Friday 17 October 2014

Compass Points 102

Hello there! Who’d like to give up their job as a lowly bookseller and become a secret agent? Or maybe some of you are operating in deep cover, and are already on her Majesty’s Secret Service? As Scouting for Girls memorably sang, who doesn’t Wish they Were James Bond – and you can watch a great montage of that pop song here!

This Christmas, everyone can get a taste of life as a Double O with a cracking bit of publishing from Biteback: The Secret Agent's Bedside Reader. This handsome hardback is a terrific collection of thrilling and absorbing stories told by some of the greatest spies and spy writers ever.  Daring wartime plans devised by Ian Fleming to steal an Enigma machine for the Bletchley Park code breakers sit side by side with reports from MI6 traitor Kim Philby to Moscow Centre, operations in Bolshevik Russia, and the literary spy stories of Joseph Conrad and Erskine Childers. This is the ultimate book for those fascinated by espionage and spies, and with its enticing mix of fictional and real spies , there is nothing else available on the market like this. And best of all, the collection is edited by a former intelligence officer and one of the leading authorities on the history of Britain's spies; Michael Smith, who really knows his stuff. Each story is accompanied by an expert introduction from Smith on everything from John Buchan's classic The 39 Steps, to accounts by Sir Paul Dukes and George Hill, two of the earliest heroes of MI6; and descriptions by the Cambridge spies from the KGB archives of the details they passed to the Russians. Stories of espionage never cease to engage and enthral and this really is a perfect Christmas gift for readers of espionage fact and fiction – a colossal market! The Secret Agent's Bedside Reader edited by Michael Smith was published last month by Biteback (£20, hb, 978 1849547406).

Well, in my opinion you can never really have too much of James Bond – so have a watch here  for a very classy 50 years of the suave one – set to Adele’s Skyfall.

The Good Hotel Guide 2015 by Desmond Balmer and Adam Raphael (pb, £20, 9780954940492) was launched at a party last week where they handed out the much coveted awards for the best places to stay in Britain. Awards included Newcomer of the Year, Best Small Hotel, Family Friendly Hotel, Most Dog Friendly Hotel and many more, and there has been plenty of publicity including this big piece in the Daily Mail. The Good Hotel Guide is the market leader. It is totally independent, extremely comprehensive, includes £150 worth of discount vouchers, contains user-friendly colour maps and covers nearly 900 selected hotels in Great Britain and Ireland. This is the peak time of year for your customers to be thinking about their next year’s hols – make the most of the great publicity for this book and keep The Good Hotel Guide 2015 on prominent display!

Now which award would this small hotel in Torquay win do you think? Best view perhaps?!

The dust is still settling – or rather swirling – from the storm that was the Scottish referendum – and opportunely, Biteback have just signed up an insider account of the Scottish independence referendum, by Daily Telegraph journalist Alan Cochrane. Alex Salmond – My Part in his Downfall will be published as a hardback on 18 November, and draws on Cochrane's diaries, columns and interviews with politicians, written over the past three years, covering the entire independence campaign. Cochrane, the Scottish editor of the Telegraph, was described by Salmond's wife as a "ghastly man" and had close access to politicians throughout the events of the campaign. The book is described as an account of "the cynical, the chaotic, the incompetent and the cruel world of politics, sparing no one from with withering observations." Cochrane emerged as one of the Unionist heroes in the  independence battle and used his daily newspaper columns, and long list of Westminster and Scottish contacts to plot behind the scenes, mounting a mission all of his own to see off the Scottish Nationalist threat and bring about the downfall of the SNP leader. Now he reveals how the UK was really won. Through the pages of his detailed diary, kept secretly throughout the three years of the build-up to the referendum, he offers insights into every stage of the historic campaign. With his access to David Cameron, Alistair Darling, Gordon Brown and everyone in between, this is going to be a unique and explosive piece of publishing!  Alex Salmond – My Part in his Downfall by Alan Cochrane (hb, £18.99 978 1849548267) is published by Biteback.

Bookworms, Dog-Ears and Squashy Big Armchairs: A Book Lover’s Alphabet by Heather Reyes has just been selected by Readers Digest as their Book of the Month for December. Readers Digest’s circulation is 214,000, its readership is 986,000 and the digital and print audience per month is 1.1m so this is great publicity.  This endearing title was also the editor’s pick in The Bookseller for November, with Caroline Sanderson saying. “Here's to squashy big armchairs and everyone buying lots of books this Christmas ... this informative compendium of thought-provoking bookish facts and anecdotes, written with the same wit, style and erudition which characterised Reyes' An Everywhere: A Little Book About Reading. A delightful gift for a fellow book-lover”. Bookworms, Dog-Ears and Squashy Big Armchairs: A Book Lover’s Alphabet by Heather Reyes (pb, £8.99, 978 0992636463) is published in November by Oxygen Books and you can order it here.

Current crazes within fiction (The White Queen; A Discovery of Witches), film (Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters) and television (True Blood; Supernatural) prove that our fascination with witchcraft, Wicca and ancient lore is far from over. Charmed: 200 Spells Omens and Charms to Entrance Your Lover is an exquisitely illustrated lavish gift book which offers 200 pearls of ancient wisdom and romantic lore. There is a big market for this sort of nonsense – sorry invaluable hints and potent rituals – for example Titania Hardie’s light-hearted series of spell books have sold well over a million copies in the UK alone. So whether your customers are planning the wedding of their dreams, looking to entrance an elusive new love, or still seeking a soul-mate to set your heart aflame; Charmed (hb, £9.99, 978 0859655262) is for them! It’s published in October by Plexus and you can find out more and order it here.

Let’s have a little burst of Love Potion Number Nine to get us in the mood shall we – loving this cool 1971 version from The Coasters!

That’s China by Mark Kitto is a British entrepreneur’s memoir about his daring attempt to force open China’s closed media sector. To the Chinese communist party, media is state propaganda. No individuals, let alone foreigners will ever have a stake in it. For seven roller-coaster years, Mark Kitto outwitted competitors and jealous partners to build the most popular and profitable English language publishing business in China since 1949. No foreigner in modern times has come so close to the heart of the Chinese propaganda machine on his own terms. Not even Rupert. Told with self deprecating humour, and unsettling honesty; this is that rare thing, a business saga that will have you on the edge of your seat to the final showdown in the highest law court in China. That’s China by Mark Kitto (pb, £9.99, 978 9881677570) is published by Forty-six in November, and Mark will be doing lots of publicity for it – it’s sure to attract attention. His first book, about his experience of living in ChinaChina Cuckoo – was a bestseller, and will be republished next year by Forty-six in an updated edition.

Talking of business entrepreneurs; The Apprentice is back – yay! Sadly, I can’t bring you any Apprentice related publishing, but I can give you a chance to look again at the genius Cassetteboy skit on some of Siralan's finest moments! Enjoy!

And finally – when you  lock up your bookshops this evening and go home, at whatever ungodly hour that may be – please please check to make sure no hapless American tourist is hiding behind that pile of Gone Girls and Awful Aunties! Pity poor David Willis who had been browsing in Waterstone’s in Trafalgar Square yesterday, but went downstairs shortly after 9pm to find the lights out and the shop deserted. Despite calls to the shop’s security and police, he spent two hours trapped inside the darkened store – and was only rescued when he used Twitter to alert the world to his predicament! Read the whole story in the Guardian here.

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

This blog is read by  booksellers as well as publishers and publicists, and gets over 1,500 hits a month! If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please click here to go to the Compass New Titles Website or talk to your Compass Sales representative.

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