Friday 17 May 2013

Compass Points 42

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

We often bring you biographies of the powerful and famous – but how about the stories of those who support those powerful men and women – those who stand at power’s elbow as it were.  Andrew Blick and George Jones take a fascinating look at the most mysterious and misunderstood job in British politics – that of the prime minister’s aide. At Power’s Elbow uncovers the truth behind three centuries’ worth of Prime Ministers and their aides. Its subjects range from the early election-fixers of Sir Robert Walpole, to the teams supporting the wartime premierships of Winston Churchill, to the semi-official ‘Department of the Prime Minister’ established under Tony Blair. The position of aide to the Prime Minister is one of extraordinary power and influence, but with an incomparable tendency to go horribly wrong when the advisor becomes the story. Discreet, inconspicuous, prudent... the perfect Prime Ministerial aide should always be in the background. When reality falls short of the ideal – as when Cameron’s head of communications Andy Coulson was arrested in connection with the News of the World phone hacking affair – the impact upon the Prime Minister can be drastic. However, for as long as there has been a Prime Minister, he or she has depended on the help of a cast of supporting actors who have courted acclaim and scandal in equal measure. At Power’s Elbow is £20 and is published hardback in July by Biteback.

And talking of a cast of supporting actors, click below to hear the fabulous Sir Humphrey and Bernard making it crystal clear what the role of a successful prime minister's aide should be!

Now here’s something a little bit different – a fresh new novel by award-winning US cult author Joe Meno. No one dies in Office Girl. Nobody talks about the international political situation. There is no mention of any economic collapse. Nothing takes place during a World War. Instead, this novel is about young people doing interesting things in the final moments of the last century. Odile is a twenty-three-year-old art-school dropout, a minor vandal and a hopeless dreamer. Jack is a twenty-five-year-old shirker who’s most happy capturing the endless noises of the city on his out-of-date tape recorder. Together they decide to start their own art movement in defiance of a contemporary culture made dull by both the tedious and the obvious. Set in February 1999 – just before the end of one world and the beginning of another – Office Girl is the story of two people caught between the uncertainty of their futures and the all-too-brief moments of modern life. It’s a quirky, funny and bittersweet novel illustrated with black-and-white doodles by Cody Hudson and Polaroid style photographs by Todd Baxter. This is definitely the sort of thing that could get a real cult following – it has had plenty of praise when it was published in the US last year and was a Publisher’s Weekly Book of the Week and an Amazon Book of the Month. It comes out here in July in paperback from Westbourne Press. Samples of the reviews are below.

“Fresh and funny, the images also encapsulate the mortification, confusion and excitement that define so many 20-something existences.” 
New York Times

“Wonderful storytelling panache. Meno excels at capturing the way that budding love can make two people feel brave and freshly alive to their surroundings. The story of the relationship has a sweet simplicity.”
Wall Street Journal

“Cultural cred:  this is an instant hipster staple.  Drawings and Polaroids provide a playful, quirky element.”
Marie Claire

“In this geeky-elegant novel, Meno transforms wintery Chicago into a wondrous crystallization of countless dreams and tragedies.”
Kansas City Star

 “A wispy, bittersweet romance.”
Chicago Sun Times

“The talented Chicago-based Meno has composed a gorgeous little indie romance. A sweetheart of a novel, complete with a hazy ending.”
Kirkus Reviews

