Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rep Night the Fourth, 2010--Selections from Macmillan and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

There is nothing like discussing corporate name changes, and our final reps of the season had sold lines under several different umbrella names (as did many of our other reps--the corporate lineage for the current Random House, at least in terms of ownership, is Bantam, which was the first major acquistion by Bertelsman in the U.S. Now it's just an imprint of one of its three trade publishing groups).

Ellen came from Minnesota, still a regional headquarters for sales reps, though certainly not with as many as their used to be. They have a book club. I don't know what they are reading. Several of the titles were familiar to us, including Art and Max, the new David Wiesner picture book, which came with a display contest that involved coloring the promotional piece. Here is our entry, as well as several others.

There's a Little Prince graphic novel (who else thinks he looks like Stewie on Family Guy?) and a revision of David Macaulay's older work in the brand new, colorized, Built to Last (made up of Cathedral, Castle, and Mosque). We almost put Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night on our owl table, but the actual book has artwork and poetry about other nocturnal creatues too, such as raccoons and snails. Perhaps displayed with the snail bank? Lots of great reviews on this one.

One novel that seemed particularly compelling to me is Annexed, a novel that explores the Anne Frank story from the vantage point of 16-year-old Peter. Author Sharon Dogar fleshes out the lives of the other people trapped with the Franks. There has been some starred advance reviews, but the Anne Frank Trust is not happy with the whole thing. I'm a little confused about these trusts that own dead people like Anne Frank and Martin Luther King.

On the adult side, Maripsoa Road, by Robert Michael Pyle, is a quest for a butterfly year, the way several books of the past few years chased bird breeds. According to my tip sheet, the author is coming to Next Chapter on December 11th. Should be a nice event.

There were also some great cookbooks on the list. Dorie Greenspan's Around my French Table is out of stock with the publisher (we still have at least one) but is supposedly coming back in early December. Who didn't start salivating when Michele Norris cooked pumpkin stuffed with everything good with Greenspan on All Things Considered? Here's the segment.

Another great cookbook is the Gourmet Cookie Book, with their favorite cookie recipe for every year of over seven decades. Sara Moulton was on Wisconsin Public Radio's Here on Earth discussing the book, how they picked the recipes, and why cookies with lard (yes, there's at least one recipe in the book) are so darn flakey. And since I heard the program, I know that Moulton would like folks to know she was not executive editor of Gourmet, but executive chef. The former honor, as we all know, went to Ruth Reichl. Listen to the interview here.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention one of Carl's favorite novels of the year, Bruce Machart's The Wake of Forgiveness, with echoes of Faulkner, and a great rec for Cormac McCarthy fans.

Anne sells Macmillan trade, but as folks know, they don't really have a Macmillan imprint, even though that was an esteemed old imprint, but their main lines are St. Martin's Press, Henry Holt, and Farrar Straus Giroux. Plus a whole mess of other ones, like Minotaur for mysteries and Tor for science fiction and fantasy. And kids books, lots of kids books.

Why not talk about kids book's first? I'm drawn to Miss Lina's Ballerinas, as they are part of the little girl trinity, along with princesses and kittens*. Grace Maccarone's book is said to be an homage to Madeline, the story of eight young ballerinas, Christina, Edwina, Sabrina, Justina, Katrina, Bettina, Marina, and Nina, whose dance moves are thrown off by the addition of the new girl, Regina.
A young boy might be drawn to The Book of Bad Things: A Sinister Guide to History's Dark Side, by Count Droffig, also known as Clive Gifford. Now this author has done books on soccer skills and the like, so the question is whether this stuff is real or not. We had an argument in the store today as to whether it was or not. The kitten died!

Jason's favorite (the buyer, not the rep) loves Ernest, the Moose Who Wouldn't Fit, by Catherine Rayner. What he doesn't fit in is the book itself. A mouse helps him try to adjust, and some paper folding trickery gives the story a happy ending.

Like many reps (and booksellers), Anne uses her family to gauge interest in her new titles. One book that both her nieces are hot for is Lady Gaga: Critical Mass Fashion. It's not a bio (what bio?) but a picture book of her outrageus outfits.

Several of the novels that Anne touted have already been gettin a lot of play in the store, what with Jason's favorite Skippy Dies and Louise Penny's Bury Your Dead, which got a rave from Anne and should be ready to break out into general bestsellerdom. One fiction book that did surprisingly well in cloth (as it hit just about every best-of) is The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, now in paperback.

The book I took home with me was America the Edible, by Adam Richman. He's the host of Man Vs. Food, a popular cable show. This book, however, moves in a slightly different direction, tracing the origin of things like Southern Fried Chicken (Scotland) and the bagel was some tribute to a stirrup or something. Hey, I have to read the book.

*Or you could substitute ponies. Amie says I am forgotting fairies. She also reminds me that of course this is a blanket genalization and should not be used to make assumptions about any individual little girl. But remember, even Lisa Simpson loves ponies.

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