Archive for August, 2008

Is Anyone Reading about McCain?

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

Curiously, with all the political bios and memoirs dotting betseller lists, books by and about McCain are low in sales rankings (the highest on Amazon is Faith of Our Fathers, by McCain and Mark Salter, at #842). 

As we get closer to the election, there will likely be more interest, so Christopher Beam put together “Grand Old Book Party; What to Read about John McCain and the Future of the GOP,” which appers in both the Washington Post Sunday “Outlook” section, and, in a slightly different form in Slate

Beam mentions the autobiograhies McCain and Mark Salter have written over the years and then goes on to describe some other titles:

The Nightingale’s Song

Robert Timberg 

“juicy anecdotes about young McCain”

  • Paperback: $16.00; 544 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; (September 11, 1996)
  • ISBN-10: 0684826739
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684826738 
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #2,452 
  • Audio CD: Unabridged, 14 CD’s, $120
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks, (October 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1433260379
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433260377


John McCain: An American Odyssey
Robert Timberg
Nightingale’s Song was  “chopped and repackaged” as this title. Beam recommends reading the original, because it also covers Jim Webb.
  • Paperback: $15.00; 240 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (September 18, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 141655985X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416559856
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #63,750


Free Ride: John McCain and the Media

David Brock and Paul Waldman

Meant to “indict the MSM for its too-friendly coverage of McCain…[instead, it] often reads like an unintentional ode to the senator’s media savvy.”

  • Paperback: $13.95, 240 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (March 25, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0307279405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307279408
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #130,922



Citizen McCain

Elizabeth Drew

“squarely in Camp McCain… a well-intentioned snorer”

  • Paperback: $12.00; 208 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (May 6, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1416593179
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416593171
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #166,964


Man of the People: The Maverick Life and Career of John McCain, Revised and Updated for the 2008 Presidential Election

Paul Alexander

Like Citizen McCain, “should… be sold with pom-poms.”

Originally pubbed in 2004, this title was recently updated.


  • Paperback: $14.95; 240 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; Rev Upd edition (June 23, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0470390700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470390702 
  • Sales Rank: #90,307


The following, says Beam, are by skeptics:


McCain: The Myth of a Maverick

Matt Welch

  • Hardcover: $27.95; 256 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; (October 16, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 0230603963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230603967
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #59,846
About to be released in paperback:
  • Paperback: $16.95; 272 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (September 16, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0230608051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230608054


McCain’s Promise: Aboard the Straight Talk Express With John McCain and a Whole Bunch of Actual Reporters, Thinking About Hope

David Foster Wallace

  • Paperback: $9.99; 144 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; (June 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0316040533
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316040532
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #135,728


Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream

Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam

According to Beam, “with the GOP struggling nationwide” the suggestions in this book “might actually help” McCain.

  • Hardcover: $23.95, 256 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (June 24, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0385519435
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385519434
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #13,388 

Palin’s Bio

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

Your first question after hearing that McCain had chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate was undoubtedly, “Is there a book about her?”

The answer is “yes, and it’s now #12 on Amazon.”

Published with uncanny foresight in April by Alaska’s Epicenter Press, the book is partisan towards its subject (as is clear from its subtitle). 

According to Publishers the publisher is out of stock and is working with Lightning Source to meet demand until it can do another reprint. 

Joe Biden’s book, Promises to Keep went to #8 on Amazon after his nomination last week. It is now at #246.

The libraries I checked do not own it.

Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska’s Political Establishment on Its Ear 
by Kaylene Johnson

  • Hardcover: $19.95; 159 pages
  • Publisher: Epicenter Press (April 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0979047080
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979047084

‘Midnight Sun’ on Hold

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

Stephenie Meyer announced on her site yesterday that she has shelved plans for Midnight Sun, a retelling of the Twilight Saga from Edward’s point of view. She says she made the decision because a partial draft was posted on the web without her permission, which she considers “a huge violation of my rights as an author, not to mention me as a human being.”

Writing about it poses a dilemma;

I’d rather my fans not read this version of Midnight Sunthe writing is messy and flawed and full of mistakes. But how do I comment on this violation without driving more people to look for the illegal posting?

In the end, she decided to post the draft on her site so her fans “don’t have to make a sacrifice to stay honest.”

Under the Radar; ‘The Black Tower’

Friday, August 29th, 2008

In his review of Louis Bayard’s The Black Tower in today’s Wall Street Journal, Robert Hughes says the author “has emerged as a writer of historical thrillers in the vein of Caleb Carr.”

