Shelf Awareness for Friday, November 14, 2008

Random House Graphic: Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger

Tor Books: Deal with the Devil: A Mercenary Librarians Novel by Kit Rocha

Wednesday Books: The Mall by Megan McCafferty

Houghton Mifflin: The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey


Notes: More Bookselling in Tough Times; New Store

This week's installment in the Bookselling in Tough Times series in Bookselling This Week focuses on loss control. Three booksellers tell BTW how they identify and limit theft. In another story, three different booksellers outline specific marketing steps they're taking in their stores.

Among those strategic steps: Village Books, Bellingham, Wash., is holding its annual after-hours party for VIP customers earlier in December in an effort to stimulate shopping earlier; Island Books, Middletown, R.I., will likely hold a storewide sale the weekend before Thanksgiving "to give good customers a bargain in these hard times"; and among other things, on Black Friday, Changing Hands, Tempe, Ariz., plans to "create a detour from the chains" by offering bagels and mimosas, gift card sales and a coupon for 15% off one item (those using the coupon are entered into a raffle for gift cards--raffles are popular among customers).


According to Bookselling This Week, the keynote event at the American Booksellers Association's fourth annual Winter Institute, to be held January 29-February 1 in Salt Lake City, Utah, will be a discussion about the state of the book industry, featuring Morgan Entrekin, president and publisher, Grove/Atlantic; Nan Graham, vice president, editor-in-chief, Scribner; and Bob Miller, president and publisher, HarperStudio. The moderator is Roxanne Coady, owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers, in Madison, Conn.


Even before the Next Chapter bookstore, Knoxville, Iowa, opened its doors for the first time Monday, community response was "overwhelming," manager Annie Leonard told the Journal Express. The inspiration for the new store came in July, when "Leonard and Tresa Mott were talking about how nice it would be if Knoxville had a book store. Before they realized it, things were in motion and now, a few months later, the store is open for business," the paper wrote, adding that the bookshop's name "serves as a metaphor for Knoxville. Mott and Leonard believe the opening of this business is the beginning of the next phase of Knoxville's history."
The Next Chapter is located at 202 E. Robinson St., Knoxville, Iowa 50138; 641-828-7323;


Seven-year-old Burke's Books, Park Ridge, Ill., is on the move. The store will close its old location Thursday, November 20, and re-open Friday, November 28, on 10 Prairie Ave. at Main Street "just in time for Park Ridge's annual Winterfest and the holiday shopping season," according to the Herald-Advocate.

Owner Pat Willoughby believes the move makes sense financially and will expand options for events and programs. "We will obviously be able to do a lot more marketing and events like author signings because it will be much more reasonable for us to afford," she said. "The objective always was to keep an independent book store in the community, and the fact that we are still able to do that in a new location--which is just down the block--is a great thing."


Book-em, bookseller! A thief attempting an early-morning robbery at Literary Life Bookstore & More, Grand Rapids, Mich., fled the crime scene after he was confronted by a bookseller who lives in the building, the Grand Rapids Press reported.


Congratulations to Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse, Atlanta, Ga., which is celebrating its 15th birthday tomorrow with "refreshments, great music, and plenty of friends." The store, which "began as an idea posted on a community bulletin board in 1993 [and] is now the South's premiere GLBT landmark," is also supporting a protest tomorrow against California's Proposition 8 vote at the Georgia Capitol and a candlelight vigil following.


One of the few current books about Miriam Makeba, who died on Monday and will soon have a state funeral in South Africa, is a 2004 hardcover, coffee table autobiography, Makeba: The Miriam Makeba Story by Miriam Makeba in Conversation with Nomsa Mwamuka, published by STE Publishers in South Africa and distributed here by Independent Publishers Group ($42.95, 9781919855394/1919855394). The book, with many photographs, chronicles the life of the singer and human rights activist, including her time in the U.S., friendship with Harry Belafonte, marriage to Stokely Carmichael, life in Guinea, her homecoming to South Africa, her work as a goodwill ambassador to the U.N. and the foundation of the Makeba Rehabilitation Centre for Girls, Midrand, South Africa. 


