Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, December 2, 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: Weekend Sales; IndieBound Wishes; Drive-Thru Buyback

In its upbeat report on Black Friday sales performances by local retailers, the Fort Morgan, Colo., Times noted that Bonnie Newton, owner of the Book Nook had "a steady stream of customers into the early afternoon Friday."

"I think sales are going to continue on through the season," she said. "They started before Thanksgiving.


And in Gloucester, Mass., a Gloucester Times story about business on Main Street, quoted several relatively cheery booksellers. Bob Ritchie, owner of Dogtown Book Shop, said sales during the three days following Thanksgiving were "better than expected."

Janice Severance of the Bookstore called sales on Friday and Saturday "great" but called Sunday "pretty much a washout."

[For much more on bookstore sales over the weekend, see Robert Gray's column below.]


One well-timed change at the website is a wish list feature that allows users to build a list of books and e-mail it to friends or family along with a list of favorite bookstores--a not so subtle but graceful way of indicating what and where people can buy gifts for the sender.

Matt Supko, ABA's web content coordinator, extolled the "viral potential" of the lists, saying, "they empower 'true believers' to share IndieBound with friends and family at a time when those audiences will be most receptive to it."

ABA's chief marketing officer Meg Smith emphasized the importance of the wish list's recommended bookstores. "It's not just the gift you buy that counts," she said. "It's where you buy it."

In a related changed, has a new book search feature that returns two sets of results: books that match the search term as well as other information from the IndieBound Community and a link for purchasing the book from an indie.


Beginning Friday and lasting through next Wednesday, the Barnes & Noble at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Tex., will offer students a drive-thru textbook buyback option, according to the Daily Toreador.

B&N manager John Creed wrote to the paper: "Students will be able to drive into a parking lot, get greeted by a Barnes & Noble employee at their car window, sell their book while sitting in their drivers' seat, get their cash and leave without ever getting out of their car during the winter cold."

The program was created to deal with what students said was the "biggest pain in the butt" about buyback: finding parking.


GalleyCat showcased Random House sales Rep Ann Kingman's "11 Reasons for Booksellers to Blog."


The Christian Science Monitor noted that "Penguin Group asked the authors they publish what books they’d be either buying or hoping to receive this year" in a section called What to Give & What to Get


"Stunning science books" for holiday gift giving were recommended by USA Today.


"Bailout," perhaps inevitably, became Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year 2008 by receiving "the highest intensity of lookups on Merriam-Webster Online over the shortest period of time," according to The 2008 Top 10 list in full:

  1. bailout
  2. vet
  3. socialism
  4. maverick
  5. bipartisan
  6. trepidation
  7. precipice
  8. rogue
  9. misogyny
  10. turmoil


Tuttle Publishing is now the exclusive distributor in the Western Hemisphere for New Holland Publishers Australia. New Holland publishes titles in a range of nonfiction categories, including travel, biography, sports, true crime, self-help, gardening, food and natural history.

Among new titles this fall from New Holland: Who's the Dummy Now? by Terry Fator, winner of NBC's America's Got Talent. Earlier New Holland titles include Wildlife Warrior: Steve Irwin, 1962-2006, a Man Who Changed the World and Where's Bin Laden?, a picture book reminiscent of Where's Waldo?


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

Media and Movies

Media Heat: OMG, Txtng Xprt on Tlk o' Nation

Today on Oprah: Elissa Wall, author of Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs (Morrow, $25.95, 9780061628016/0061628018).


Today on Talk of the Nation: David Crystal, author of Txtng: The Gr8 Db8 (Oxford University Press, $19.95, 9780199544905/0199544905).


Today on the O'Reilly Factor: Steve Doocey, author of Tales from the Dad Side: Misadventures in Fatherhood (Morrow, $25.95, 9780061441622/0061441627).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Rick Warren, author of The Purpose of Christmas (Howard Books, $17.99, 9781416559009/1416559000). He will also appear tomorrow on Fox News's Hannity & Colmes.


Tomorrow morning on the Early Show: Terry Fator, America's Got Talent winner and author of Who's the Dummy Now? (New Holland, distributed by Tuttle, $16.95, 9781741107289/1741107288).


