Friday 18 January 2013

Compass Points 27

Your weekly round up of publishing news, publicity information and trivia!

Well – are you a snow fairy – or more of a white witch – do you love it or hate it? Either way, looks like most of us in the UK are getting some today! Here are some amazing creations from China to inspire you when you get home and are wondering what to create in your back garden!

And if you’re lucky enough to be heading off shortly to somewhere where there’s enough snow to actually ski properly – don’t forget to check out the bluffer's guide to skiing – lots of hilarious and  invaluable advice. Never again need you confuse a schuss with a pschitt, a piste with an abfahrt, or a pig-on-planks with a vache espagnole. The first four brand new editions in the Bluffer's Guide series are out in March. This 5-million-copy bestselling series has been providing insider knowledge to get readers out of trouble for over 40 years, and is jam packed full of instant expertise, jargon and ready-made wit. The new editions have a very striking and stylish new look to them, and the witty Bluffer's Guide website www.bluffer' can only increase sales of this popular and well known brand. The Daily Mail said “The Bluffer’s Guides present the means to apparent instant erudition without actually having to know or study anything.”  while the Telegraph commented that they contain “an amazing amount of solid fact disguised as frivolous observation.” The first four titles cover sex, skiing, wine, and James Bond – pretty much all you need in life – or in your bookshop for that matter. Order them below.

Now, apart from skiing, what else does all this wintry weather make us think of? Yes, that’s right – Scandi crime – the trend which shows absolutely no sign of abating in 2013. And we’ve got a cracker for you coming from Hesperus in June. The appropriately named Cold Courage is a gripping psychological thriller debut by award-winning Finnish author Pekka Hiltunen – skilfully paced, intense and intelligent. This is his debut novel and it has really set Denmark on fire! It was nominated for the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize for debut novelists; it won the Kaarle Prize, and was also awarded the Clue of the Year Prize 2012 for Best Finnish Crime Novel.  It is set in London, and begins with a brutal murder – a Latvian prostitute has been killed, her body run over by a bulldozer and then placed in the trunk of a car to be found.  The book’s main character Lia meets Mari in a late night bar one night and feels fate might have brought them together. Like her, Mari is a Finnish woman in London finding her way, somewhat of an outsider, very independent. But there is much more to Mari than meets the eye: she is a psychologist who possesses an unnatural way of being able to ‘read’ people, see into their inner most thoughts and pre-empt their actions. She uses her ‘gift’ to try to help people and has formed a close unit she calls the Studio, a kind of team of investigators, who are not beyond breaking the law to put the worlds to rights… The author of Cold Courage, Pekka Hiltunen said ”I have been overwhelmed by the response to the first novel. The prizes and nominations in Finland, so many glowing reviews, the translation deals, and dozens of messages from readers asking when can they read the next one. I think it shows there is a need for books like this: a sense of adventure in a modern thriller, smart and complex people you can really relate to as heroes. Many people have commented they felt stronger, even comforted in their every day life after reading the first book. That’s one of the best compliments a writer can get.” If you would like to read a proof of Cold Courage then please email

There are loads of great films out at the moment – but the ones which seems to be attracting the biggest Oscar buzz (it’s nominated for 12) of all is the Stephen Spielberg directed Lincoln. You can watch the trailer above – it opens in the UK on 25 January.  All of this should really increase the awareness of a terrific book available in B-format paperback from Booker shortlisted published Myrmidon: Mrs Lincoln by Janis Cooke Newman.This title was originally published in the US under the title Mary and was USA Today’s Best Historical Fiction of the Year, and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist. It tells the true story of Mary Lincoln, who was incarcerated in an insane asylum after committal proceedings instigated by her own son, Mary Todd Lincoln was the original ‘First Lady’ and is already a figure of some notoriety in the USA. British readers introduced to her for the first time will encounter a fascinating, complex and captivating heroine of history. This book will appeal to fans of Philippa Gregory, Alison Wier and similar authors – and got the most amazing reviews. The Sunday Telegraph said “this epic drama exerts an exceptional pull … an impressive, engrossing and moving piece of historical imagining and characterisation.” And the Times called it “a tender and thoughtful portrait of a 19th century woman severely misunderstood … plenty to inspire and is all the more poignant for a timely arrival.” USA Today said it was “one of those rare books that turns the reader into an admiring fan of both the author and her subject. You feel a compulsion to urge others to read it. Newman gives Mary a riveting voice … you’ll view stout little Mrs. Lincoln – and her 19th-century sisters – in a new, more respectful light.” You can read an extract from this extraordinary book here on the Myrmidon website – I urge you to have a look – it really is fascinating! Get that American Civil War window display organised – and order copies of Mrs Lincoln here.
Which dead celebrities are virtually guaranteed to sell book? Yes, of course Marilyn – and Elvis.  And Elvis Memories by Michael Freedland is not just another Elvis Presley biography, although it gets closer to the real Elvis story than many of the hundreds of other books. As the author Michael Freedland puts it in his introduction, “Everyone knows Elvis”. But not the way his close friends, employees and others who entered his life knew him. For this is their story, told in their words. Freedland interviews those who knew Elvis intimately; from the now elderly woman who was at school with him and whose parents foreclosed on the shack they rented to Elvis’ mother when his father was in jail; to the maid who prepared his peanut butter sandwiches and hamburgers and watched him line up the girls he wanted to take to his bed. In between, we meet  the black man who remembered sneaking into a local  cinema with his pal in defiance of most of the Deep  South race laws, members of the so-called ‘Memphis  Mafia’ who went where he went, laughed when he  laughed and suffered when he suffered – and usually  received a brand new Cadillac for their troubles.  There’s also his doctor who denies giving him fatal doses of the drugs he collected along with the hamburgers. Writer and broadcaster Michael Freedland went all over the West Coast and Southland to talk to  these people who shared Elvis’ life, telling the complex  Elvis Presley story in a way more true to the real man  than the usual collection of dates, film and song titles.

And why not while a few a few moments watching the King at his best!

So what were the bestselling titles of 2012? Here's the list of the top 50 titles . And this list shows both the eBook and the print book sales – so you can really see whether your customers are turning pages or turning on their Kindles Are the big sellers the ones which sold best in your bookshop? Any surprises in there? For me it was interesting how many of the top titles are children’s books – David Walliams and the Wimpy Kid series both feature frequently – as well as the Beano Annual, and of course the Guinness Book of Records has a lot of child readers too. In most of these instances the eBook sales are a low proportion of the total – or are non existent – so it looks as if at least the kids are still reading print copies – for now! And congratulations to the Compass success story of 2012: The Hundred Year Old Man Who Jumped Out of a Window and Disappeared – which just made it into the list at number 48!

This newsletter is sent weekly to over 550 booksellers. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please click here to go to the Compass New Titles Website.

That’s all for now folks, more next week!

1 comment:

  1. I read that Mrs Lincoln book when it first came out - it's amazing.