Friday 29 November 2013

Compass Points 65

Let’s have a look at some of the titles coming in January. First up is Ad and Wal: A Story of Values, Duty, Sacrifice. This is by the British Labour MP for Neath, Peter Hain. What would you do if you lived under the ugliest of regimes, a byword for repression and injustice? What would you do if you knew that you could stay safe only if you stayed quiet? Most of us like to think we’d stand up to fight against evil.Ad and Wal is the story of two people who became heroes by rebelling against the regime, despite the knowledge they were putting themselves in grave danger. Peter Hain recounts the true story of his freedom-fighter parents in this deeply affecting portrait of love, sacrifice and tragedy. It is a story of how two people put their deep-seated feeling for what is right ahead of their own safety, and took on the vicissitudes of an unjust and brutal regime. This heart warming and heartbreaking story of two white South Africans who risked everything to battle apartheid is a parable for our time and its publication coincides with the release of the major new film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom in January 2104. Peter Hain is a superb writer, his memoir Outside In sold 4,000 copies in hardback and the Guardian said that it “Reads more like a political thriller than a memoir.” while the Observer commented that it was “Disarmingly understated … refreshingly honest … Peter Hain has lived life to the full, which is more than most of our politicians can say.” Ad and Wal is published by Biteback in hardback (9781849546430, £16.99).

Never again need you confuse consommé with coulis, or entrée with entrecôte.Now you can bask in the admiration of your fellow companions as you pronounce confidently on what to do and where to do it and effortlessly hold your own against the most highbrow of society. The Bluffer's Guide to Etiquette by William Hanson is the brand new title for the 5-million-copy bestselling series. William Hanson is considered by Sky News to be “the UK's leading consultant in etiquette & protocol” and is widely regarded as the UK’s freshest and most trusted authority on etiquette and protocol. His youth, coupled with his old-fashioned values, gives him credence to adjudicate on modern manners. A regular contributor to global media not only as an etiquette expert but also as an astute social commentator, William has been seen on BBC Breakfast, ITV This Morning, CNN, and Russell Howard's Good News, and is regularly to be heard on BBC Radio 5 Live- so you can expect lots of reviews and features in national and regional press and magazines for this entertaining and useful title! It published in paperback, 9781909937000, £6.99.

And here’s a very amusing five minute clip of The Bluffer's Guide to Etiquette’s author William Hanson in action on BBC3, trying very hard to teach comedian Russell Howard some manners…

But if you’re looking to be entertained in an entirely different manner, then how about Sexy Ways to Play: A Guide to Sex Toys by Emily Dubberley. This is a fun and frank introduction to bedroom toys and the paperback boxed set from appropriately named Connections Publishing (978-1-85906-381-1 £12.99) even includes a toy to try straight away. Oooh er missus indeed! Expert author with media profile Emily Dubberley is a bestselling author and journalist specializing in sex and relationships. The UK’s number one sex guru, Emily pioneered online erotica for women, and she regularly appears on TV and radio shows as a spokesperson on sex-related topics. Written in a fresh, frank and fun style this pack presents all you ever wanted to know but were too shy to ask about bedroom toys. The range is bewildering, but Emily has tested over 600, and offers here a selection of the classics to help you find the right vibe for you, and your partner. You’ll find useful profiles on the toys, along with guidance on best use. Plus there’s advice on how to introduce toys into your lovemaking, and different techniques to explore with your partner. There are even tips on advanced toy play, for when you’re ready to take it to the next level. I don’t have to tell you what a growth area of the market spicy saucepot publishing is – and I’m not even going to mention F***y S***** of ****; but something tells me this book might do very well. And no – I’m not going to even attempt to give you an appropriate film clip to watch on You Tube – as I don’t think it would get past Big Brother's - sorry David Cameron’s - porn filters.