Tomorrow on All Things Considered: Michael William, author of Who We Were: A Snapshot History of America (CityFiles Press, $45, 9780978545017/097854501X).


Tomorrow on the Tavis Smiley Show: Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers: The Story of Success (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316017923/0316017922).


Tomorrow on Oprah: Don Van Ryn, author of Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope (Howard Books, $21.99, 9781416567356/1416567356).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Arianna Huffington, author of The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging (Simon & Schuster, $15, 9781439105009/1439105006).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Barbara Walters, author of Audition (Knopf, $29.95, 9780307266460/030726646X).


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

Movie: The Other Man

The Other Man, based on the short story by Bernhard Schlink, opens tomorrow, December 3. Antonio Banderas stars as a husband who believes his wife is cheating on him with another man. The movie also features Laura Linney and Liam Neeson. The movie tie-in edition is available today (Vintage, $13.95, 9780307472960/0307472965).


AuthorBuzz for the Week of 06.01.20

Books & Authors

Shelf Sample: The Salt-Box House

The Salt-Box House: 18th Century Life in a New England Hill Town by Jane de Forest Shelton (Rvive Books, $16.95 paperback, 9780980190953/0980190959, September 2008)

This utterly charming book is the story of a salt-box house built in 1758, from its construction through its early 19th century history. Jane de Forest Shelton, a historian and writer for Harper's Monthly, published The Salt-Box House in 1900, basing her account on family papers and stories. Shelton grew up in the 1850s and knew children of witnesses to the American Revolution, not to mention slaves. Her account of domestic economies, slave labor, travel, family, food and church customs is a fascinating history of a small New England town. She sets the stage for the house and its inhabitants:

"The old house looks as if it had stood in the path of a tornado. But is has only yielded to the pressure of the hand of Time weighted with the vagaries of New England's climate. Even the pyramids of Egypt could not long have held their majesty if they had been set on Connecticut's hills with her extremes of heat and cold to try their temper; and the old house, though firm in its foundation and staunch in its uprearing, after bearing itself bravely for a hundred and thirty years, fell, as a man falls by the wayside--when the knees give way and the head drops forward--all of a heap!

"The house seemed to lose heart when Miss Mary died. She was the last of her line, and her next of kin, being well placed elsewhere, cared not for removal. After a brief period of desolation the alien came to work the land on shares. But, as the strange burr dropped from his tongue, and he set up his cheap modern furniture, the old walls stood aloof and the ceilings withheld their benediction. At the end of the season he complained that the stairs were awry, the cupboard shelves aslant . . . when all these incongruities, animate and inanimate, were safely outside the great door, the latch gave a happy click as it fell into place, leaving the house alone with its secrets and its mysteries."--Marilyn Dahl


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

Attainment: New Books Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing Tuesday, September 9:

The Treasure by Iris Johansen (Bantam, $25, 9780553807318/0553807315) is a historical romance between a former assassin and a freed slave set in 12th-century Europe.

The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia by Stephen J. Sansweet, Pablo Hidalgo, Bob Vitas and Daniel Wallace (Del Rey, $125, 9780345477637/0345477634) chronicles all known facts of the Star Wars universe. Includes a decade of updates since the original publication.

The Secret Daily Teachings
by Rhonda Byrne (Atria, $14.95, 9781439130834/1439130833) expands on The Secret.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Positive Shades of Gray on Black Friday--Part I

What if we planned for a Gray Friday, expressed reasonably cautious fatalism--just to avoid angering the vengeful retail gods--and then people came out and shopped after all? Wouldn't that be great?

As it happens, this seems to have been the scenario for many booksellers last weekend. I had a front row seat myself, working the sales floor at the Northshire Bookstore, Manchester, Vt., and marveling at the traffic. Hadn't these people heard the economy is dying and Black Friday is for mall discounters only?

Apparently not.

"Our Black Friday was better than expected, Saturday was respectable and Sunday was a bit weaker because of the weather," said Chris Morrow, Northshire's general manager. "The weekend was better than the last three months have been, so let's hope December is more like this past weekend than the previous few months. I have my prayer beads working."

