who said of his company's 25th anniversary next year: "What is exciting is that we're not just planning to celebrate our past achievements. We're looking to the future. We're beginning a strategic planning process focused, in part, on leadership transition, to assure continuity long beyond my participation. Books we've already published will stay in print, and new authors will continue to have a resource. During the planning process, we'll be exploring ways to extend our love for the best traditions of typography and bookmaking into the new electronic era."


Effective January 1, Sirak & Sirak Associates, a Mid-Atlantic rep group headed by Jim Sirak, and Billbooks & Associates, a New England rep group headed by Bill Palizzolo, are merging. The new group, covering the book trade in the 11 northeastern states as well as Washington, D.C., will be known as Northeast Publishers Reps (NPR). In addition to Jim Sirak and Bill Palizzolo, the group also includes Lisa Sirak, Frank Porter and Alan Spiegel.


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

Image of the Day: National Reading Group Month in New York

Debut novelists Anisha Lakhani (Schooled), Dalia Sofer (The Septembers of Shiraz) and Anya Ulinich (Petropolis) were among the writers featured Monday evening at the New York Center for Independent Publishing during an event celebrating National Reading Group Month, an initiative of the Women's National Book Association. They were joined by Elizabeth Strout (Olive Kitteridge) and Alice Mattison (Nothing Is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn). Some of the participants: (above, from l.) Lakhani, Ulinich and Mattison.

Besides reading from their works, the scribes entertained the audience with humor and insight into their stories--including Ulinich, who said, "There is so much about the immigrant experience that's funny, but it's dark humor." Like her novel's main character, Sasha, whom she described as "a female Borat," Ulinich left Russia to live in the U.S.

The event was moderated by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, authors of The Book Club Cookbook and The Kids' Book Club Book.--Shannon McKenna Schmidt

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

AAP, Authors Guild and Google Settle

Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers have reached what they call a "landmark settlement" that ends the suits filed by the Guild and five members of the AAP against Google concerning the Google Book Search program. That program involves Google's digitization of major library collections, including millions of books and other written material currently in copyright. The deal is subject to approval by federal district court.

As part of the agreement, Google will pay $125 million to establish an independent, not-for-profit Book Rights Registry, which will, the parties to the agreement said, "resolve existing claims by authors and publishers and . . . cover legal fees." The Register will also "locate rightsholders, collect and maintain accurate rightsholder information, and provide a way for rightsholders to request inclusion in or exclusion from the project." In addition, "holders worldwide of U.S. copyrights can register their works with the Book Rights Registry and receive compensation from institutional subscriptions, book sales, ad revenues and other possible revenue models, as well as a cash payment if their works have already been digitized."

As the Wall Street Journal put it, the settlement "clears the way for the Internet giant to make many millions of digital books available on the Web, with payments to authors and publishers for their use [and] will let individuals and institutions buy online access to copyrighted, out-of-print works through Google, and will provide free online views of them at public libraries.

"Current titles will be available only if publishers and authors agree to include them."

Some four to five million titles of the seven million Google is estimated to have scanned are out of print but still in copyright, according to the New York Times. Until now, Google has made only snippets of such texts available, but will now make up to 20% of the text available at no charge. The whole text will now be available for a fee, and universities, libraries and other organizations can buy subscriptions to that make their collections available.

Google will take 37% of revenue with the rest going to publishers and authors, the Times continued. Google will split related ad revenue on the same basis.

Some $45 million of the $125 million Google is paying will go to compensate authors and publishers whose books were already scanned by Google.

The parties wrote: "The agreement promises to benefit readers and researchers, and enhance the ability of authors and publishers to distribute their content in digital form, by significantly expanding online access to works through Google Book Search, an ambitious effort to make millions of books searchable via the Web. The agreement acknowledges the rights and interests of copyright owners, provides an efficient means for them to control how their intellectual property is accessed online and enables them to receive compensation for online access to their works."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Fussy Eaters' Recipe Book

