Friday 25 January 2013

Compass Points 28

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

What would you say is the biggest serious new story this week? Well, of course it must be David Cameron’s announcement that if the Conservatives win the next election, then there will be a referendum on Britain’s place in Europe. This subject has never been a hotter topic than it is now – and Biteback have the perfect book for anyone who wants to be better informed about the whole subject. Au Revoir Europe? by David Charter is a major polemic on Britain’s complicated relationship with the EU as the 40th anniversary of our membership approaches. This book provides clear and reliable information on both sides of the debate. It shows how much the EU really costs, charts Britain’s declining influence and reveals the plans for ‘more Europe’ being discussed in Brussels. It cuts through the hysteria on both sides of the argument to analyse the alternatives available for business, consumers and diplomats. The central issue of trade, cited by David Cameron as a key reason for continued EU membership, is tackled head-on. The book also explores what leaving the European club would mean for jobs, travel, security and the British way of life “I wanted to believe in Europe,” David Charter said. “But when you are constantly told there is no alternative, the questions start. This book provides the answers.” David Charter has spent five years living and working in Brussels for The Times and this work is the result of his own journey to the heart of the European project. Au Revoir Europe? was published in November in trade paperback at £14.99 and you can order it here.

Happy Burns Night! In a general spirit of celebration of all things Scottish, today is the perfect time to remind you about the three Bob Servant titles: Delete This At Your Peril; Bob Servant: Hero of Dundee and Why Me? The Very Important Emails of Bob Servant by Neil Forsyth. These books have a very strong track record anyway – the first one has sold over 30,000 copies – but the important thing to know is that they form the basis of a brand new BBC comedy series, which started broadcasting this week on BBC4 and BBC2 Scotland. It’s a comedy of embarrassment and ego, similar to The Office; and the BBC is trailing the show on all channels now – you can watch a little clip from it here. Publicity for the show is looking very significant; Brian Cox (the actor playing Bob Servant, not the astronomer!) is being interviewed by Lorraine Kelly, The One Show, Radio 4 and others. The author, Neil Forsyth, is writing a couple of tie in pieces for The Times and the Guardian where he mentions the books – and all the books are stickered to draw attention to the TV series.

Exciting news – the Guardian are to run a big feature and an interview with Karen Gravano, the author of Mob Daughter next week. This is a revealing memoir by the daughter of the Mafia’s most notorious turncoat. She stars in the hit reality TV show Mob Wives, and has been featured in several Daily Mail articles already. Karen Gravano was born in Brooklyn, New York and is the daughter of Sammy ‘the Bull’ Gravano, one of the Mafia’s most feared hit men. With nineteen confessed murders, the former Gambino Family underboss was John Gotti’s right-hand man, and the highest-ranking gangster ever to testify against members of his high profile crime family. To Karen, though, Sammy Gravano was a sometimes elusive but always loving father figure. But by the age of twelve, Karen knew he was a gangster, and as she grew up, while her peers worried about clothes and schoolwork, she was coming face-to-face with crime and murder. She was nineteen when her father turned his back on the Mafia and cooperated with the Feds, which left her family broken and living in fear of retaliation – this is the compelling true account of her life as a Mob daughter. Pretty sensational stuff – and perfect for the media – you will not be surprised to hear that as well as the big piece in the Guardian, there is going to be plenty of publicity in women’s magazines including Bella and Readers Digest next week. Mob Daughter is published on 4 February and this is certain to be a book that your customers will be looking for! True crime stories always sell well – and this is one of the biggest! You can order copies of Mob Daughter here and watch an interview with Karen talking about the book on YouTube below.

What’s that old bookselling adage about how you can’t go wrong with books about crime, Marilyn or cats? Well, this week we can certainly give you two out of three – Oscar the Bionic Cat by Kate Allan is published in March, and we’ve just heard that the Mail on Sunday are going to run extracts from it, starting in February. When Kate’s beloved black cat, Oscar, was found lying severely injured in a field near their Jersey home, she was sure the accident-prone boy had met his end. With both hind legs severed by a combine-harvester, Oscar’s life hung in the balance. But luckily for him, his vet knew Noel Fitzpatrick, star of BBC One’s The Bionic Vet. Noel agreed to try pioneering surgery on Oscar, replacing his legs with specially created prosthetics. Against all odds, Oscar came back from the brink to become the world’s very first bionic cat, and a feline celebrity. This amazing true story of feline survival and human ingenuity will appeal to many readers – not least all of those who watch The Bionic Vet, and the many other “aaahhh bless” animal programmes on the box! Order Oscar the Bionic Cat here If this is your sort of thing and you want to have a look at Oscar, you can see him on YouTube below.

Burma (now Myanmar) is a country much in the news at present.  Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi was recently released from a house arrest that was inflicted by the military junta in 1989, and was on Radio 4 this week choosing her Desert Island Discs. Very few contemporary novels have been set in Burma, but The Art of Hearing Heartbeats (great title – and a gorgeous cover) by Jan-Philipp Sendker changes that. This is a poignant and inspirational love story that will be published in B format paperback in March. When a  successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a  love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will change her life once more. For readers who enjoyed The Snow Child and The Glass Palace this is an intoxicating and lush love story, set in present-day New York and 1950s Burma. The book is already a bestseller in several European countries and the USA, selling over 400,000 copies in Germany alone, and there is a movie in pre-production. The vivid and evocative prose has won praise from critics and readers all over the world and this novel is perfect for reading groups, with many points for discussion such as Romantic love versus Family Love, Colonialism, East versus West and Superstition versus Faith.