Who did Forbes Magazine name as the most powerful man in the world, last month? Yes, it’s Vladimir Putin. Seen through Western eyes he is strong-willed, unpredictable, venal, and vain. But how does he appear to his people? The Putin Mystique:  Inside Russia’s Power Cult by Anna Arutunyan has been described as “Gripping… a dramatic eye-opener on the Russian soul” and is a vivid and revealing exploration of the way in which myth, power and religion interact    to produce the love-hate relationship between the Russian people and Vladimir Putin. Anna Arutunyan is a journalist and writer, working for the Moscow News. She was born in the Soviet Union but was raised and educated in the United States. She lives in Moscow and has observed Putin in action over the last ten years and in this learned but readable book she puts Putin in the context of Russian history and culture and shows how it is almost inevitable that every ruler of Russia plays the role of a tsar, whether or not he is crowned. There is a deep need for autocracy which generates autocrats. With lively reportage of such topics as the Pussy Riot Affair, the treatment of autocrats like Khodorkovsky and Berezovsky, and the vital role bribery and corruption play in Russian society; she vividly and amusingly illuminates news stories which are covered fitfully and sometimes inadequately in the West, and shows how they often echo events across hundreds of years of Russian history. This book is published to coincide with the Winter Olympics in Russia, in February 2014, which will undoubtedly focus attention on Putin and his rule. 2014 is also the UK/Russia Year of Culture. This is a £16.99 hardback (978-0-9926270-2-7) from Skyscraper Publications and you can order it here.

And if you’d like to see another side to Vladimir, then have a look at this five minute clip of him playing the piano and singing Blueberry Hill – I kid you not!

Once Christmas is over, and the January sales have finally been and gone, our thoughts will be turning to the next opportunity to sell some books – Valentine’s Day. Here is an ardent selection of gift titles from Summersdale, all new in January and essential for any romantic bookseller’s Love themed promotion. Classic Love Poems (hardback £9.99, 9781849535151) is edited by Max Morris. Previous edition of this title have sold 24,000 copies, and there is no doubt that poetry is the perfect medium to express affection and passion in all its forms – from the initial stirrings of romance and desire to enduring love in full bloom. This exquisitely illustrated anthology contains inspiring and moving poetry by some of the best-loved writers in the English language, from Geoffrey Chaucer to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and from William Shakespeare to Christina Rossetti.

I Love You is by Lisa Swerling & Ralph Lazar who are the husband-and-wife team that created the hugely popular Harold’s Planet and Vimrod Cards. The simplest romantic gestures are the best – scribble ‘I Love You’ with a red crayon and it can get you into all sorts of trouble! This is the perfect (and quirkiest) way to say those three little words. This is a gift hardback 9781849535144, £5.99.

Another gift hardback; I Love You to the Moon and Back is a beautifully-designed collection of quotations to appeal to lovers young and old. This delightful book, packed with heartfelt quotations from romantics old and new, is the perfect way to say, ‘I love you to the moon and back.’ (9781849535250 £5.99)

Or you may prefer You’re The Spring in my Step, also a £5.99 hardback which is a little quirkier, exploring how falling in  love is like finding the yin to your yang, the butter on your crumpet, the Watson to your Holmes. This little book is packed with romantic, funny and charming ways to tell the one you love just how much they mean to you and adds a modern twist to the traditional declarations of love, with a fresh, contemporary design.

Love Vouchers and Sex Vouchers are both £5.99, tear-out books of vouchers which give you the opportunity to pamper someone you love. You can decide if you prefer the sweet or the saucy: will you choose the romantic gestures, from breakfast in bed to a dreamy weekend away or something a bit spicier; from a seductive massage to a steamy shower session!

Ahhhh – all this soppy stuff has put me in the mood for something sentimental – how about Love is the Sweetest Thing as sung by Al Bowlly with Ray Noble – just to remind ourselves of what it’s really all about!

Can any of us remember when journalists were daring investigative heroes – working tirelessly to expose corruption rather spending their days hacking celebrities’ mobile phones and trying to photograph Kate Middleton’s bosoms? One such journalistic colossus is without doubt Chapman Pincher, now 99 years old, and going stronger than ever. Dangerous to Know: The Autobiography of Harry Chapman Pincher is colourful, indiscreet and compelling – and also reveals the secret history of the century he bestrode. Harry Chapman Pincher was one of the most famous newspaper men of his day and his era’s foremost investigator of the vicissitudes of the state. He is the author of many bestselling books including Their Trade is Treachery. His name, a byword for investigative journalism, sounded a note of real terror for those trying to safeguard the secrets of state. Chapman Pincher came to journalism late, after early careers as a teacher, a scientist and a soldier, but after joining Lord Beaverbrook’s then all-powerful Daily Express in the summer of 1945, he swiftly became the master of the journalistic scoop. His first splash, a leaked top secret account of the development of the atomic bomb, sparked a furious trans-Atlantic row. It was only the start of a career in which the name Chapman Pincher became synonymous with high-level leaks from the most secret parts of government. At a time when national newspapers operated out of Fleet Street and journalists hunted in packs, Chapman Pincher preferred to hunt alone, cultivating the high and mighty at shooting parties and other social gatherings where they were relaxed enough to share what seemed at the time to be every secret they knew. He still revels in the bitter claim of historian E P Thompson, that he was “a kind of official urinal” into which senior members of the government and the intelligence services stood “patiently leaking in the public interest”. When he finally retired from journalism, the leaks kept coming, leading to a series of best-selling books on the infiltration of Britain’s intelligence services by Moscow which culminated in the allegation in Their Trade is Treachery that the head ofMI5 was a Soviet spy. It is a £20 hardback from Biteback (9781849546515)