The current Entertainment Weekly calls it “delicious.” Set in Paris in 1818, the book concerns a “sad-sack hero” whose life is changed by a flamboyant figure,  based on the legendary French detective Eugène François Vidocq. Marilyn Stasio, in her 8/22 NYT review says,

The real-life Vidocq was unmatched as a figure of romantic legend. On the run as a thief, he offered his services to the law, becoming so adept at catching criminals that in 1811 he was named the first chief of the Sûreté, whose detective ranks he filled with former miscreants like himself.

Vidocq is determined to figure out if Marie Antoinette’s son really died in prison, or if he can still find him alive.

There are few holds showing in libraries I checked, so readers advisory librarians may actually have an opportunity to put the book into customer’s hands.


  • Hardcover: $24.95
  • Publisher: William Morrow (August 26, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0061173509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061173509
  • Audio CD: Unabridged, 8CD, Library Edition, $90
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks, (September 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433246586
  • Audio Cassette: Unabridged, 7 tapes, Library Edition, $72.95
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks, (September 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433246579
  • Large Print, Paperback: $24.95, 512 pages
  • Publisher: HarperLuxe (September 16, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 006166832X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061668326

Kakutani on ‘American Wife’

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Oh, boy! It’s Michiko Kakutani taking on American Wife in the NYT today. You can almost hear the knife being sharpened.

But, hold on, the Mikey of book reviewers kind of likes it!

Turns out author Sittenfeld, who hates George W. Bush, likes his wife (she wrote an essay for Salon in January, 2004 called Why I love Laura Bush) and does a “nimble Job” of getting under Laura’s skin. She creates some imaginative scenes — “her account of a family gathering at the family’s Kennebunkport-like vacation home is wickedly hilarious” — but when she writes about George W., the author, begins “using [her] heroine as a sock puppet for her own views on the unhappy tenure of the Bush administration.”

Kakutani relates the book to Joe Klein’s 1996 Primary Colors which attracted “a lot of readers” (reminder: it was a major bestseller) because they “thought they were getting a roman à clef about Bill and Hillary Clinton.” Kakutani rarely speculates on a book’s potential popularity, but she predicts American Wife will have an appeal similar to Primary Colors, also attracting “a lot of readers.”

So far, library reserve patterns don’t reflect that. Since I checked yesterday, reserves have ticked up only slightly at four large library systems. There are now a total of 423 reserves on 166 copies (in both audio and print), which is slightly more than 2.5 per copy. 

American Wife

Curtis Sittenfeld

  • Hardcover: $26.00
  • Publisher: Random House (September 2, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1400064759
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400064755
  • Audio CD: Abridged, $34.95
  • Reader: Kimberly Farr
  • Publisher: Random House; (September 2, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0739323865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739323861

USA Today Bestsellers, 8/28

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Backlash? What backlash? Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series now holds all four top spots on the USA Today bestseller list. Amazing as it seems, there must still be new people discovering the series, since the first title, Twilight, is in the #2 spot.

It’s clear from the list that we’re into the school season, with To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Of Mice and Men, Lord of the Flies and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary rising or reappearing on the list (which makes it a smart idea to do mid-summer classics replacement list each year).

As USA Today‘s Book Buzz column points out, books related to upcoming movies are on the rise:

  • #8 Nights in Rodanthe, Nicholas Sparks,  (movie opens Sept. 26).
  • #34 The Road, Cormac McCarthy (the movie, with Viggo Mortensen, opens Nov. 26)

But the movie-related title that’s been on the list the longest is for a movie that doesn’t actually open until next year, The Watchmen, at #14 after 6 weeks. RH announced in its library marketing newsletter yesterday that the title will be re-released in hardcover on Nov. 8 (ISBN: 978-1-4012-1926-0 (1-4012-1926-8).

Debut Hardcover Titles:

  • #15 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Del Rey
  • #33 Eat This Not That! For Kids! David Zinczenko, Rodale; the Monday Today show appearance was too late to affect this list, which reflects sales through Sunday, so we might expect this to move higher next week. In addition to this new version of the bestselling title for adults, Eat This, Not That! Supermarkets! comes out in late December. None of the titles are eligible for the NYT list, because they are considered calorie counting books, which the Times does not track.
  • #135 Rough Justice, Jack Higgins, Putnam

Moving Up:

Back on:

  • #56 The Gift of Fear, Gavin De Becker, Dell; Oprah’s Jan. 29 show featuring De Becker re-ran on Monday, 8/18
  • #60 Six Disciplines Execution Revolution, Gary Harpst, Six Disciplines Publishing
  • #75 The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren, Zondervan

Moving Down:

Big-name, repeat authors hit the list high, but then move down very quickly. Meanwhile, the slow-building Story of Edgar Sawtelle, has hung on for 11 weeks (it could move up next week; author Wroblewski was interviewed by Meredith Viera on the Today Show this morning.)