As I say, I really love the evocative cover of The Art of Hearing Heartbeats – but what makes a truly great cover is a very personal and much debated topic! Is it all about which jacket will sell the most books – or can a book be great artistically, but not very appealing to the general book buyer? Have a look here to see what a selection of authors and critics felt were the best book cover designs of 2012.

And finally – yes we know it’s cold, yes we know it’s great to have fun in the ice and snow – but please don’t try anything as daft as this German hard man. OK – well then perhaps you should if it’s going to give the rest of us something this hilarious to watch!

This blog is read weekly by 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!

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!

Friday 11 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Compass Points 26 
Your weekly round up of publishing news, publicity information and trivia!

Happy New Year! Here at Compass we have had a good Christmas, with excellent sales for our publisher clients. We hope that the festive season has been good to all UK booksellers! Overall it seems to have been quite a positive year for books. The Telegraph certainly thinks so, and writes today that that the fightback against digital books by real books has now officially begun - you can read the whole article here.

It’s also been a fantastic season for blockbuster film adaptations of books. The Hobbit sold an additional 73,000 copies on the back of the film – despite many reviewers caustically wondering how Peter Jackson could possibly turn such a very short novel into three very (over?) long films! But hey – if it keeps the tills ringing in both cinemas and bookshops – why complain? 

Life of Pi has also been a big book winner thanks to the sumptuous Ang Lee film – sale of the book have jumped 62%. Personally I thought the film was one of the best translations of a book to the screen that I have ever seen. And at one magical moment, the whole screen is filled with an image of Pi, the boat and the tiger –  that faithfully recreates the original hardback jacket of the book – I don’t think I’ve ever seen that done in a film before; please do tell me if you can think of another example!  Yann Martel said originally that he “loved the cover picture by Andy Bridge for the first edition as soon as I saw it” and I found it exhilarating to see a great book jacket used in this imaginative way. Martel also said that “There is a wonderful tradition of complementing literature with dramatic images …they can fuel the imagination of the reader. “ and in my opinion this film certainly does that – do go and see it if you haven’t already! And we’ve still got Les Miserables to come – get your Victor Hugo window displays ready now!

Now, onto new titles. Never mind all of those cookery books and biographies – what we need in the New Year is a really gripping novel. And The Gospel According to Cane is just that. This remarkable book from critically acclaimed author Courttia Newland has been described as “A thrilling read, full of psychological tension and drama.”  It begins with Beverley Cottrell, who appears to have a dream life: a prestigious job, a beautiful husband and new baby boy. But then, one winter afternoon, when her son is barely a few weeks old, Malakay is kidnapped from a parked car. Despite a media campaign, a full police investigation and the offer of a reward, he is never found. Two decades later, Beverley starts to believe that she has finally pieced her life together – until a young man starts to appear wherever she goes. One dark evening the stalker gets past her security door and calls through her letterbox. He tells her not to be scared. He tells her that he is Malakay, her son. Time Out describes Newland as “a truly gifted storyteller. The book is out in paperback in February, and is certain to provoke a lot of discussion. Media coverage is expected to include Mumsnet, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Own, Mail on Sunday’s You Magazine, Daily Express and The Richard and Judy Book Club. You can find out lots more about the book on the author’s own website:

Giants: The Seven Dwarfs of Auschwitz is a remarkable, never-before-told account of the Ovitz family, seven of whose ten members were dwarves. The terrible irony of
the Ovitz’s fate was that being burdened with dwarfism actually helped them to endure the Holocaust. Through research and interviews with the youngest Ovitz daughter, Perla, the troupe’s last surviving member, and other relatives, the authors weave the tale of a beloved and successful family of performers who were famous entertainers in Central Europe until the Nazis deported them to Auschwitz in May 1944.  Descending into the hell of the concentration camp the Ovitz family was separated from other Jewish victims. When Josef Mengele was notified of their arrival, they were assigned better quarters and provided more nutritious food than other inmates. Authors Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negev chronicle Mengele’s experiments upon this family and the creepy fondness he developed for them.  Finally liberated by Russian troops, the family eventually found their way to a new home in Israel where they became wealthy and successful performers. Giants is a powerful testament to the human spirit, and a triumphant tale that no reader will forget. This is an extraordinary story – and as you’d expect, it’s going to get a lot of publicity. It’s published in hardback in February.

Who stood in front of their wardrobe this morning wondering what on earth to wear today (and isn’t it cold!) Well, you weren’t alone. According to Michelle Madhok, shopping expert, style guru and CEO of Shefinds Media, the average woman spends two years of her life doing this. But never fear, there is a solution! Wear This Now shows readers how to dress their best for less and look stylish every single day of the year. Michelle Madhok can tell you when to invest, how to cut wardrobe clutter, what are the must-haves for every season, complete with shopping checklists. It’s written in a fun, girlfriend-to-girlfriend tone, and is the definitive answer to the perennial question: what should I wear? Michelle’s website is massive with over a million visitors a month – so this brand has a lot of fans – which should translate into sales for her book! Have a look at the website if you’re having your own wardrobe crisis, and order the book here.

Following the great Christmas over eating bonanza, would you describe yourself as supersize or superskinny? No, don’t answer that, I think I can guess. The super popular Channel 4 programme of the same name has just begun its sixth series – and has a new presenter – Emma Woolf – author of An Apple a Day. Emma is a very engaging and likeable author – and the exposure on this series is sure to raise her profile. You can watch the first episode of the new series here and make sure you keep An Apple a Day in stock and on display – it had rave reviews when it came out, BBC Radio Four said for example “Frank and compelling... made me understand anorexia in a way I never have before.”

And talking of healthy and junk food – who’s seen that YouTube video where the guy drives up to MacDonald’s pretending to be invisible? It’s pretty funny…

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!