Friday 3 March 2017

Compass Points 204

How hilarious was “the wrong envelope” cock up at the Oscars last Sunday?! It certainly provided us with yet another reason to totally adore Ryan Gosling  look here at his highly-amused reaction when all around him were taking the blunder WAY too seriously!
Yes, there’s no doubt about it; the man is a god, and 100 Reasons to Love Ryan Gosling (£12.99, pb, 978 0859655019) published by Plexus provides plenty of scientifically irrefutable evidence of exactly why he is so damn loveable. Packed with trivia, jokes, and over 100 full-colour photos; you know you need it in your bookshop now. Envelopegate also got me thinking about the many books that have featured a misdelivered message – what about the moment in Tess of the D’Urbervilles where Tess’s letter never reaches Angel – or Juliet’s message that tragically never gets to Romeo?
And what about our very own French Rhapsody by Antoine Laurain (pb, £8.99, 978 1910477380) published last autumn by Gallic Press; where middle-aged doctor Alain Massoulier receives a life-changing letter – thirty-three years too late. Lost in the Paris postal system for decades, the letter offers a recording contract to his younger self in the days when he played lead guitar in a band. Overcome by nostalgia, Alain is tempted to track down the members of the group. But where could his quest possibly take him? Both a modern fairytale and state-of-the-nation novel, French Rhapsody combines Antoine Laurain’s signature charm and whimsy with a searing critique of the state of contemporary France, and had some superb reviews – “Beautifully written, superbly plotted and with a brilliant twist at the end” said the Daily Mail. How about a Letters and Envelopes book or window display?!
The average 8-year-old child spends nearly 10 hours a day on digital media. This makes digital consumption second only to sleep as their leading activity. It’s not news to us that kids are using their digital devices all day, every day. But does this really matter? “Why does my son scream when I try to get him off the computer? Is my daughter honest about her Internet activities? Just how much screen time is too much? What effect is all of this technology having on my child’s learning and behaviour?” are all questions parents ask – a lot. Digital Kids: How to Balance Screen Time and Why It Matters by Martin Kutscher is the first book of its kind to lay out the facts and figures surrounding excessive internet use. Drawing on cutting edge research and expert scientific opinion, Martin pinpoints exactly what effect digital addiction is having on our children’s brains and development – and the reasons why we should be worried about it. Outlining the full range of neurological, psychological and physical implications, from stunted cognitive development and shortening attention spans, to depression, aggression and obesity; Digital Kids highlights the real dangers of too much screen time for the iPad generation. This book is an eye-opening journey through the ins and outs of cyberspace, offering practical strategies on how to maintain a healthy screen-life balance. Digital Kids: How to Balance Screen Time and Why It Matters by Martin Kutscher is now available in paperback from Jessica Kingsley.
So, what better way to get those pesky ankle biters off their screens than by suggesting they get their information from the excellent new My First Encyclopaedia of… series from Armadillo Books. My First Encyclopaedia of Dinosaurs (978 1861478207), My First Encyclopaedia of Animals (978 1861478221) My First Encyclopaedia of Birds (978 1861478214) and My First Encyclopaedia of Bugs (978 1861478238) all by Matt Bugler are paperback, 24 page, giant (400 x 344mm) picture books for 4-8 year olds and are the perfect introduction at a great price (£6.99) for kids keen to find out more. In their supersized lightweight format, the book can be read on the floor, held up by a teacher or parent to show and share with a group, and enjoyed by all children whether alone or with others. Thematic spreads and beautiful large illustrations by expert natural history artists are full of incredible accuracy and detail – thanks for a super display of these My First Encyclopaedia books at the Victoria Bookshop in Haverford West which you can see here!
Staying with children’s books for a moment, Lotte Moore is an 80-year-old writer on a mission. During the war, having been evacuated, and then at school, Lotte often found herself feeling lonely and turned to writing to express her feelings of isolation. Lotte's War tells the story of one 5-year-old girl's experiences living in Britain during the Second World War, a time of hardship, heroism and hope. As a child, Lotte may not have been fully aware of the dangers and struggles around her, but her memories of rationing, evacuation, barrage balloons, bombing, blackouts and bunkers give an incredible insight into life during wartime Britain. Lotte's War shows what children did, how they survived rationing, how they coped as evacuees, and what they felt about the war. Lotte talks about the bravery shown by people and the amazing friendships that she made and shares her memories of an incredible life with today's young generation, so they can experience a unique view of Britain through the eyes of a child in World War II. “A wonderful piece of social history, and memoir, which would be of great interest to children and adults alike. There is a gaiety and lightness of touch which leavens, but does not romanticize, the dark realities of a nation at war. Beautiful drawings and photographs adorn this treasure of a book …  one feels richer for reading it.” said one reviewer. Lotte’s War (£5.99, pb, 978 1911331575) is published by Urbane.
Should a book be “readable” or should it be good? Can it be both? Ben Roth has written a really thought-provoking essay here where he argues that “Readable, like “drinkable,” seems almost an insult: this book isn’t good, but you’ll be able to finish it.  Readable books are full of familiar characters, familiar plots, and most especially familiar sentences.  They are built up out of constituent commonplaces and clichés that one only has to skim in order to process.  A little bit literary, perhaps, but not too literary.  To praise a book as readable is really just to say that you won’t have to add it your shelf with the bookmark having migrated only halfway through its leaves … “Readable” has become the chosen term of praise in our times precisely because so many of us find ourselves unable to concentrate as we once could or still aspire to.” 
Happy Birthday Michael Schmitt, who celebrated his 70th birthday yesterday! Michael is founder and MD of Carcanet as well as also being a poet, scholar, critic and translator, general editor of PN Review and one of our absolutely favourite people! Many happy returns Michael – here is a poem from Richard Wilbur in celebration!
Blow out the candles of your cake.
They will not leave you in the dark,
Who round with grace this dusky arc
Of the grand tour which souls must take.
You who have sounded William Blake,
And the still pool, to Plato's mark,
Blow out the candles of your cake.
They will not leave you in the dark.
Yet, for your friends' benighted sake,
Detain your upward-flying spark;
Get us that wish, though like the lark
You whet your wings till dawn shall break:
Blow out the candles of your cake.
I think we all know, that in truth, we all have far too much stuff. As author Kozo Yamamura writes: “Doubt has already been growing among the public about the wisdom of buying and owning a plethora of possessions that clutter our lives” and he argues persuasively that “what we need is a tax on luxuries to help protect the environment by reducing the use of resources to produce the goods and services, which by most rational standards, are far from necessary.” There has just been a big piece on Yamamura’s new book  Too Much Stuff: Capitalism in Crisis in the Independent, which you can read here. In it, Yamamura argues that “despite widening gaps in income and wealth distribution and rising unemployment, the majority of people seem to enjoy the highest standard of living known in human history.  What is needed in the 21st century is a dynamic systemic change of capitalism. It will be a daunting undertaking but to fail to make it would be a grave folly.”
Very sadly indeed, Kozo Yamamura has just died after being ill for a while – you can read a memoriam for him from the University of Washington here.  Yamamura was a world-class scholar and amazingly prolific, writing or editing more than 20 books and scores of articles on the Japanese economy and its history, and on the nature of capitalism. Too Much Stuff: Capitalism in Crisis (hb, 978 1447335658, £19.99) has just been published by Policy Press.