Wow – certainly makes me want to read it. You can order Office Girl here

Google have been much in the news this week, with Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee, telling them that their policy on tax was “devious, calculated and unethical" and that "You are a company that says you 'do no evil'. And I think that you do do evil." So maybe Google wouldn’t be the best example to follow if you were a wannabe entrepreneur, aiming to replicate their success? Jeff Jarvis’s best-selling book What Would Google Do? certainly felt that they had much to teach us. But in July comes an alternative view from Dirk Beckmann entitled What Would Apple Do? How You Can Learn from Apple and Make Money. We all know that Apple’s must-have products are one big success story. So what makes Apple the most innovative company on the planet? The answer: Apple does exactly the opposite of what a normal technology company would do. This book is about the way a major global technology company is able to dominate the markets with highly unfashionable business models. But it’s also about how it is possible to make money on the Web using outmoded methods. In this book author Dirk Beckmann explains how Apple combines traditional business thinking with the endless opportunities in today’s digital world. It explains the rise and rise of Apple and the secrets of its success. It reveals how you can learn from Apple to develop compelling ideas and market them successfully. I’m sure we all have many acquaintances who are  absolutely bonkers for all things Apple (maybe you’re one of them) – and this book (£7.99 paperback from Biteback) is ideal for all of those i-obsessives – and the perfect gift purchase for everyone who knows one of them!

And click below to revisit that old favourite – the Apple vs. Microsoft debate – funny if you’re an Apple fan – perhaps a teeny bit smug and irritating if you’re not!!

Anyone who spends any time in the company of what my old chemistry teacher used to call “youngsters”; will know that they can have an entire conversation only using four “words”. If you don’t know what LOL, WTF, OMG and YOLO, mean than you have clearly been living under a stone for quite some time. Summersdale bring us four little gift books on these very phrases in July – these are the perfect presents for internet addicts and newbies alike and will appeal to anyone who loves or hates these ubiquitous sayings!  They contain funny facts, facts to make you baffled,  facts to astonish you and facts to make you seize the moment – all accompanied by #hilarious asides! These little hardbacks actually do contain loads of fascinating and genuine info and will appeal to readers of 1,227 QI Facts to Blow Your Socks Off and other “pub quiz” trivia books of this type.

 If on the other hand you feel that that LOL, WTF, OMG and YOLO are possibly the most overused and annoying phrases ever; and you like to wind up your young pals by asking them why they can’t just say How amusing, What on earth? Goodness me and Carpe diem instead; then you may well enjoy this clip!

This blog is read weekly by over 600 booksellers, publishers and publicists. 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.

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

Friday 10 May 2013

Compass Points 41

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

OK – a quiz question to start. Which novel opens with the line “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice I've been turning over in my mind ever since.”? It is of course the incomparable The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The media have been positively breathless with excitement about the new Baz Luhrmann film (starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan) of this bestselling book for months – and now the moment they’ve all been waiting for is here! The new film opens in the UK on 17 May and you can watch a trailer below.

Is The Great Gatsby a love story?  Baz Luhrmann says he has made “a great, tragic love story” but Fitzgerald himself thought his novel was more about delusion and failure. And is the film any good? Whether it is or not, it is absolutely certain to bring yet more readers to the book! So make sure you have plenty of stock! We have a £7.99 hardback in a slipcase – great price, great product and a gorgeous retro cover (above) which you can order here and also a £3.99 paperback – also with a lovely cover (right) which you can order here. Both are published by Arcturus.

And who remembers the 1974 film of the book – starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. You may find it interesting to have a little watch it below!

And what about going even further back to the 1949 film – starring Alan Ladd and Betty Field. You can watch the start of it below.

Now, as we all know (although maybe some of us are more interested than others) that Prince William and the fragrant Kate are about to have a baby. And what parenting manual is Prince William reading to prepare him for this momentous occasion? A bit of Gina Ford perhaps – or Penelope Leech? Nope, it is none other Summersdale’s Commando Dad: How to be an Elite Dad or Carer. From Birth to Three Years by Neil Sinclair. You will remember this title; which was published last spring and promised to teach new fathers in no-nonsense terms how to: Survive the first 24 hours; Prepare and Plan to Prevent Poor Parental Performance; Maintain Morale in the Ranks; Feed, Clothe and Transport your Troops and much, much more! There was a fantastic piece in the Daily Mail last week all about this – which you can read here. Honestly, you couldn’t buy this sort of publicity for a book – it is unbelievable. Get the book into your bookshops with a big sign above it saying “Prince William’s favourite!” and it will sell! The price is £9.99, it’s out in paperback from Summersdale and the ISBN is 9781849532617.  The Bookseller charts Commando Dad as putting on growth of 133% this week – don’t miss out! More info is here. While you’re at it, maybe you could do a whole display of Have you just had a baby? titles in July to coincide with the arrival of the royal moppet!