Allison Hill of Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif., noted that the bookshop's "sales exceeded our expectations. We were up both Friday and Saturday against last year's Black Friday weekend. The overall feeling in the store was really festive and feel-good, and people were definitely spending money. Our average dollars-per-transaction was only about a dollar down from last year and we saw big ticket items sell at a better rate than anticipated. Obviously, it's a more compressed holiday season with Thanksgiving falling so late so we'll see if the trend continues. Let's hope this keeps up!"

Having said last week that she expected a "quiet weekend," Lauretta Nagel of Constellation Books, Reisterstown, Md., found Black Friday sales "were about the same as last year (my first in business). The weekend was very good, however, and I think having the whole Main Street run a 'Holiday Market Day' event really helped. This weekend was up a bit over 300% compared to last year's weekend. Mind you, this is only my second year in business so any trending is still suspect."

Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo., was "16% up for the weekend," said Kris Kleindienst. "This far surpassed our wildest expectations. We were down about 11% in October, no surprise, but we have been running up all November. We can't explain it except maybe to say that our Friends of Left Bank Books membership drive in October (which netted us $14K in memberships--not included in the October sales) may have also reminded folks of the need to shop locally at a critical moment. I also credit the general euphoria of most of our customers over Obama's victory. The economy may actually be helping us because perhaps books look better and more meaningful to our customers right now than trampling a store employee to death to get a 'deal' on a wildly expensive flat screen TV. And we have been getting a lot of ink lately in anticipation of our downtown store opening December 10."
Tattered Cover Bookstore, Denver, Colo., had to weather the weather, but Cathy Langer said, "Friday's sales were very encouraging, compared to Saturday and Sunday, which were somewhat disappointing, in part due to the weather conditions on Sunday with snow and media news reports of road problems and closures up north, south and I-70 from the mountains into town. It was a sit-by-the-fire kind of day. I will say we're cautiously optimistic within our managed expectations (how's that for qualified?), with some good media exposure coming up and the feeling that books always make great, meaningful gifts and even more so in years like this."

Steve Bercu of BookPeople, Austin, Tex., thought "everything measured up well. We were up slightly for the last two weeks in November (Thanksgiving was in a different week last year so it was hard to measure the weeks by themselves) and we were up slightly for November as a whole. Black Friday was up 20%, but the whole weekend was only up 3%. Of course, Black Friday is not our biggest day or even in our top 20 for the year. We will do better than that at least 10 times before Dec. 25. In any case I look at it as positive for the season."

As we mentioned last week, Village Books, Bellingham, Wash., offered a Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving coupon, and Chuck Robinson pronounced the experiment a success: "We got 95 of the coupons (15% off total purchase) back that day and our business was up 42% over the Wednesday before Thanksgiving last year. We also think it helped jump-start some business. We were up nearly 10% on Black Friday and Saturday was just about dead-even with the Saturday after T-Day last year (these are combined sales with our card and gift shop that we haven't separated out yet). Where our sales are trailing are in our card and gift store, immediately adjacent to the bookstore. Because we don't carry many non-book items in the bookstore it appears those are the lagging sales items. I'd be curious to see if those stores who can separate their non-book sales are seeing a bigger drop there than in book sales as we are."

Coupon-inspired sales were also reported by Sarah Bagby of Watermark Books, Wichita, Kan. "We redeemed many of our Black Friday coupons," she said. "People were buying bigger ticket items with the discount. Our sales were in line with expectations and customers were upbeat, open to suggestions of titles they hadn't come in for and just getting started shopping for holiday giving. People seem more cautious about gift cards than in years past; however, those sales typically don't really crank up until mid-December. To confirm what we heard from various groups, our customers want to send something personal and well chosen."
Anne Holman of the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, observed a gift card trend as well, noting that "sales were good, but they were lower than last year. Gift card orders are fewer this year so far, which is interesting and we'll see if it continues. [Black Friday] went better than we'd braced ourselves for and it could have been better. The weather in SLC has been unseasonably warm and sunny, so maybe people aren't fully in the shopping mode yet."

Stay tuned for more Gray Friday results tomorrow.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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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