And talking of the head of MI5 being a secret agent, what better way to while away fifteen minutes than watching The Top Ten moments in Spooks as voted for by cast and crew. Oh why oh why did they get rid of this series I cry…

And now a round up of what’s in the media this week….

There was a great piece in the Telegraph promoting Glitzch by Hugh Kellett and you can find out all the details on Glitzch! here. It’s £8.99 from Bene Factum Publishing  (9781909657212).

There’s lots and lots in the news about what will or won’t happen if Scotland do or don’t decide to vote for independence. Which is all good publicity for The Battle for Britain: Scotland and the Independence Referendum by David Torrance (9781849545945). This book charts the long political fight between the Unionists and Nationalists, detailing the ins and outs of the referendum campaign based on opinion poll data, contemporary media coverage and, most importantly, in-depth interviews with protagonists on both sides of the debate: strategists, ministers, campaign gurus and leading journalists. This is the ultimate companion to the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence and gives readers the full story of how the referendum came about, detailing the people involved and the essential facts and figures. The Guardian said this week “If you are looking for a clear, informed and balanced guide to this subject, this book will be very hard to beat.” It’s published by Biteback in paperback, £14.99 , 978184954594.

100 Reasons to Love Ryan Gosling by Joanna Beneke is getting lots of publicity in the gossipy mags – and on line. The book reviewed in Reveal magazine, Now magazine, Star magazine, QX magazine, Bent magazine and in Out in the City magazine’s Christmas gift guide.100 Reasons to Love Ryan Gosling is £12.99 in paperback. 9780859655019 from Plexus.

A massive spread this week in the Daily Mail with tons of pictures this week for author Jennifer Berkley, on trying to be a mother with lots of good plugs for her book Falling in Honey: Life and Love on a Greek Island, which is published in paperback by Summersdale (978-1849532716).

A bit of exciting news for one of our independent publishers this week (as reported in today’s Bookseller); Myrmidon has signed a companion guide to cult TV drama Breaking Bad. It is the independent publisher's first ever non-fiction book. The publisher signed UK rights in Wanna Cook? The Complete, Unofficial Breaking Bad Companion by Ensley F Guffey and K Dale Koontz. Handyside, the publisher at Myrmidon, said: "Expansion into non-fiction was always a feature on our horizon and this excellent volume is a sound beginning. Wanna Cook? is a unique and expertly written companion guide to the hit TV series Breaking Bad and will appeal to existing fans as well as those new to and curious about it.”  Wanna Cook? is a 500-page paperback covering every episode of Breaking Bad, from filming details to overall themes. Guffey and Koontz are both pop culture writers who have written scholarly essays on films and TV. The book is set for publication in April 2014, to coincide with the BAFTA awards, where the TV programme is expected to feature among the nominations. And in case you’ve been under a stone for the last year, Breaking Bad is the crazy popular TV hit which follows an American chemistry teacher called Walter White, who begins making drugs after discovering he has cancer.

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

This newsletter is sent weekly to 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.

Friday 22 November 2013

Compass Points 64 Christmas Highlights Special

It might not yet be Advent in the church sense of the word, but in terms of the more secular aspect of the season – i.e. buying tons of stuff – we are now well and truly on the run up to Christmas! Click below to be taken to the

This is a veritable cornucopia of wonderful titles! Here you can download a PDF of our top titles – sorted by category. Or if you prefer, you can click below on the appropriate heading in bold type to go straight to the page for the section you want where you can find all the ISBN and price information. 

The fascinating lives of extraordinary people: here’s the best of Biography

Fun and Fairytales, classic and modern; you'll love our wonderful Children's books

Be transported to another world with the best of our Fiction

From McCartney to Ellington, Jagger to Styles it’s time for some Film and Music

Ho Ho Ho, what we all love are Gift and Humour titles ...

What shaped the world we live in? Find out with these thought provoking History titles.