And while we’re on the subject of royalty – did you see Chris Hutchins, author of Harry: The People’s Prince on ITV’s Daybreak this morning, talking about Harry’s forthcoming tour of the US? All terrific publicity for the book (published by Robson Press) which you can order here.

OK, now let’s move away from the privileged worlds of Gatsby and the royal princes, to somewhere completely different. To the Gaza Strip in fact. Meet Me in Gaza: Uncommon Stories of Life inside the Strip is by Louisa Waugh who lived and worked in the Gaza Strip from December 2007 to April 2009. Her other works include Hearing Birds Fly: A Nomadic Year in Mongolia, which won the 2004 inaugural Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize. This is an intimate and poignant account of life inside Gaza. How do people and goods get in and out? Do Gazans ever have fun? Is the Strip beautiful? And do TV reports actually reflect ordinary life inside the world’s largest open-air prison? Meet Me in Gaza reveals the pleasures and pains, hopes and frustrations of Gazans going about their daily lives. Interspersed with fascinating historical, cultural and geographical detail, this is an evocative portrait of a Mediterranean country and its people. Esther Freud called it “A moving and fascinating insight into life in Gaza and you can order Meet me in Gaza and find out more here.

Pippa Greenwood is a leading light in the world of horticulture. As well as appearing regularly on BBC Two’s Gardeners’ World, she is a panellist and bug expert on Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time, has written a number of award-winning books and contributes to BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine. Next week she will be BBC Radio 3’s Essential Classic Guest every day at 10.30am from 20-24 May; discussing music, her life and of course, gardening. She is the author of A Gardener’s Calendar which is a beautifully illustrated pocket sized guide containing specific month-by-month ‘to do’ lists for ornamental gardens, edible crops and general maintenance, as well as tips on things to look out for, such as pests and how to eliminate them. With diary pages for making your own notes each month, this little calendar is a must-have whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out. A Gardener’s Calendar taps nicely  into the widespread current interest in “growing your own”  –  and with the slow start to the spring this year, many gardeners are only just getting going, so now’s the time to put this book on display!

In the summer of 2011, Charlie Carroll found the school he taught at could not afford to renew his teaching contract. With no job and no money, but suddenly all the  time in the world, he decided to travel from Cornwall to London in a peculiarly old-fashioned, quintessentially English and remarkably cheap way – as a tramp, on foot, sleeping rough. No Fixed Abode: A Journey Through Homelessness from Cornwall to London is a 21st-century companion to George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, with parallels to Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning. Charlie Carroll’s journey was filled with colour, surprise and danger, and a range of memorable encounters. With a striking mix of travel and current affairs writing, No Fixed Abode sheds light on a side of the UK few ever see from within. It is a fascinating perspective on the ways in which the life of the tramp has evolved and includes interviews with Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Jeremy Paxman; as well as numerous homeless people and those who work with them, providing a new perspective on how and why people end up on the street, and what can be done to help them. It's published by Summersdale, and You can order it here.

How about a spot of soul on a Friday afternoon? Lovely. R. Kelly has sold over 35 million records worldwide and has worked with outstanding talents from every generation from Celine Dion to Aretha Franklin to Michael Jackson to Jay Z.  Now this international R&B superstar tells his story for the first time, covering his highest achievements and his darkest moments. Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me by R. Kelly has become a bit of an internet phenomenon, when the viral video of actor Gary Oldman reading the memoir received almost quarter of a million hits on YouTube. Have a look below to get a flavour. 