Early next year, and Penguin Group will launch the second annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, an international competition seeking "the next popular novel."

Between February 2 and 8 next year, writers with an unpublished English-language novel manuscript can submit their work to Up to 10,000 entries will be accepted, from which Amazon editors will select 2,000. Reviewers from Amazon will then cull the best 500 of these 2,000 entries. Reviewers from Publishers Weekly will then select 100 from that group. Out of those 100, Penguin editors will choose three finalists. At that point, authors Sue Grafton and Sue Monk Kidd, literary agent Barney Karpfinger and Penguin Press editor-in-chief Eamon Dolan will read and post critiques of the three finalists on Amazon customers will then have seven days to vote for the winner, who will be announced on May 22. The grand prize: a publishing contract with Penguin and a $25,000 advance.

Last year's winner was Bill Loehfelm whose Fresh Kills was published by G.P. Putnam's Sons in August. But he wasn't the only winner. Penguin liked the quality of four other top 10 novels enough to acquire them: Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan (to be published by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam in July 2009); The Wet Nurse's Tale by Erica Eisdorfer (G.P. Putnam's Sons, August 2009); The Butterflies of Grand Canyon by Margaret Erhard (Plume, January 2010); and Casting Off by Nicole Dickson (NAL, August 2009).


Camille March has been appointed editor at Black Dog & Leventhal. She was formerly associate director of publicity at Weinstein Books and earlier worked in publicity at Grove/Atlantic, Putnam and Riverhead. Before that she spent three years as a buyer and bookseller at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, Wash.


GLOW: Other Press: Serenade for Nadia by Zülfü Livaneli, translated by Brendan Freely

Craig Popelars, Workman's Bookstore Man

As part of the changes made recently at Workman and Algonquin, Craig Popelars, Algonquin's director of marketing, a job he continues to hold, has also been appointed Workman's director of marketing for the retail book trade, a new position.

As the company put it, he will act as Workman's "voice to independent retailers--drumming up support, enthusiasm and high-octane merchandising program through e-newsletters, staff presentations, galley mailings and trade shows." He will be based in Chapel Hill, N.C., where Algonquin offices are, and spend time in Workman's New York City office every other week.

"My role will be to convey to booksellers and readers the excitement and energy that Workman brings to books," Popelars told Shelf Awareness. "We have a really strong sales force--what I'm doing directly with retailers supports the sales reps' efforts. They go in and sell and champion the lists while my job is to sell them off the shelves."

Not surprisingly for anyone who knows him, Popelars said, "I want to have fun with it," particularly considering the differences between the Algonquin and Workman lines. For example, he said, "I'm not expecting Potty Caddy [a toilet training kit for parents and toddlers] to be a top 10 Indie Next pick. But there are many fun ways to promote it, maybe using a Joe the Plumber angle."

Happily for fans of his informative and entertaining newsletter, Algonquin Annotations, Popelars plans to launch a newsletter for Workman that will have "a different look and feel" and may make its debut in January.

He called visiting stores "the most exciting part of the job" and said he enjoys "getting to know the front line booksellers, who are the movers and shakers. My philosophy is to go beyond the buyers."

He added that in a time when many publishers are cutting back, "It's great that Workman is making an investment in and commitment to retailers."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: A Tender Thing by Emily Neuberger

New Owners, New Horizons for L.A.'s Mystery Bookstore

Why would anyone want to buy an independent bookstore today?

For Kirk Pasich and Pam Woods, new owners of the Mystery Bookstore, Los Angeles, Calif., it's a labor of love--and a window of opportunity.

"We are big book lovers," said Woods, who described herself as "a recovering lawyer." "We love the idea of continuing an independent book store with ties to our local community, where we live and our children have grown up and are growing up."

"Community" is a key element in Woods's and Pasich's plans for the store, which has been in Westwood since it was founded in 2000. The new owners will celebrate the store's next chapter by throwing a daylong open house tomorrow, November 15. The schedule includes appearances by four mystery authors: Ona Russell, debut novelist Dorothy Howell, Larry Karp and global bestseller Katharine Neville.

