Under the BookPage Christmas tree…

December 25, 2009

For fun, we asked 14 authors what books they plan to give away for the holidays. And then we turned around and asked ourselves. Read on for staff selections. What books did you give away this year?

This is pretty oddball, but I’m giving a copy of Comic Con: 40 Years of Artists, Writers, Fans, And Friends (Chronicle) to my teenage son who loves comic books and hopes to attend Comic Con himself one day. The book is a large-format, illustrated look at the history of the show.
—Lynn, Editor

My dad is a huge fan of literary fiction, so I’m giving him John Irving’s Last Night in Twisted River (Random House) and E.L. Doctorow’s Homer & Langely (Random House). Irving and Doctorow are two of his favorite writers and I know he is excited about their new books
—Abby, Fiction Editor

I’m giving The Lacuna (HarperCollins) to my mom, who loves both Mexico and art history, and The Education of a British-Protected Child (Knopf Doubleday) by Chinua Achebe to my dad, who loves both postcolonial writers and childhood memoirs.
—Kate, Nonfiction Editor

I’m giving City of Thieves (Penguin) by David Benioff to my grandfather. This book has been a hit with everyone I’ve recommended it to, including my brother, who hadn’t read a book in years before I loaned him my copy. My grandfather loves novels about World War II and has visited St. Petersburg, where the novel is set, so I think he’ll enjoy this one.
—Trisha, Web Editor

My 18-year-old sister just started college in New York (1,300 miles away from home!), so I’m giving her a copy of Ann Packer’s The Dive from Clausen’s Pier (Random House). I think my sis will appreciate the story of a young woman’s search for independence—plus, Packer does great descriptions of NYC.
—Eliza, Assistant Web Editor

Best of 2009: Top 10 Fiction

December 14, 2009

It took two rounds of voting and several discussions, but we’ve finally distilled the long list of wonderful novels published in 2009 into a list of 10. Unlike a certain book trade publication, we went overwhelmingly female with this list, which nonetheless includes a variety of genres and combines old favorites with new names.

A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein
A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Lark and Termite by Jayne Ann Phillips
The City & The City by China Mieville
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson

Book price war: sweet or sour?

October 19, 2009

Ford County by John GrishamUnder the Dome by Stephen KingThe Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

Depending on how you look at it, last week was a great week for bargain-hunting book buyers or a disheartening one for authors, booksellers and publishers.

Wal-Mart and Amazon have engaged in a price war for the holiday season’s hardcover bestsellers.

On Thursday, Wal-Mart announced that it would pre-sell 10 hardcovers for $10. Amazon matched the price on the same day, then Friday Wal-Mart lowered to $9 – then again to $8.99 (where the price currently stands).

The price of Stephen King’s Under the Dome is a whopping 74% off the $35 cover price. Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna can be bought for a 67% discount. Wal-Mart also offers free shipping for the 10 titles on their list.

In the New York Times, John Grisham’s agent David Gernert expressed his concerns with the low prices:

If readers come to believe that the value of a new book is $10, publishing as we know it is over. If you can buy Stephen King’s new novel or John Grisham’s Ford County for $10, why would you buy a brilliant first novel for $25? I think we underestimate the effect to which extremely discounted best sellers take the consumer’s attention away from emerging writers.

What do The Book Case readers think of the price war? Will you be ordering multiple copies of The Lacuna to give away as gifts, or do you plan on sticking to your local bookseller for a more memorable book-buying experience? Do price cuts like the ones offered by Wal-Mart and Amazon encourage you to buy more books? Would you rather buy a $9 hardcover or a $9.99 e-book?

Barbara Kingsolver is back!

April 22, 2009

Exciting news for Barbara Kingsolver fans—Harper has just announced that they will release The Lacuna, Kingsolver’s first novel in nine years, this November. Kingsolver’s last novel was The Prodigal Summer, following the tremendous success of her blockbuster (and Oprah pick) The Poisonwood Bible.kingsolver2

Seven years in the making, The Lacuna is set in Mexico and the U.S. during the 1930s, 40s and 50s. According to Kingsolver’s publisher, the novel “tells the story of Harrison William Shepherd, a man caught between two worlds—an unforgettable protagonist whose search for identity will take readers to the heart of the twentieth century’s most tumultuous events.” And a bonus for history buffs—The Lacuna includes real-life historical figures like Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Leon Trotsky—a first for Kingsolver’s fiction.

We haven’t read a word of The Lacuna just yet, but Kingsolver is an office favorite and we can’t wait to see what amazing world she has created for her readers this time.