Through the iconic anthem I Believe I Can Fly and a series of R&B mega-hits; R. Kelly has proven himself to be one of the greatest musical talents of his generation. Yet his rollercoaster ride to the top has been as perilous as it has been exhilarating. From the crippling learning disorder that rendered him unable to read or write, to the teacher mentor who prophesised that his destiny was in music, not basketball, we follow his evolution from Chicago street performer to struggling LA musician and beyond. Kelly reveals his hard won ascent to superstardom and his battle to move forward after legal and personal ordeals that nearly ruined his life. Now back at the top, Kelly recounts the journey that has taken him to new heights of maturity and artistry. Soulacoaster unlocks the door to R. Kelly's story as only he can tell it; promising his fans an intimate and unforgettable ride. It’s fully illustrated in colour throughout with stunning photographs from throughout his career, and is published in July at £12.99 from Hay House. You can order it here.

And here’s my absolute favourite R. Kelly song; I Believe I Can Fly – just to set you up nicely for the weekend!

This blog is read weekly by over 600 booksellers, publishers and publicists. 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 3 May 2013

Compass Points 40

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

Well – firstly this week comes the very good news that book sales are up up up! Hurrah! Hopefully you have seen this reflected at the tills in your own bookshop – you can have a read of this article in the Telegraph this week to get more on the facts and figures. Sales across all formats (including e-books) are up 4% which must be good news overall. And have a look here at an article entitled Kindles haven't killed off e-books it's just the start of a new chapter for more opinion about this news story – and lots of comment. Philip Jones (editor of The Bookseller) said this week that shops were seeing a "rebound in sales of physical books, thanks to children's and non-fiction areas and the growing market of books such as Fifty Shades of Grey. The death of the physical book is a long way off” he continued; pointing out that “physical book sales still made up around 80% of the overall market. Digital is overtaking it in some areas but not all areas, so I think the physical book is going to be with us for a long time." He reckons "The premium physical book, the £20 hardback... attracts a certain type of person who wants to keep that book on their shelves."

One type of book that certain readers certainly seem to want to keep on their shelves at present is anything about Margaret Thatcher. One of the best reviewed has been Memories of Margaret Thatcher by Iain Dale which is published this week. Iain Dale is one of Britain’s leading political commentators and bloggers, and this book, which was originally in 2000 to mark 10 years since Thatcher resigned from office; has now been massively expanded, with 50% new material. Memories of Margaret Thatcher brings together personal reminiscences and anecdotes from more than a hundred political figures. Featuring a foreword by Prime Minister David Cameron, these entries are tributes from friends, opponents, and those who observed her from the press gallery. Each contributor experienced a close encounter with the Iron Lady, among them Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Bob Hawke, Boris Johnson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Howard, William Hague, Ann Widdecombe, Edwina Currie, Alan Clark, Norman Tebbit and Geoffrey Howe, whose resignation speech in Parliament can be said to have brought to a dramatic end the Thatcher Era. This is the definitive fully illustrated tribute to one of Britain’s most influential Prime Ministers and all the royalties will be donated to charity. It’s a £20 hardback from Biteback.

Have you ever wanted to look like the character on a book jacket? Now there’s a novel idea. I do remember when Jilly Cooper’s Polo first came out (now that dates me) there was much speculation about who the jodhpur clad bottom on the cover belonged to. Well now those edgy folk over at Mira Ink (the Young Adult publisher bringing you stories set in contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, science fiction and historical worlds) are giving you the chance to give yourself a look based on the young woman on the cover of  The Eternity Cure. This is Book Two in the new Blood of Eden series by Julie Kagawa, and is published this month. Fans of The Hunger Games have loved this gritty vampire dystopia, and the film rights to the Blood of Eden series have already been optioned.  Julie Kagawa is a New York Times top ten bestselling author, and I don’t need to tell you how fast this particular genre of books is growing. 
If you’d like to give yourself The Eternity Cure makeover, just go to the Mira Ink blog spot to find out how to do it! I’ll warn you now, quite a bit of purple eye shadow is required! And you can order the Eternity Cure here!