"There are people in Westwood who do not know the store is here," Woods said. "Many first-time visitors love the store and return time and time again. So we want people to know we're here. Given that we are two blocks from UCLA, we'd like to have more Bruins visit us. We'd also like to increase the number of author visits and expand our relationships with our customers." The store plans to add more special events to its already busy calendar.

While acknowledging that "this is not an easy environment for an independent bookstore," Kirk Pasich said, "we have something special. Our people know their books.  They know the authors. They know our customers."  

Longtime store manager Bobby McCue and assistant manager Linda Brown, who also serves as the store's children's book buyer, are continuing in their positions. "It all starts with Bobby and Linda, but everyone here cares about books and people and a good story," Pasich said. "As an independent bookstore, we can offer that personalized touch--plus limited editions, collectibles and books signed by the authors."

Los Angeles without a mystery bookstore would be unthinkable, Woods said, but she and Pasich plan to define "mystery bookstore" broadly. "We have a wide range of mysteries, but also feature children's books, pop-up books, suspense, action and thriller books and a wide range of fiction that might fall outside of the mystery label but for some mystery elements."

The new owners plan to put their experience in other industries to use at the store, particularly in strategic planning. Pasich founded a small law firm that is now the Los Angeles office of a national law firm; Woods was a journalism major at Stanford and has worked in public relations and as a freelance writer. "We think these experiences will help," Woods says.  "But Bobby and Linda are continuing with us, and they have great knowledge, experience, and relationships. Thus, while we might be new to the bookstore business, we are surrounded by many others who continue with the store and who have the knowledge. We plan to build upon that."--Ellen Lamb

Lamb is a writer, editor and researcher in Gardiner, Me.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Deep by Alma Katsu

Image of the Day: Third Place's 10th

On Monday, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, Wash., held its 10th birthday party, which included a proclamation read by Mayor Dave Hutchinson and appearances by authors Ann Rule, Nancy Pearl, Kerry Colburn, Jeffrey Deaver, Ivan Doig, Carol Doig, Alexandra Day, Donna Anders, Jim Lynch, Chris Santella and Bill Thorness. Happy hosts were (l. to r.) owner Ron Sher and managing partner Robert Sindelar.

Photograph: Paul Gjording.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Phelps on 60 Minutes

On Sunday on 60 Minutes: Michael Phelps, multiple Olympic gold medalist and author of No Limits: The Will to Succeed (Free Press, $26, 9781439130728/1439130728).

Also on 60 Minutes: Cathleen Lewis, author of Rex: A Mother, Her Autistic Child, and the Music that Transformed Their Lives (Thomas Nelson, $24.99, 9781595551504/1595551506).


HBO Orders Pilot for A Game of Thrones

HBO has ordered a pilot for A Game of Thrones (Spectra), the first book in George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The series should consist of seven books. If HBO takes the series, the producers intend for each novel to encompass a season, the paper said.

Executive producers are David Benioff (who besides many screen credits is the author of A City of Thieves), D.B. Weiss and Guymon Casady. Benioff said, "Fantasy is the most successful genre in terms of feature films given the incredible popularity of the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies. High fantasy has never been done on TV before, and if anybody can do it, it's HBO. They've taken tired genres and reinvented them--mobsters in The Sopranos and Westerns with Deadwood."


Books & Authors

Awards: Roald Dahl Funny Prize

Winners of the inaugural Roald Dahl Funny Prize were named at an awards ceremony in London yesterday and presented with checks for £2,500 (US$3,700). The two books honored were:
  • Funniest Book for Children Aged Six and Under: The Witch's Children Go to School by Ursula Jones, illustrated by Russell Ayto (Orchard Books)
  • Funniest Book for Children Aged Seven to Fourteen: Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear by Andy Stanton, illustrated by David Tazzyman (Egmont Press)

Michael Rosen, who chaired a panel of five judges that included Sophie Dahl--granddaughter of the legendary author--said, "Children love funny books but when adults draw up lists of the best books they nearly always leave the funny ones out. When I became the Children's Laureate, I said that my job should be as an ambassador for fun. That's why I came up with the idea of this funny prize, all part of the job!"