Lose yourself in Poetry

Whether you’re looking for a Power Trip or find yourself In The Eye of the Storm; you’ll need our books on Politics.

On your bike or on the pitch; player or armchair slouch; the Sports section has something for all.

Wherever you want to go, our Travel titles will take you there.

And if you’d prefer to journey via your imagination; then browse through our Travel Literature

All the very best in Gift and Humour from Summersdale

Last but not least, make sure you don't forget these smashers!

Phew – looking at all of this makes you realise just how many superb titles our wonderful publishers have come up with this year!

Now, what’s in the news this week?

F in Retakes (978-1849533133) from Summersdale  is zooming up the bestseller charts – and don’t forget the new one which is published this month  F in School  F in School (978-1849535069) both by Richard Benson .

Carcanet have just published their 2014 catalogue, which you can have a browse through here – lots of truly inspirational poetry, and what a beautiful cover.

The paperback of Trains and Lovers (9781846972638) by Alexander McCall Smith published by Birlinn has got a major media campaign to launch it this week, kicking off with a 4-sheet ad campaign starting on 2nd December for 4 weeks, focusing on key mainline stations on the East Coast rail line from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh. BBC Radio 4 are interviewing McCall Smith, which will be broadcast on 6th December and there will also be a Christmas day interview for BBC Radio Scotland. There will be an interview and extract from the book running in the Sunday Times, and it will also be featured in a Christmas selection in the Daily Telegraph and the Scotsman and there will be a piece in the New Statesman.

Space Has No Frontier: The Terrestrial Life and Times of Sir Bernard Lovell (9781903071984) by John Bromley-Davenport was launched this week by Benefactum. Described by Patrick Moore as “the Isaac Newton of radio astronomy”, the life of Sir Bernard Lovell spans almost a century of revolutionary advances and discoveries in science, whose applications were of vital significance in the Cold War. Lovell, it can now be revealed, was at the very heart of it all. The extraordinary life of Bernard Lovell began before the First World War and his story encompasses many of the great events of last hundred years: the Second World War, the invention of radio astronomy, the space race, the Moon landings, the exploration of the Solar System, the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis and the defence of Britain against nuclear attack. It can now be revealed that he was also a spy. “He ranks as one of the great visionary leaders of science,” Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, said of him. The great radio telescope which Lovell built became and remains one of the most important scientific instruments in the World. The Jodrell Bank Observatory and the Lovell Telescope have held their place at the frontier of research for fifty five years. This book seeks to explore succinctly and accessibly Lovell’s life and achievements in the scientific and political context of the time. His legacy remains great, as can be seen from the extensive media coverage and personal tributes that his death in 2012 attracted all over the world. With the seventieth anniversaries of many wartime events in which he played a crucial role, as well as the recent declassification of information relating to his activities as an agent in the Cold War, this biography is sure to have a broad and timely interest. I must say that personally although I had heard of the Lovell telescope I had no idea quite how important and brilliant Sir Bernard Lovell was, and it certainly seems to me that a biography of this under-sung man was long overdue. Public fascination with astronomy today, popularised by figures like the late Patrick Moore and Brian Cox, makes Lovell’s contributions to science of particular interest.  You can click here to go to a clip on the BBC website to see Lovell talking to Patrick Moore about his work. I think this £20 hardback would make a very good Christmas present for anyone remotely interested in the universe – and I don’t just mean in the Doctor Who sense!

And have a look here at some amazing footage from the International Space Station, just to remind yourself what an extraordinary planet we all inhabit!

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

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.

Friday 15 November 2013

Compass Points 63

Plenty of excellent publicity coming in for Spain: The Inside Story of La Roja’s Historic Treble by Graham Hunter which is published today by Back Page Press. You will remember that this title is packed with remarkable eyewitness accounts and in-depth interviews with the star names and key figures in this extraordinary team, and follows in the critical and commercial success of Graham Hunter’s 2012 title, Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World, which sold 25,000 copies (paperback) in 12 months in the UK and was Football Book of the Year at the 2013 British Sports Book Awards. A whole series of extracts from Spain are running on, which is the biggest football site in the world; and you can read that here. The Sun have a full-page extract ready to run in the next week, and yesterday there was a 2000-word extract running on the Guardian's website. In Scotland, the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday are running two-page extracts on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and have also confirmed an extract, which will go live on their global site on Thursday. All good stuff – and should mean that there are loads of fans out there keen to buy this book – either as a prezzie or for themselves!