Phew – that’s enough gritty dystopia, what I really feel like on a hot sunny Bank Holiday weekend is some beer, jazz, cycling and poetry. And what a spot of luck – those are the very subjects that the next collection of Bluffer’s Guides are going to tell me about! This month The Bluffer’s Guide to Cycling provides everything you need to keep up pace with the most avid of cyclists while The Bluffer’s Guide to Hiking gives you everything you need to now to hold your own on any trail and in any country pub. With The Bluffer’s Guide to Poetry you can become an instant expert on poetry and will be able to wax lyrical in the most intellectual of company. Next month The Bluffer's Guide to Beer ensures you know your hops from your barley while The Bluffer's Guide to Jazz contains everything you need to give your conversation that certain 'sax' appeal.  And if you’re wondering how you are going to be able to afford all this fun and games, then The Bluffer's Guide to Your Own Business contains everything you need to bluff your way to a successful entrepreneurial enterprise!  These all new Bluffer’s Guides have terrific jackets, and this brand continues to build – helped by a great website at

The publicity for the first ever edition of Cool Camping Britain has gone stratospheric! Following on from the success of guides to England, Wales and Scotland, Punk, the publishers of the UK’s best-selling campsite guides have created one definitive British volume which I mentioned a few weeks ago. Since then it has been featured in the Sunday Times travel section, on the Guardian travel website, on Mumsnet, in Xpose magazine, in Wanderlust, in Lonely Planet and the Express and there’s lots more to come! It looks as if the weather in the UK might just have got its act together this year, so books like this are going to sell well! And if you’re interested in doing a bit of cool camping yourself this weekend them you could do a lot worse then go to the – a great website which has lots of fun suggestions for where to go!

A city girl with a morbid fear of deep water, Torre DeRoche is not someone you would ordinarily find adrift in the middle of the stormy Pacific aboard a leaky sailboat struggling to keep an old boat, a new relationship and her floundering sanity afloat. But when she meets Ivan, a handsome Argentinean man with a humble sailboat and a dream to explore the world, Torre has to face a hard decision: watch the man she’s in love with sail away forever, or head off on the watery journey with him. Suddenly the choice seems simple. She gives up her sophisticated city life, faces her fear of water and joins her lover on a year-long voyage. Love with a Chance of Drowning is a sometimes hilarious, often moving and always breathtakingly brave memoir that proves there are some risks worth taking. The author has a broad media platform already, with thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook, and has attracted a lot of praise on GoodReads and other book blogs and forums. Love with a Chance of Drowning is published by Summersdale in July. There is a very cute little trailer for the book on You Tube (I wish more authors and publishers would do this – I think it’s a great way to promote new titles) which you can see below.

In the early James Bond novels 007 is pitched against SMERSH, a top secret Soviet agency dedicated to the subversion of the West and the assassination of Western spies. Ian Fleming took his inspiration from true life, but the real SMERSH was far more savage than Bond’s fictional nemesis. SMERSH:  Stalin’s Secret Weapon was published in hardback last year and garnered much praise. In it Dr Vadim Birstein makes comprehensive use of recently released Russian military archives in Moscow and speaks to survivors and victims to tell, for the first time, one of the darkest stories in Soviet Russia’s history. Simon Sebag Montefiore made it one of BBC History Magazine’s Books of the Year, calling it “a gripping history of Stalin’s military intelligence service filled with new details on previously unknown operations and the brutal characters of the Soviet secret world.” It sold 3,000 copies in hardback and was the winner of the inaugural St Ermin’s Hotel Intelligence Book of the Year Award. It is published in large format paperback at £16.99 from Biteback in July.

And if like me, your knowledge of Russian history is just the tiniest bit hazy, then why not watch this rap battle of Rasputin versus Stalin and I’m sure it will all become clear as borscht!

 This blog is read weekly by over 600 booksellers, publishers and publicists. 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!