Shelf Awareness for Friday, December 12, 2008


Bloomsbury YA: Dreamland (YA Edition): The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones

Balzer & Bray: The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy

Rick Riordan Presents: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1) by Kwame Mbalia

Magination Press: Trans+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You by Kathryn Gonzales and Karen Rayne

Sourcebooks Explore: Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children by Kath Shackleton, illustrated by Zane Wittingham

Central Avenue Publishing: Into Captivity They Will Go by Noah Milligan

Carolrhoda Books: A Time Traveler's Theory of Relativity by Nicole Valentine

Editors' Note

Adieu to the 10-Digit ISBN

It will soon be two years since 13-digit ISBNs were introduced. Because some of you have used systems that haven't been updated, we've included 10-digit ISBNs in our listings of titles. But ISBN scouts report this should no longer be an issue, so in the new year, we are planning to include only 13-digit ISBNs in Shelf Awareness.

If this is a problem, speak now or forever hold your 10-digit peace!

 


Mango: The Restaurant Diet: How to Eat Out Every Night and Still Lose Weight by Fred Bollaci


Quotation of the Day

Books as Great Gifts

"Books make great gifts because they're an amazing way to kill time while your Web site is buffering."--The Daily Show's Jon Stewart in a video produced by Random House and a key part of the Association of American Publishers BooksAreGreatGifts.com campaign that features public figures and authors.

 


Charlesbridge Publishing: Baby Loves the Five Senses by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chan


News

Notes: Used Book Re-Gifters; Squirrely Economy

Used bookstores are seeing increased sales thanks to "thrifty re-gifters" this holiday season, according to Minnpost.com, which observed that "thrifty customers buy used books in 'like new' condition they can quietly pass off as new."

"It's a little tacky, isn't it?" said Amy Griffis, manager at Half Price Books, Crystal, Minn. "But plenty of people do it. They'll call us first and ask if the book is in 'pristine condition.' That's a tip-off that they mean to give it as a gift."

Children's books are a particular favorite. Karin Grimlund of Booksmart, Minneapolis, said, "New or used, people know kids' books are going to be loved anyway."

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Duane Collins, who recently opened Reader's Delight bookstore, Vandalia, Ohio, told the Vandalia Drummer News that his motivation for becoming a bookseller is based in part on frustration with local options. "If I wanted something, I had to drive to the Dayton Mall because there was nothing nearby," Collins said. "There was nothing in town. A lot of people told me that they wished that there was a bookstore here."

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In Other Words, the Portland, Ore., nonprofit feminist bookstore, is "on the brink of closing its doors for good," according to Just Out. "We looked at our financial situation and realized it was much more dire than it has ever been in the past," said program director Katie Carter, who added that sales are "down significantly from previous years, and it looks like it's going to continue that way. We are in a crisis situation." Just Out reported that "Carter and the store's board of directors say they must raise $11,000 in the next 20 days, or the store will close shortly after January 1."

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In a Community Impact Newspaper story about how retailers in Georgetown, Texas, near Austin, are faring during the holiday season, Margarite Holt, owner of Hill Country Bookstore, said that with November sales down 23%, the store has been "doing more fairs and sidewalk sales. This is a challenge. As retailers, we have to be more creative on how we market our products--more so than we have in the past." She remains optimistic, saying, "I'm lucky because I think I have a product that is recession proof."

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That Book Store in Blytheville and owner Mary Gay Shipley were featured as "one of the town's jewels" in an Amazed by Arkansas segment on TodaysTHV.com.

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As noted in Bookselling This Week, three booksellers offered their picks for the holiday season yesterday on NPR's Morning Edition. To hear what Rona Brinlee of the Book Mark, Atlantic Beach, Fla., Lucia Silva of Portrait of a Bookstore in Studio City, Calif.; and Chris Livingston of the Book Shelf in Winona, Minn., recommended, click here.

