Archive for the ‘2010 – Fall’ Category

No Refunds Necessary

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Steve Martin jokes on Twitter. “CBS demands refund for my appearing on CBS Sunday Morning,” referring to his recent appearance at New York’s 92nd St Y and subsequent ticket refunds (he spoke more about it in a funny segment on the online “Later on Sunday Morning“).

The CBS appearance, even though it also focused on art, rather than his career, did sell books. As a result of the show, Object of Beauty, rose to #31 from #64.


An Object of Beauty: A Novel
Steve Martin
Retail Price: $26.99
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing – (2010-11-23)
ISBN / EAN: 0446573647 / 978

OverDrive WMA Audiobook; BBC Audio America
Hachette Audio, UNABR, Campbell Scott Narrator, 9781607886129, $34.98
BBC Audio; UNABR; Campbell Scott, Narrator, 9781607889403; $74.99

Did Mark Twain Invent the Book Embargo?

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010


Déjà vu?

It will come as sad news to libraries trying to keep up with the demand for The Autobiography of Mark Twain that it was featured on NPR’s Fresh Air last night.

Libraries aren’t the only ones behind the curve; the book’s publisher, University of California Press, is working to get more copies into the pipeline and booksellers are kicking themselves for not seeing it coming.

One of the elements fueling the demand is the often-repeated story that it was suppressed for 100 years, according to Twain’s desire to not offend the people mentioned in it. However, as we’ve pointed out before, this is not completely true, since most of the autobiography has already been published (in the current issue of the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik says only 5% of this edition is new material).

So, why the embargo myth? Bob Hirst, director of the Mark Twain Project, who has been working on Twain’s papers for 30 years joked to NPR in an earlier interview,

…can you spell marketing plan? If you say here’s a little bit of the autobiography, but you can’t see the whole thing for a hundred years, you’re gonna sell a book. Mark Twain knew how to sell a book.

Gopnick puts it more pointedly, calling this version of the material, which has been edited and published three times before,

If not exactly a deliberate swindle, it is an endlessly repeated put-on, a shaggy-dog story without a punch line…[that] keeps getting replayed for credulous audiences.

He finds very little to admire in the book, calling it, “…slack and anti-rhythmic. Scarcely a single sentence in the whole thousand pages stands out to be admired.”

Does he recommend reading any of the other versions? No, he finds Life on the Mississippi and Roughing It far superior (try that out on customers demanding the Autobiography).

Bookseller Arsen Kashkashian, (Boulder Book Store) calls the phenomenon The Absurdity of Twain Fever and predicts that “many copies of the Autobiography now in the hands of gleeful customers will end up, after great disappointment, flooding back into the bookstore in 2011 as forgotten used tomes.”

Riding the WAVE

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Last night, Jon Stewart said the magic words about Susan Casey’s The Wave, “I’m telling you man, I really love this book.”

As a result, it shot up Amazon’s sale rankings to #40 (it was on the NYT Nonfiction Hardcover list for most of October, but slid to the extended list in the last few weeks).

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Susan Casey
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor The Daily Show on Facebook


The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean
Susan Casey
Retail Price: $27.95
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Doubleday – (2010-09-14)
ISBN / EAN: 0767928849 / 9780767928847

Beautiful Minds

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

The most unusual art book of the season may be Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century. The NYT features it today (complete with stunning slide show on the Web site), saying it is filled with “gorgeous imagery, from the first delicate depictions of neurons sketched in prim Victorian black and white to the giant Technicolor splashes the same structures make across 21st-century LED screens.”

The book was not reviewed prepub and few public libraries own it.

Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century
Carl Schoonover
Retail Price: $35.00
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Abrams – (2010-11-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0810990334 / 9780810990333

UNBROKEN a Best Seller

Monday, November 29th, 2010

It’s official; Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is now a best seller, arriving on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction (list dated 12/05) at-#2 (after Bush’s Decision Points).

The USA Today list shows that it is at #6 in overall sales, after:

1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, Jeff Kinney, Amulet Books
2. Decision Points, George W. Bush, Crown
3. Cross Fire, James Patterson, Little, Brown
4. The Confession, John Grisham, Doubleday
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson, Vintage trade pbk

Library holds are also growing. All of this is to be expected, given the heavy media attention the book has received. The question now, as we’ve written here before, is how word of mouth will treat it. Will readers be put off by the book’s realistic portrayal of the horrors Louis Zamperini endured in WWII, or will they embrace its ultimately positive message?