While we’re on the subject of politics; ever since the Brexit referendum in the UK and Donald Trump’s election in the US, the publishing industries of those and other countries have reacted primarily along the liberal lines common to the literary workplace. This week though, a different voice. MD of Biteback, bookseller and radio show host Iain Dale says, “I can’t stand Donald Trump,’ but that the book business response overlooks something: Controversy is always good for publishing.” Iain feels strongly that “it’s not healthy when left-wing book buyers in bookshops subliminally censor what the book buying public is allowed to read.” Read the whole piece here and see if you agree with his views!
Alternatively; you may well enjoy  this piece from the New York Times; a most interesting article about how bookshops in the US are encouraging resistance to Trump with action, not just words. “A lot of people are saying, ‘We’ve turned our store over to the revolution,” said Hannah Oliver Depp, the operations manager for Word, which has bookstores in New Jersey and New York. “I do think that it is going to fundamentally change bookstores and book selling.”
Talking of bookshops over the pond, we very much enjoy hearing about our authors promoting their books in bookshops far and wide. This month we’ve loved photos of two very different authors touring on opposite sides of the world!
Firstly, that Mexican master of satirical humour Juan Pablo Villalobos has been touring cities in America (NYC, DC, SF, LA – doncha love the way you can turn all these capital cities into capital letters!) to promote I’ll Sell You a Dog (978 1908276742, £10.00, pb) published by And Other Stories.

And secondly, Polygon award-winning Malachy Tallack us currently touring Australia to introduce his gorgeous illustrated title The Un-Discovered Islands: An Archipelago of Myths and Mysteries, Phantoms and Fakes which was the recent winner of the Edward Stanford Illustrated Travel Book of the Year. Malachy was last sighted at the beautiful Berkelouw Mona Vale Bookshop in Sydney – the largest and oldest bookshop in Australia – two days ago! He’s certainly a very long way from his home in Shetland!

And finally – here’s a fun idea! Vikki Reilly and Kristian Kerr have done something a little special as part of Birlinn’s 25th anniversary year celebrations. They’ve created a brilliant 45-minute podcast, entitled A Hitch-hiker’s Guide to Scottish Literature. In each episode, they’ll talk about a particular text, whether a novel, a collection of poetry, a play or classic non-fiction. They chat about its themes, context and their own responses while also interviewing writers, including performances, and there’s always a segment celebrating the Birlinn list, on works that connect with the main subject of the episode. What a great plan! You can listen to the January episode (which celebrates Burns) here  and the February one here which I’ll talk more about next week!

Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. This week we bring you some words of wisdom from @JennieBrownBooks at the Society of Young Publishers @SYP_UK who are having a conference in Edinburgh this week.
A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
After the recession, the book work is now full of optimism. Bookshop figures are looking up.
Network, build connections, move around, talk about books, work in London, work abroad, be persistent, never give up!
Publishers should travel more to meet authors and make an effort to connect. Especially those based in LDN.
Important to remember: you're a debut author only once and bad debut sales can break a career.
Launching a debut with tiny budgets can be done. You need creativity and a clear strategy.
Publishers should involve authors more in the publishing process and to show genuine enthusiasm for their work. 
Our industry is uniquely vibrant. We have almost 50 literary festivals in the UK. The most in the world per country.
Don't leave authors on their own on publication day. Send cards, flowers, etc. Make them feel valued.
Writers, on average earn 12k a year. Less than a publishing salary.
Final plea: never publish a book with the word "the girl" in the title.
That’s all for now folks! More next week!
This blog is taken from a newsletter  which is sent weekly to over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696.

No comments:

Post a Comment