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The ABA has unveiled the 2008 Indie bestsellers, which consist of 15 titles in five categories. See them here.

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A little good news for Borders: the company's website was named one of Internet Retailer's Hot 100 2009 Best Retail Web Sites. Commending sites that offer users extensive information, the magazine wrote: "The newly launched Borders.com site features exclusive video interviews with authors"--a key part of its Borders Media section. Internet Retailer also liked Borders.com's Magic Shelf, which the company calls "a virtual bookshelf that allows customers to view books, music and movies much the same way they browse book tables and shelves in their favorite Borders bookstores."

"Borders.com's new handsome, functional site does a great job of carrying over the Borders brand and experience from offline to online," said Kurt Peters, editor in chief of Internet Retailer.

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After a squirrel appeared this summer on Powell's Books reusable bags and then scurried around and appeared elsewhere in and about the store--on mugs, T-shirts, etc.--the staff became tired of referring to the anonymous critter as "the squirrel." So now the store is staging a naming contest: as Dave Weich of Powells.com put it on his blog, "Winner gets a $100 Powell's card, a featured book shelf at Powells.com, and bragging rights into the future." The contest is mentioned on the website as well as in the latest stories about Fup, the late store cat whose fans hail from around the world. Already 238 people have submitted a name for Fup's distant cousin.

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Some 15 ABA member stores opened during October and November. For a full list with contact information, go to Bookselling This Week.

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"Don't like reading? Buy a book anyway," advised Washington, D.C., Examiner columnist Meghan Cox Gurdon, despite her belief that "the bleating from independent bookstores has often seemed rather tiresome. Why should readers conspire to make prices higher for themselves? The sympathies of conservative book buyers are further strained by the seemingly inevitable lefty aura of independent bookstores. (Can you imagine Politics & Prose replacing its supply of mocking anti-Bush paraphernalia with, say, anti-Obama stocking stuffers? Neither can I.)"

So what has caused her to tout book buying for the holidays?

"Now it's no longer just precious, tweedy, bookstore-owning progressives who are in trouble," she wrote. "The book business itself has entered a new and frightening stage that even the arrival of mistletoe seems unable to forestall. . . . Now, perhaps you don't care whether bookstores exist, and maybe you are not, yourself, an avid reader.  Still--don't be indifferent. You live in a culture that since Gutenberg has been more open and free because of the wide availability of books. Even today, when we're all inundated with reading material, books stand as a particular measure of liberty."

 


imon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Max & Ruby and Twin Trouble (Max and Ruby Adventure) BY Rosemary Wells


Holiday Hum: Investigating More Mystery Bookstores

Gift buyers are going retro at "M" Is for Mystery . . . and More in San Mateo, Calif. Among the store's lead titles for the holiday season are reproductions of early Agatha Christie novels that replicate the type, format and covers of first editions from the Christie family archive. Hercule Poirot's Christmas, perhaps?

"M" Is for Mystery . . . and More has a sizeable section devoted to crime fiction published in the U.K., including the Agatha Christie facsimiles. "We try to carry things that are unique for the area," said owner Ed Kaufman, who in addition to a weekly general newsletter produces a monthly version devoted to its imports.

Signed books are a staple for the store. Throughout the year, "M" Is for Mystery typically hosts 15-20 authors events per month (some in conjunction with area libraries), which keeps the store well-stocked with signed books. More than half of the books it sells are shipped to customers in some 40 states and 15 foreign countries--and almost all of those are signed books, Kaufman noted.

The 2008 line-up included thriller writers Michael Connelly, Tess Gerritsen and Dennis Lehane. In recent years the store has also been hosting writers of more general fiction--Neal Stephenson, Dave Eggers and David Wroblewski just this year--which led Kaufman to add " . . . and More" to the store's name.

Sales at "M" Is for Mystery . . . and More were down 12% through the end of November. To entice shoppers to spend in December--and perhaps garner new customers who will return for future purchasing--Kaufman is offering a 20% discount on most unsigned books. Orders over $100 receive an additional 10%. The store normally doesn't discount.