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Laura Hillenbrand
Retail Price: $27.00
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Random House – (2010-11-16)
ISBN / EAN: 1400064163 / 9781400064168

RH Large Print; 9780375435010
RH Audio; 9780739319697

Prison Librarian Gets New Attention

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Running the Books, prison librarian Avi Steinberg’s memoir gets an additional dose of press attention (see earlier stories) from USA Today, which calls it “a smart new memoir” and says it is “about the ways in which the library provided refuge, companionship and solace to the people [Steinberg] met,” and praises the author for “leaven[ing] his often-grim memoir with unexpected bits of comedy and insight, weaving his family’s story into the narrative.”

Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian
Avi Steinberg
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Nan A. Talese – (2010-10-19)
ISBN / EAN: 0385529090 / 9780385529099

A SECRET GIFT Brought to Light

Monday, November 29th, 2010

CBS Sunday Morning featured a book about an anonymous philanthropist who offered to gave money to people in need during the Depression, in the form of just $5 each, and the profound effect it had on the recipients. The story was reported last month New York Times.

As a result of yesterday’s coverage, the book rose to #80 on Amazon sales rankings and library holds are growing.


A Secret Gift: How One Man’s Kindness–and a Trove of Letters–Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression
Ted Gup
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The – (2010-10-28)
ISBN / EAN: 1594202702 / 9781594202704

Large Print; Center Point; 9781602859258; 12/01/10

Random House Audio; 9780307578037; 11/09/10

Mark Twain Delayed

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Above: The currently sought-after edition and two earlier versions of Twain’s Autobiography

Wondering why you haven’t received your orders of the Mark Twain autobiography?

The New York Times reports that the publisher, the University of California Press, did not anticipate the demand. The same is true for booksellers, who are discovering, to their regret, that it has become the desired gift book of the season.

According to the NYT, the original print run was 50,000 (which probably seemed aggressive at the time). The U. of Cal. Press uses a small printer in Michigan that has been working overtime to produce 30,000 copies a week and has engaged larger trucks so they can transport more copies in each shipment to warehouses.

In libraries, holds are growing and outpacing the other surprise hits of the season. They are slightly higher than Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra and the Booker winner, The Finkler Question, but not quite as high as Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken.

Part of the allure of the book is that the autobiography was supposedly held back for 100 years. But the director of the Mark Twain Project, Robert Hirst, told NPR recently,

In spite of these efforts at suppression, however, most of the autobiography has surfaced over the years, and the supposed “embargo” has only led to increased interest in and sales for the book.

Hirst also says that the reader “might find [this edition] a bit of a slow read at times” because  it,

…includes the numerous false starts Twain made before he settled into the dictation….It is heavy slogging. But I would recommend what Mark Twain would recommend: If you’re bored with it, SKIP.


Friday, November 19th, 2010

The good news: you published the winner of the National Book Award in fiction.

The bad news: you only printed 8,000 copies

Publisher Bruce McPherson tells the Wall Street Journal that another printing of Jaimy Gordon’s Lord of Misrule should be available by Dec. 3.

So far, however, library demand is not going through the roof. At four large library systems we checked, the number of holds for this year’s Booker winner, The Finkler Question, is seven times those for Lord of Misrule.

We’re willing to bet that this is the first National Book Award winner to be reviewed by The Daily Racing Form.

Congrats to Gordon’s home town public library, Kalamazoo P.L. They nabbed the author for a program on Dec. 3rd.

Palin Goes Where the Crowds Are

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Sarah Palin hits the road next week to promote her new compilation on American virtues, America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag (Harper). Her tour starts on November 23 in Phoenix, Arizona at a Barnes & Noble at 6 p.m., according to the Daily Beast, which notes that she will appear on the busiest Christmas shopping days of the year, including Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

Most libraries we checked had orders in line with substanial reserves.

America by Heart : Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag
Sarah Palin
Retail Price: $25.99
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Harper – (2010-11-23)
ISBN / EAN: 0062010964 / 9780062010964

Other Notable Nonfiction on Sale Next Week

Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris (Random House) is the third volume in the landmark biography of Teddy Roosevelt, chronicling his return to politics after his presidency. Kirkus declares “Roosevelt never fails to fascinate, and Morris provides a highly readable, strong finish to his decades-long marathon.” It’s currently rising on Amazon (now at #143).

Whiter Shades of Pale: The Stuff White People Like, Coast to Coast, from Seattle’s Sweaters to Maine’s Microbrews by Christian Lander (Random House Trade Paperbacks) is the followup to the humor hit Stuff White People Like. Although most libraries ordered the first book, several we checked haven’t ordered this one (unlike its predecessor, it wasn’t reviewed prepub).


Friday, November 19th, 2010

Next week’s media darling is shaping up to be An Object of Beauty, the third novel by actor, author and art collector Steve Martin, which follows an ambitious young woman as she cuts a swath through the New York art world.