  • #28 Acheron, Sherrilyn Kenyon, St. Martin’s from #17 last week, after 3 weeks
  • #58 Dangerous Days of Daniel X, James Patterson, Little, Brown, from #38, after 5 weeks
  • #63 Moscow Rules, Daniel Silva, Putnam, from #33 after 5 weeks
  • #70 The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, David Wroblewski, Ecco from #65, after 11 weeks
  • #88 Money and the Law of Attraction, from #22, after 2 weeks
  • #93 Tribute, Nora Roberts, Putnam, from #52, after 7 weeks
  • #95 Mercedes Coffin, Faye Kellerman, Morrow, from #66, after 2 weeks
  • #96 Foreign Body, Robin Cook, Putnam, from #74 after 3 weeks
  • #115 Love the One You’re With, Emily Griffin, St. Martin’s Press, from #88 after 15 weeks
  • #134 Fearless Fourteen, Janet Evanovich, St. Martin’s Press, from #15 after 10 weeks

The Sleeper of the Fall?

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

We suggested earlier that The Good Thief, which is on order in small quantities in most libraries, is a title to watch.

Today’s New York Times seems to bear that out. Janet Maslin gives it a very strong review, calling it “darkly transporting.” She relates it to The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, saying that in both books “the reader can find plain-spoken fiction full of traditional virtues: strong plotting, pure lucidity, visceral momentum and a total absence of writerly mannerisms.”

Good Thief 

Hannah Tinti

  • Hardcover: $26; 336 pages
  • Publisher: The Dial Press (August 26, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0385337450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385337458

Portrait of Laura

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

When excerpts of the novel, American Wife were posted in early July, the obvious references to the life of the current first lady (and the fact that the excerpts were “steamy”) brought some strident protests. Maureen Dowd, who clearly read more than just the excerpts, jumped into the fray and defended the book, saying the portraits of the First Couple “are trenchant and make you like them more.”

The book will be released on Tuesday; USA Today features a review today. Noting that the book’s release date coincides with the Republican National Convention, the review says author Curtis Sittenfeld (who, in case you are wondering, is a woman), “creatively fills in the blanks” of the Laura Bush story (actually, the Alice Blackwell story, as the main character is named).

Reading the book could bring on a curious feeling, which USA Today describes,

It may be impossible for readers not to picture President and Mrs. Bush while reading about Alice and Charlie. This gives the novel cinematic qualities that enhance the experience. But explicit sex scenes will make you feel like a voyeur.

In a sidebar, USA Today tries to discover if the First Lady will be indulging in that voyeurism (talk about a multi-layered experience). A spokesperson says she “has no plans to read [it].”

So far, reserves are not heavy at the four large library systems I checked. They show a total of 166 copies on order in both print and audio, with 410 reserves, which is about 2.5 per copy.

American Wife

Curtis Sittenfeld

  • Hardcover: $26.00
  • Publisher: Random House (September 2, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1400064759
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400064755
  • Audio CD: Abridged, $34.95
  • Reader: Kimberly Farr
  • Publisher: Random House; (September 2, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0739323865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739323861

New Readers; Keep ’em Coming

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

It’s great to see how many new readers are coming to the site from our link on Unshelved this week.

We’re also gratified that our “old readers” keep coming back. It’s fascinating to see the creative ways librarians use EarlyWord. Here’s some of the things we hear:

  • EarlyWord reminds me to buy audio and large type formats of titles that become popular; I don’t always have that information available when I first order a title
  • I use the “books to movies” information as basis for a “Read the Book Before You See the Movie” section on the library’s Web site
  • EW helps me focus on books getting heavier reserves than expected
  • It’s great to have the catalogs all in one place; they give me insight into which titles publishers will be promoting heavily
  • It’s helpful to see what’s getting reserves in other libraries. Our community doesn’t do a lot of reserving, so we can’t use that as a guide for what we need more of. 
Let us know how you’re using EarlyWord and what you’d like to see on it. And, please, share your insights (either via comments, or email me here). We want EarlyWord to become a community of librarians working together to “give ’em what they want.”

Penguin Now on OverDrive

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

OverDrive announced today that Penguin audio and eBook are now downloadable from their system. Libraries can add the titles to their collections by going to OverDrive’s collection development portal at

Penguin imprints include:

  • G.P. Putnam’s Sons
  • Viking
  • Berkley Books
  • Dutton
  • Riverhead Books
  • New American Library
  • Grosset & Dunlap
  • Penguin Books
  • The Penguin Press
  • Philomel
  • Plume
  • Puffin

‘House at Sugar Beach’ in People

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

The next Starbuck’s Pick, The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper, is the lead book review in People this week (9/8; Jessica Simpson on the cover. She’s in love — again).

The book, a memoir of the author’s privileged childhood in Liberia, which her family had to escape in 1980, gets 3 1/2 out of a possible 4 stars.