Sideline items are also on sale, including custom merchandise. Popular for holiday gift-giving are the store's ceramic mugs, each of which features the signature "M" along with a different image--raven, bloodhound, black cat or a portrait of Sherlock Holmes--designed by artist William Crutchfield.

For mystery readers with wanderlust, Kaufman recommends stories set in foreign locales like those by Cara Black (Paris), Donna Leon (Venice) and James Church (North Korea). The pseudonymous Church, a former intelligence officer, appeared at the store on December 4 to promote Bamboo and Blood, his third Inspector O novel. "His books are particularly interesting to people because most don't know anything about North Korea," said Kaufman. "When you read them, you really get a sense of the flavor of the country."

Headlining this week at "M" Is for Mystery was J.A. Jance, whose most recent thriller is Cruel Intent. Next week's guests are John Morgan Wilson, the author of Spider Season, and sisters Pamela and Mary O'Shaughnessy, whose latest Perri O'Shaughnessy novel is Show No Fear. On December 14, the store will host an annual holiday soirée sponsored by local chapters of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Customers are invited to enjoy food and wine, meet nearly 30 local authors and, said Kaufman, "hopefully buy a few books."

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At Booked for Murder in Madison, Wis., owner Sara Barnes has cut back on inventory and is encouraging customers to place special orders. "Once we've explained that this isn't a good time for us to be carrying a lot of inventory and that shipping is so quick, all have been understanding," she said.

Located in the front windows as well as throughout the store are displays intended to make it easier for shoppers to choose holiday gifts. Signs bear questions that correspond to a selection of mysteries along that particular theme. Have a Pet-Lover on Your List? The main character in Nothing to Fear but Ferrets is a crime-solving pet-sitter. Have a History Buff on Your List? The Dragon King's Palace is set in feudal Japan. Have a Traveler on Your List? He or she can visit Tibet in the pages of Water Touching Stone. Have a Chef or Crafter on Your List? That person might like Silence of the Hams or Hooked on Murder: A Crochet Mystery. Or even Thai Die: A Needlecraft Mystery by Monica Ferris, who will be at Booked for Murder for an event on December 21. Each of Ferris's books includes a bonus for crafters: a free needlepoint pattern.

For young mystery fans, the Booked for Murder staff is handselling Rick Riordan's The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones. "Aside from the fun of the book, this one comes with so much more interactive bang for its buck," said Barnes. Another item she recommends for kids (and their parents) is the Spiderwick Chronicles Fantastical Field Guide Mystery Game. Among the sidelines for grown-ups are "How to Host a Murder" dinner party games, mystery-themed jigsaw puzzles and crossword and Sudoku titles.

Sales at Booked for Murder have slowed this year--the store is down by about a third--but optimism is running strong. "I have high hopes for a successful holiday season, based on the practical, old-fashioned appeal of books as gifts that can be treasured, saved, shared," Barnes said. "With such uncertainty all around us, it's nice to be able to give something non-ephemeral."

---Shannon McKenna Schmidt


Charlesbridge Publishing: Sumokitty by David Biedrzycki



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Peter Pan Pop-Up; Wimpy Kid Pick

This morning on the Today Show: Robert Sabuda, creator of Peter Pan: A Classic Collectible Pop-Up, based on J.M. Barrie's classic (S&S, $29.99, 9780689853647/0689853645).

Also on Today, Al Roker announces his next book club selection: Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (Abrams Books for Young Readers, $12.95, 9780810993136/0810993139), the first in the series of the same name. The latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, The Last Straw ($12.95, 9780810970687/0810970686), will be published January 13 with a 1 million-copy first printing. 