Now on WETA's Author, Author!: an interview with Karin Slaughter, author of Fractured (Delacorte, $25, 9780385341950/0385341954).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Annabel Karmel, author of The Fussy Eaters' Recipe Book: 135 Quick, Tasty and Healthy Recipes That Your Kids Will Actually Eat (Atria, $23, 9781416578765/1416578765).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Francine Prose, author of Goldengrove (Harper, $24.95, 9780066214115/0066214114). As the show put it: "Francine Prose is full of surprises in speaking of her newest novel. It's narrated by a thirteen year-old girl whose sister has drowned. It looks like a conventional coming-of-age through-emotional-hardship book. Why, then, does Prose say her heroine reminds her of (surprise #1) Anne Frank? Why does she say the plot is modeled on (surprise #2) Hitchcock's Vertigo? Stay tuned."


Tomorrow night on the Late Show with David Letterman: Mary-Kate Olsen, author of Influence (Razorbill, $35, 9781595142108/159514210X).


Movies: Angels & Demons Sneak Preview

Billing it as "the follow-up film to The Da Vinci Code," USA Today offered a "First Look" at Angels & Demons, promising that the adaptation of Dan Brown's earlier novel "will fly faster than Da Vinci."

Although The Da Vinci Code eventually "collected $758 million worldwide," USA Today noted that "even [producer Brian] Grazer says the movie moved a little slowly. Angels, by contrast, sprints from crypts, catacombs and cathedrals."

"I think we may have been too reverential toward it," Grazer said regarding the film adaptation of Brown's mega-bestseller. "We got all the facts of the book right, but the movie was a little long and stagey." By contrast, in Angels & Demons, which is scheduled to open May 15, "[Robert] Langdon doesn't stop and give a speech. When he speaks, he's in motion."


Books & Authors

In Memoriam: Tony Hillerman

A tribute to Tony Hillerman, who died on Sunday, from Craig Johnson, author of Another Man's Moccasins and Kindness Goes Unpunished, among other titles:

There was an owl on one of the teepee poles at my ranch last night and, if you're lucky enough to live adjacent to Indian Country, you pay attention to such things. The Cheyenne see the owls as messengers from the other side, and I couldn't help but wonder who it was that was sending something a little more than special delivery.

I always thought he looked a little like an owl, even before I met him. The way the tufts of hair perched up on his head and the pointed nose--but most of all, it was the eyes; not so much the eyes of an eagle because those carry a self-concern, but more like the eyes that see past self-interest.

He was 83, and he lived in Albuquerque with, in his own words "now-and-then rhematic arthritis, in-remission cancer, a minor heart-attack, a mediocre eye, one tricky ankle and two unreliable knees." He began teaching at the University of New Mexico in 1967 and, with a wife and six children, he struggled to make ends meet. The story goes that he was typing away in his office late one night and an associate enthused, "You must be the hardest-working professor we have here at the University."

He looked up with the twinkle his eyes always carried, his glasses perched at the end of his nose. "Actually, I'm writing a book."

Undaunted, the woman remarked. "How wonderful, what's it about?"

"It's a mystery."

She was crest-fallen. "With all your knowledge of Navajo art, culture, society and history--why are you wasting your time writing a mystery novel?"

His response, like the man, was eloquent and authentic. "Because I want someone to read the darned thing, that's why."

I was fortunate enough to win a short story award in combination with the writing conference that is named after him and Cowboys & Indians Magazine. He'd written 17 books in his series when I met him, was a New York Times bestselling fixture, and had won every award you can imagine. I'd written one novel and was facing the daunting task of trying to write my second, so I asked him how you keep it fresh. He smiled the small grin that reflected the admiration, adoration, and respect that everyone had for him. "At the risk of sounding like a bad sports analogy, you gotta write 'em one at a time--and just remember to tell a good story." It is invaluable advice.

At a time when you usually have to beg most big-time authors to remember what it was like when they were climbing up the ladder, he wrote me a blurb for not only my first novel, but my second, because he said he'd enjoyed them so much. I still have the voice message on my answering machine where he read the jacket quote because his e-mail was on the fritz. "Umm, Craig, I can't get this e-mail thingy to work, so I thought I'd just call you and tell you what to put on your book."