The author set sweet, funny stories…against the darker canvas of [her parent’s] divorce…Nearly three decades after fleeing Liberia, Cooper offers an indelible view of her homeland and makes palpable the pain that she felt when she lost it.

The book was also reviewed in the Spring ’08 issue of Ms. Magazine (review not posted online).

Ordering in the libraries I checked is light (the prepub reviews were good, but not overly enthusiastic). Reserves are building, but still at comfortable levels (four holds to one copy). None have ordered the audio or large type editions.

The House at Sugar Beach

Helene Cooper

  • Hardcover: $26.00
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 2, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0743266242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743266246
  • Simon & Schuster Audio, September 2008
  • 9 Compact Disks (Unabridged)
  • Read by: The Author
  • ISBN-10: 0-7435-7951-8
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-7435-7951-3
  • Large Type, Hardcover: $31.95
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press; (September 2, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1410410382
  • ISBN-13: 978-1410410382

Reserve Alert ‘The Likeness’

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

In NPR’s regular feature, “Books We Like,” Barrie Hardymon praises both of Tana French’s psychological thrillers; In the Woods (2007, which won the Edgar for best first novel; it has been on the NYT Paperback Fiction bestseller list since its release in that format) and The Likeness (July).

Reviewers have trouble figuring out how to describe the appeal of French’s books. Hardymon says that, in Into the Woods, French,

…audaciously denied the closure that mystery fans crave; one of the crimes remained unsolved. Readers hoping that this follow-up novel would deliver that resolution should be disappointed for about a minute and a half — the time it takes for the new story to grip.

In The Likeness, the main character takes on the identity of a murder victim,

…inheriting an intense and exclusive group of friends…[this] cagily charismatic group drinks, banters, screws and harbors its intimacies as seductively as the oddballs in Donna Tartt’s classic The Secret History. As in that novel, the thrill comes in exploring the peculiar, collective psychology of the clique — the members of which keep secrets about Lexie’s murder from outsiders and each other.

Reserves are running five to one in some areas on The Likeness, six weeks after publication. The book will also be coming out in large type in October.



  • Hardcover: $25.95
  • Publisher: Viking, (July 17, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0670018864
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670018864
  • Large Type: $30.95
  • Publisher: Thorndike
  • Pub. Date: October 03, 2008
  • ISBN-139781410410115
  • ISBN 101410410110

“Book Trailer” — an Oxymoron?

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Book videos rarely rise to the level of movie trailers (the production values of Dark Knight require a lot of cash), but a few have managed to pull off pretty effective videos precisely by not going Hollywood (the one for Yiddish with George and Laura still makes me laugh).

And, then, there are videos with great production values, that make you wonder what they actually do for the book (case in point; Celubatantes).

Brad Meltzer believes the medium can work, so he created a “trailer” for Book of Lies, coming out next week. As he told Entertainment Weekly‘s “PopWatch” blog last week,

I had seen so many book trailers which were exactly like every other book commercial you see: scary-voice-guy tells you what it says on the back of the book jacket. But none of those trailers ever invested you in the story. Or the characters. And that’s what the best movie trailers do. So I wrote what you see. Brandon Graham and Expanded Books did the filming and production. I treated it like my own personal independent film. The goal was to create the trailer for the greatest movie that didn’t exist. And then, like any independent film, I called in some friends. The goal was simple: we wanted to change how books are sold (how’s that for presumptuous?)

I’m convinced, but don’t just take my word for it; after, all it did manage to get “PopWatch” to turn its attention from movies & tv for a second, and mention a book.

Judge for yourself:





  • Hardcover: $25.99; 352 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (September 2, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 044657788X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446577885
  • Audio CD: Unabridged; $29.08
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio; (September 2, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1600243800
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600243806

Corsi and ‘The Big Lie’

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

The affect of Jerome Corsi’s book Obama Nation is examined in the New Yorker this week by the magazine’s main political commentator, Hendrik Hertzberg.

Although enumerating the book‘s “fabrications and distortions” as the Obama campaign has done, is necessary, he says, it “can leave the impression of quibbling over details. The problem for Obama isn’t little lies. It’s the Big one.” The real harm of the book he says, is how it feeds “the sprawling conservative slander industry.”

Biden in Trade Paper

Monday, August 25th, 2008

We just got word from Random House that they are releasing Joe Biden’s Promises to Keep in trade paperback. The book became a bestseller on Amazon over weekend, and is still at #25. Evidently, RH expects interest in the vp candidate to continue throughout the campaign; they are printing 150,000 copies. 

The edition will be available 8/29. Random is also reprinting the hardcover; that printing will be available this week.





ISBN: 978-0-8129-7621-2