 


Atheneum Books: Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Alexander Nabaum


Books & Authors

Book Brahmins: Jon Anderson

When Jon Anderson, the publisher of Running Press, isn't busy publishing skinny bitches and sneaky chefs, he is writing, mainly some two dozen children's books under the pseudonym William Boniface. His most recent work is the Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy, a series of novels set in a city where everyone has a super power--everyone that is except Ordinary Boy. What O Boy does possess--lots of smarts and good critical thinking skills--is considered of little practical value. Anderson says that any similarity to our own society is purely coincidental. The third volume of the series, The Great Powers Outage, went on sale from HarperCollins on November 25.

On your nightstand now:

As always, it's kind of an eclectic mess of things. There's Dinosaur in a Haystack by Stephen Jay Gould; The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (I loved The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife, but as I'm nearing the conclusion of the trilogy it feels like Pullman's story has simply gotten too big for him to control); dozens of books about the Italian Renaissance for a novel I'm working on set at that time; and The Complete Little Orphan Annie, Volume One 1924-1927. I love that spunky little redhead.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I was obsessed with a picture book called Miss Twiggley's Tree by Dorothea Warren Fox. It was about an eccentric woman who lived in a tree. I must have checked it out a dozen times, and then it suddenly vanished from the library. I didn't find a copy of it again until some 30 years later. Amazingly, it was exactly as I remembered it.

Your top five authors:

Five writers who I never tire of reading and whose work has in some way influenced me include Gore Vidal, who understands that good gossip makes for good history; Isaac Asimov, for his intricate plotting and seamless use of science; Roald Dahl, for his delightful way of exposing people at their nastiest; James Blaylock, for his quirkiness and style; and Carl Barks, who wrote and illustrated the Disney comics of the 1950s and 1960s. He managed to imbue talking ducks with the most human of personalities and foibles while placing them in flawlessly plotted tales filled with humor and adventure. His comic book stories read as well to me now as they did when I was 10.

Book you've faked reading:

Ironically, the only book I ever faked reading was for a college class I had on Business Ethics. We were assigned Atlas Shrugged--and given one week to read it! How my professor expected students carrying a full load of classes to read a 1,200-page book in a week, I have no idea. All I ended up reading was the back cover, yet I got an "A" on the essay test I wrote discussing the philosophy of Ayn Rand. I think ultimately it said more about her philosophy than it did my ability to B.S.

Book you are an evangelist for:

Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond is a book I would put in a class with On the Origin of Species. It fundamentally changes the way we think about how we've come to occupy the place we do in the world. A lot of people seem awfully threatened at the thought that we are who we are strictly because our environment has made us that way. I know it's the kind of statement that will send kids running out to buy my books, but that same idea is a central theme of my third Ordinary Boy adventure. But that's only one of several elements of the plot that could get the series banned if anyone bothers to look closely.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I have no problem admitting that most of the books I've ever bought were as a result of their covers first catching my attention. I love a great cover. And yes, I've bought books with wonderful covers that have been dreadful reads. But I don't know a single good editor who doesn't understand the critical importance of having a cover that both captures the book AND the eye of the consumer.

Book that changed your life:

In the fourth grade, my teacher shoved a copy of The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle into my hands. I thought she was nuts! She didn't really expect me to read this 500-page book, did she? But I took it home that weekend, and I did start reading. And except for being forced to go to bed Saturday night, I didn't stop until I finished it. On Monday, I went back to school and begged her for something else like it. She knew she had me. It was the start of what became a lifelong love of books and ultimately led me into a career in publishing.

Favorite line from a book:

"It was called Vertigo Park by accident, because Curtis Wills Booney, its founder, was mistakenly advised that vertigo meant green."--From Vertigo Park and Other Tall Tales by Mark O'Donnell.

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

I don't think anything has ever come close to matching the excitement I felt reading The Lord of the Rings as a freshman in high school. Unfortunately, I wasted much of the next six years reading dozens of other fantasy novels in an attempt to find something to equal the experience. Nothing else came remotely close, and I mostly gave up on the category.