Mandahla: Gift Books

Early Japanese Railways, 1853-1914 by Dan Free (Tuttle Publishing, $65, 9784805310069/4805310065, November 2008)

Perhaps not the most esoteric gift book published this fall, but this comes close; for train and history buffs or for the person who likes unusual topics (they look so impressive on the shelf), Early Japanese Railways is a fascinating selection. Its subtitle is Engineering Triumphs That Transformed Meiji-Era Japan; the Meiji Era was a period of rapid modernization, and the development of railways was pivotal. Author Free first sets the historical stage, placing isolated Japan in political context; within 10 years of Perry's "opening" of Japan in 1854, the first commercial railway was in operation. There is enough information here to satisfy the historian, but the old maps, postcards, drawings and dining car menus are a definite bonus for the more visually-oriented. Tinted and black-and-white photographs are abundant, and some, like a Tokaido Line mixed train crossing a bridge over moonlit water or the block print of a Yokohama-bound night train by Inoue Yasuji are worthy of an art book.

The Dancer Within: Intimate Conversations with Great Dancers by Rose Eichenbaum (Wesleyan University Press, $29.95, 9780819568809/0819568805, July 2008)

Rose Eichenbaum wanted to be a dancer, but marriage and motherhood interrupted her plans. Her dream never completely died, and in her 40s she decided to use her camera as a way to reenter the dance world. The result is 40 interviews, accompanied by photographs of dancers dancing and in repose. The interviews are, for the most part, homey and intimate--Rose always seems to be asked in for coffee or offering coffee herself. This apparent ease with her subjects somewhat belies her determination to get an interview but attests to her empathy with the dancers, like Leslie Caron ("The morning of our scheduled meeting, Paris was dark and chilly."); Barrie Chase ("What does it feel like to dance with Fred Astaire?" "It spoils you."); Robert La Fosse, mourning the end of his dancing ("You're like a stranger in a strange land. You have to earn to cohabit with non-dancers."). He didn't miss the glory, he missed the routine, the striving for perfection. Leonard Crofoot, who created a one-person show, Nijinsky Speaks, was asked why the life and art of Nijinsky is relevant today; he said, "Nijinsky went insane. Find a way not to." Dudley Williams, who spent 41 years with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, talked about those who try to imitate him: "My movement originates in my heart. I can't teach others what's in my heart." That echoes the common theme--the love of dancing and the need to dance.

In Defense of Our Neighbors: The Walt and Milly Woodward Story by Mary Woodward (Fenwick Publishing Group, $24.95, 9780974951072/0974951072, September 2008)

This elegantly-produced book filled with photos and memorabilia is a testament to courage and principles and a cautionary tale about civil liberties--and the ease with which those liberties can disappear. The author's parents, Walt and Milly Woodward, were newspaper publishers on Bainbridge Island, just west of Seattle, at the start of World War II. The island was 10% Japanese-American, and the Woodwards protested vehemently but unsuccessfully against the internment of their Japanese-American neighbors. The Woodwards helped the community's struggle with the results and after the war, did much to smooth the way home for the returning islanders. If some of this story sounds familiar, it's because David Guterson used it as a backdrop for Snow Falling on Cedars. He says in his foreword to this book, the Woodwards were "two people who believed in themselves without any narcissism," who believed in the Constitution, democracy and the dignity of people. In Defense of Our Neighbors is not only the story of the Woodwards, it's a history of a time and actions that we must never forget, especially in this age of fear.