Entertainment Weekly gives it an A-:

A dramedy of manners that doubles as an immersion course in the rarefied world of high-end art…. It takes a certain nimbleness to play the dual roles of proxy art-history professor and compelling storyteller without falling off the literary balance beam. Martin, wry, wise, and keenly observant, rarely misses a step.

The New York Times just ran a profile of Martin, noting that he received “a little pushback from Sotheby’s, which plays a small but slightly controversial role in the book, when one of the characters, a Sotheby’s employee, attempts a bidding scheme there. The people at the auction house were not pleased.” It just broke into the Top 100 on Amazon and is rising.

Libraries we checked had orders in line with substantial reserves.

An Object of Beauty
Steve Martin
Retail Price: $26.99
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing – (2010-11-23)
ISBN / EAN: 0446573647 / 9780446573641

Ususal Suspects on Sale Next Week

The Athena Project by Brad Thor (Atria) is the debut of a new thrille rseries about an elite all-female counter-terrorism unit. Deadline reports that Warner Bros. just picked up the film rights.

The Emperor’s Tomb (Cotton Malone Series #6) by Steve Berry finds ex-federal agent Cotton Malone and old heartthrob Cassiopeia Vitt “on a dangerous mission to retrieve a priceless Chinese lamp from the third century B.C.E. in Berry’s rousing fifth thriller…. A goose-pimpleraising showdown in a remote monastery–is worth the wait.”

Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card (Simon Pulse) gets a starred review from Booklist: “Card’s latest title has much in common with his Ender Wiggins books: precocious teens with complementary special talents, callously manipulative government authorities, endlessly creative worlds, and Card’s refusal to dumb down a plot for a young audience.”

Night Whispers by Erin Hunter (HarperCollins) is book three in the feline fantasy Warriors: Omen of the Stars series.


Thursday, November 18th, 2010

The Sexiest Man Alive is Ryan Reynolds.

Oops, sorry, the real news is that the 11/29 issue of People gives three books the four-star treatment (but the lead title, Bush’s Decision Points gets only 3.5):

The Distant Hours, Kate Morton, “A nuanced exploration of family secrets and betrayal, Morton’s latest [after The Forgotten Garden] is captivating.”

The Distant Hours: A Novel
Kate Morton
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 576 pages
Publisher: Atria – (2010-11-09)
ISBN / EAN: 1439152780 / 9781439152782


Foreign Bodies, Cynthia Ozick, “Who would dare rewrite Henry James? Ozick proves up to the task, recasting The Amabassadors with Jewish Americans in post-war Paris.” It will be featured on the NYT BR cover this week.

Foreign Bodies
Cynthia Ozick
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – (2010-11-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0547435576 / 9780547435572


Louisa May Alcott, Susan Cheever; “Cheever brings her characteristic lyricism to this loving, incisive portrait.”

Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography
Susan Cheever
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster – (2010-11-02)
ISBN / EAN: 141656991X / 9781416569916

Jay Z on Terry Gross

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

As part of his extensive media tour for his book, Decoded, Jay Z talks to Terry Gross about his music and growing up in a housing project in Brooklyn. He will appear on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tonight. Earlier this week, he appeared at the New York Public Library.

Retail Price: $35.00
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau – (2010-11-16)
ISBN / EAN: 1400068924 / 9781400068920

Can’t Get Enough About the Financial Crisis

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Why read yet another book on the financial crisis? A Huffington Post columnist has declared the latest in a long line of them, All the Devils Are Here, by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera, the “Best Business Book of the Year” (he does, however, admit to being a friend of one of the authors). Time magazine says, “When the financial crisis of this decade is being taught in business schools in the next, All the Devils Are Here could be the textbook.”

The authors convinced Jon Stewart’s viewers on The Daily Show last night (Stewart used the magic words, “you have to get this [book]”); it rose to #13 on Amazon sales rankings after their appearance.

Coming tomorrow to The Daily Show, Jay-Z, Decoded (Spiegel and Grau) and on Thursday, Philip K. Howard, Life Without Lawyers (Norton).

All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis
Bethany McLean, Joe Nocera
Retail Price: $32.95
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover – (2010-11-16)
ISBN / EAN: 1591843634 / 9781591843634

Trigiani on the TODAY SHOW

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Author, library supporter and hilarious speaker, Adriana Trigiani was on the Today Show last week, talking about her new book, Don’t Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers. (Apologies for being a bit late in posting this and thanks to Carol Fitzgerald for mentioning it in this week’s Book Reporter newsletter).

This book must mean a lot to her; she’s actually speaking slowly.


Don’t Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers
Adriana Trigiani
Retail Price: $22.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Harper – (2010-11-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061958948 / 9780061958946