 


Book Review

Book Review: The Moon Opera

The Moon Opera by Bi Feiyu (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $18.00 Hardcover, 9780151012947, January 2009)



What an opera of a book this turns out to be! A modern-day, realistic melodrama about the intersecting lives in the staging of a classic Chinese fantasy, it's the story of a handful of veteran actors with a chance to revive their careers remounting a former triumph, the opera about a girl who accidentally drinks from the elixir of immortality and flies to the moon. For as short as this book is--117 pages, and not long pages, either--it's chock full of dramatic surprises and secret passions, impulsive violence, reversals and revelations in a theatrical, behind-the-scenes rollercoaster ride. The most delightful aspect of this precision miniature is its serpentine narration, the plot slipping and sliding in unexpected directions.

The story begins as the leader of an aging opera troupe encounters a wealthy cigarette factory boss who has fanatically followed the career of the troupe's former ingénue star, Yanqiu, now 40, an ice queen with a very troubled past. The factory boss has seen every production of the Moon Opera with her in it, and he's willing to put up the money for one more. Like a string of Chinese firecrackers, this sets off a chain of emotional situations, jealousies, sexual encounters, bargains and betrayals--not to mention some pretty harrowing dieting.

The situation is aggravated by Chunlai, Yanqiu's breathtakingly lovely, prodigiously talented student, who is as close to Yanqiu as a daughter. Chunlai is the understudy but should be playing the leading role instead of her teacher.

With frequent one-liners dispensing a pithy, pragmatic wisdom toward the story's sordid situations--"But sex is so toxic it doesn't let you quit just because you want to"--this elegant eight-chapter novella is a highly cinematic backstage drama from one of the co-writers of the movie Shanghai Triad; it's a wise, gaudy little tragedy attractively packaged by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt with a cover featuring a Peking Opera face in full make-up. The never-predictable plot is tightly wound, clever and sinuous, building right up to the carefully orchestrated climactic opening night of the Moon Opera. It's pure soap opera transformed into art, but once the plot has you in its grips, you won't be getting out of your armchair until you've lingered over the last sentence.--Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: A modern-day, realistic melodrama about the intersecting lives in the staging of a classic Chinese opera, with a plot slipping and sliding in unexpected directions.

 


The Bestsellers

IMBA's Top-Selling Titles in November

The following were the bestselling titles at member stores of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association during November:

Hardcovers

1. The Private Patient by P.D. James (Knopf)
2. The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)
3. Six Geese A-Slaying by Donna Andrews (St. Martin's)
4. The Given Day by Dennis Lehane (Morrow)
5. The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffery Deaver (Simon & Schuster)
5. Extreme Measures by Vince Flynn (Atria)
7. The Fire by Katherine Neville (Ballantine)
7. Arctic Drift by Clive Cussler (Putnam)
9. The Price of Butcher's Meat by Reginald Hill (Harper)
10. Santa Clawed by Rita Mae Brown (Bantam)

Paperback

1. Murder with All the Trimmings by Elaine Viets (Obsidian)
2. Bright Hair About the Bone by Barbara Cleverly (Delta)
3. Kissing Christmas Goodbye by M.C. Beaton (St. Martin's)
4. Christmas Is Murder by C.S. Challinor (Midnight Ink)
5. Fatal Fixer-Upper by Jennie Bentley (Berkley)
5. The Serpent and the Scorpion by Clare Langley-Hawthorne (Penguin)
5. Indigo Christmas by Jeanne Dams (Perseverance Press)
8. Down River by John Hart (St. Martin's)
8. The House Without a Key by Earl Derr Biggers (Academy Chicago Press)
10. Ringing in Murder by Kate Kingsbury (Berkley)
10. Chat by Archer Mayor (Grand Central)
10. Murder Packs a Suitcase by Cynthia Baxter (Bantam)
10. Shrouds of Holy by Kate Kingsbury (Berkley)

[Many thanks to the IMBA!]

 


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