Transylvania by Bronwen Riley, photographs by Dan Dinescu (Frances Lincoln, $60, 9780711227811/0711227810, April 2008)

Bronwen Riley begins with this: "When I was young, I dreamed of stepping back in time. I longed to find the magic wardrobe or secret passage that would spirit me to a distant age." Riley found her wish granted years later when she traveled to Transylvania, a place that seems not just old-fashioned but of another world. "Romania is the last place in Europe that despite, or perhaps because of, its recent past still retains some of that magic." There is only a hint of it now; Riley says that capitalism and European Union membership will wipe out in a few years what Communism failed to do in 50. What is left? Churches and villages and the countryside with flora and fauna lost in Western Europe years ago--that is the country that Riley and Dan Dinescu present so well. A wooden farm in the frost-covered Carpathians, sorbet-colored houses in the fortified town of Sighişoara, a plum brandy still (under threat from E.U. law), fragments of a 15th century church wall painting, red-roofed Bran castle--the photographs are captivating. One first comes to this book with an interest in the pictures, but the text is just as enchanting.--Marilyn Dahl


Book Brahmin: Patrick Taylor

Born in 1941 and brought up in Ireland, Patrick Taylor managed to hoodwink the examiners sufficiently in Belfast in 1964 and London in 1969 to become a physician and then a specialist ob/byn. He spent 31 years in Canada teaching at a series of universities and churning out a string of research papers, more remarkable for their quantity than quality. These led to a misapprehension that his chosen genre was science fiction . . . at least according to a set of scientific peer reviewers. Because so many people laughed at his research (Infertility Treatment in the Lowland Gorilla, [Gorilla G Gorilla]), he turned his hand to writing humour columns for medical and sailing magazines in 1989, a pastime he follows to this day.

In 2001, he retired to write full-time and published the first in his Irish Country series, An Irish Country Doctor, in 2007. The third, An Irish Country Christmas, is being released this month by Thomas Doherty/Forge Books. Now living in the Republic of Ireland with his partner, oil painter Dorothy Tinman, he is working on the fourth book in the series in those rare moments when he is not in one of the local pubs enjoying the craic and giving truth to the old adage, "a bird cannot fly on one wing." His pub penchant perhaps explains why he initially thought we were inviting him to a rodeo, having misread Brahmin as Brahma ("Even if I am full of it, I'm not big enough to be a bull."). For more, go to

On your nightstand now:

Memoir by John McGahern. The autobiography of a well-known Irish writer who grew up in the village where I live. He captures rural, bygone Ireland with a vividness I will never achieve. Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard. The film was intriguing, and I've always enjoyed Ballard's writing.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Doctor Dolittle series by Hugh Lofting, who for some peculiar reason I was convinced was called Huge Lofting. Who could not love a pig called Gub-Gub or the Pushmi-pullyu, a two-headed antelope?

Your top five authors:

Only five? How mean. Any author whose books I read and reread is a favourite. Five? All right. Dickens, for his dialogue. Mark Twain, for his humour. Graham Greene, for his stark ability to bring a scene alive with absolute economy of words. C.S. Forester, for his simple yet evocative stories of a time gone by. And Oscar Wilde, for his humour and for the lyricism of his children's stories.

Book you've faked reading:

The Woodlander by Thomas Hardy. Required school reading to pass an exam. It was so turgid I bought a set of cheater's notes . . . and passed. (The Da Vinci Code is a very close runner up.)

Book you're an evangelist for:

Shogun by James Clavell. Masterly storytelling, fantastic evocation of mediaeval Japan and after six years of mispronunciation, I can now say Showgoon properly.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Lady Chatterly's Lover. The red margin, white cover Penguin edition with the phoenix rising from the flames was so eye catching it leapt off the shelf. Isn't that why everybody bought it in 1961 after the obscenity trial? And Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian. I've been a fan of his and the art of Geoff Hunt ever since.

Book that changed your life:

The Citadel by A.J. Cronin. The story of a young doctor. I read it when I was considering going into medicine. I think it clinched it for me.

Favorite line from a book:

"What the hell kind of a name is Yossarian?" Lieutenant Scheisskopf had the facts at his fingertips. "It's Yossarian's name, sir," he explained.--Joseph Heller, Catch 22

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

The Year of the French by Thomas Flanagan. A lovingly detailed account of the doomed rising in 1798 of the United Irishmen stiffened by two regiments of French soldiers who landed at Killala in County Mayo. The prose is poetically wrought and the story told so evocatively that the reader is taken there to live through another of Ireland's tragic failures.


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