One of the last times I saw him was when he was being feted at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. They gave him their Life Achievement Award, and the hall where he was interviewed was standing room only, and the line to have him sign his books was about a mile long. He was a storyteller whose owl-like eyes saw further than the genre and farther than himself.

Perhaps the best words to describe his legacy are those of his protagonist Jim Chee, "Everything is connected. The wing of the corn beetle effects the direction of the wind, the way the sand drifts, the way the light reflects into the eye of man beholding his reality. All is part of totality, and in this totality man finds his horzo, his way of walking in harmony, with beauty all around him."


Book Brahmin: Stewart O'Nan

Stewart O'Nan was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pa., and worked as an aerospace engineer before turning to writing.  He is the author of a dozen novels, including Snow Angels, A Prayer for the Dying, The Good Wife and Last Night at the Lobster. His latest novel, Songs for the Missing, is being published this month by Viking and has been praised by Dennis Lehane as the "best novel I've read all year."
On my nightstand now:  

Alice Munro's Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. Next up, Woolf's To the Lighthouse, then Evan S. Connell's Mrs. Bridge. And then Alice Munro's Selected Stories, because you can't have enough Alice Munro.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Alfred Hitchcock's The Three Investigators and the Mystery of the Green Ghost. Three boys, led by the roly-poly Jupiter Jones, run a makeshift detective agency out of an old trailer buried in a scrapyard.

Your top five authors:

Shakespeare, Chekhov, Tolstoy, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King.

Book you've faked reading:

Does skimming count? In that case, Pynchon's Mason & Dixon.

Book you're an evangelist for:  

The True Detective by Theodore Weesner. An unsettling yet moving story of a kidnapping in Portsmouth, N.H.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The movie tie-in paperback of Breakfast at Tiffany's with Audrey Hepburn on it.

Book that changed your life:

So Long, See You Tomorrow
by William Maxwell.

Favorite line from a book:

"The reason life is so strange is that so often people have no choice."--William Maxwell, So Long, See You Tomorrow.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:  

The Stand by Stephen King.


Book Review

Book Review: The Howling Miller

The Howling Miller by Arto Paasilinna (Canongate Us, $14.00 Paperback, 9781847671813, October 2008)

Here's an unusual and delightful novel with all the fierce independence, drier-than-dry humor and grumpy good-heartedness that are quintessentially Finn, packed with dozens of great scenes, including how to get your savings out of the bank with a shotgun.

Moody Gunnar Huttunen has been ruined by a fire that took his mill and the life of his wife. Now he's bought the old mill on the Suukoski rapids, and already he's got the saw working. He's tall, lean and handsome, not to mention a strong and skillful miller, but he's got an unusual quirk: sometimes at night, particularly in winter, he feels a need to howl. He just has to do it--long, hearty, wolf-like howls that drive the dogs crazy and keep the village up all night. Then a few powerful, wealthy villagers decide something has to be done.

Escaped from a mental hospital, pursued by the police and the military, Huttunen becomes a legendary renegade hermit, befriended by the loveable old constable and the drunken postman, dearly beloved by the pretty 4H adviser who's always feeding him vegetables and hated by the wealthy farmholders who are given permission by the police chief to shoot to kill.

Part-Robin Hood, part-Robinson Crusoe, Huttunen is such a likeable, down-to-earth character that it's no surprise Jesus Himself even deigns to have a chat with him, drolly offering advice on the best way to start a fire in a church He never really much liked.

Writing with deadpan starkness and a mythic simplicity, Paasilinna propels the reader forward on a lean narrative line that almost defies you to try to stop reading. You're too busy chuckling as you anxiously turn the pages, concerned about a loveable eccentric who seems to have stepped straight out of legend and to be heading straight for hell.

Endings separate a craftsman from a genius. As a reader, I was a nervous wreck through the book's final third, worrying about the inevitable outcome of Huttunen's brave little rebellion against society. When the governor sends in the military, how can one man honestly stand against it? Let me put all fears permanently to rest: this fearless and defiant little novel builds to an uncompromising, utterly unexpected and completely satisfying end.--Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: Written with deadpan starkness and mythic simplicity, The Howling Miller tells the story of a delightful Finnish eccentric who becomes a legendary renegade, beloved by some, pursued by others.


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