And if you love your footie –then you’ll certainly enjoy this highly entertaining "version" of Match of the Day!

We’ve just heard that Vauxhall (9781846591464) by Gabriel Gbdamosi, which was published by Telegram in May 2013, has won the Best International Novel at the 32nd Sharjah International Book Fair. The awards ceremony recognises the contributions of authors, publishers and other cultural figures to the intellectual life of the Arab world. Other winners included Mohammed Muhib Jabr’s 6000 Miles, for Best Arabic Novel, and Ali Abualreesh’s An Exceptional Woman, for Best Emirati Book by an Emirati Creative Writer. Vauxhall is a tender and sometimes dark portrait of a young boy looking for his place in inner city multicultural London amidst the slum clearances of the 1970s. Gbadamosi writes with wit and compassion about the experiences of those that arrived on England’s shores looking for a better life. You can find out more on the Telegram website here.

Oooh, those luvvies in the media have been going billy bonkers for the National Theatre Story by Daniel Rosenthal, published by Oberon Books; there is simply masses of scrumptious publicity for this fabulous title dahlings! This weekend there will be a big lead review, with colour picture in the Sunday Times Culture section, including a picture feature on the National's anniversary, with images of its best productions. Then coming soon are reviews in the Spectator (Croall), the Economist (Lucy Farmer), the Sunday Telegraph (Cavendish), the Observer and The Stage. This definitive, authorized account takes readers from the National Theatre’s 19thcentury origins, through false dawns in the early 1900s, onto its hardfought inauguration in 1963 at the Old Vic and on to its concrete, South Bank home, whose three theatres have since 1976 hosted more than 700 productions. It’s certain to be essential reading for theatre lovers and students and is packed with photographs and more than 100 new interviews with directors, playwrights and actors.

Of course one of the most interesting recent innovations by the National Theatre is the cinema screenings of successful plays – so that those who can’t get to London can share the love. I personally think this is a terrific idea – and you can watch a few of the success stories here.

Don’t forget about the massively successful Bluffer’s Guide series when you are planning your Christmas window displays! Perfect as stocking fillers present for those hard to buy for relations – new titles are being added to the range all the time and the stylish covers mean they look great displayed as a set. You can see the full collection on the website here.

And talking of Christmas window displays, if you’re short of inspiration, then why not have a look here for some ideas! I think the trees made out of books look terrific – although my personal favourite is the one made out of gold cushions!

Look Up Glasgow by Adrian Searle and David Barbour published by Freight is a stunning coffee table book of Glasgow’s world-class architectural detail, hidden in plain sight at the tops of the city’s iconic buildings. There will be some terrific publicity in Scotland coming up – a  massive five page article in the Herald on Saturday on 23rd Nov and then an Evening Times double page article the following week so let’s hope you Scottish booksellers will reap the benefits in sales! This book contains some stunning photography of Glasgow’s hidden architectural heritage - one of the world’s great Victorian cities as you’ve never seen it before and also includes poems inspired by the photographs from six leading Scottish poets. Look Up Glasgow will be a beautiful surprise to residents, visitors and non-residents of Glasgow alike, demonstrating that it is much more than just another post-industrial British city. It is a book that those passionate about the city and of architecture will treasure.

Here’s a little heads-up for a terrific debut novel, containing humour with a bite, published in January from Skyscraper publications. Good for Nothing by Brandon Graham is about a week when Flip Mellis tries to rid himself of excess weight and solve the problems of his life. This is a novel in which peaks of humour and troughs of tragedy intermingle as the hero tries to get his life together, after a suicide attempt – like much else in his life – fails to achieve its goal. Overweight, weak-willed, and quick to criticise others, Flip has a self-fulfilling fatalism which leads him to stumble through each day, hoping against hope that he can get a job, mend his marriage and rebuild his life. Perceptively observed characters from American small-town life populate the book in hilarious cameos and get in the way of Flip’s well-meaning attempts to reform himself. Reading copies are available – just email if you’d like one – and one of our hawk-eared team heard none other than Andrew Marr mention that he was thoroughly enjoying it a couple of weeks ago! He happened to say (during a publication dinner for his own book!) that the book he was really loving at the moment was Good for Nothing and thought it was brilliant and a marvellously sustained comic voice! This could be the beginning of another Compass word of mouth success story!

“There is nothing to be frightened of. It is all magic.” Certainly some of the ideas which previously belonged to the realms of fairytales and folklore – creating a baby outside the womb for example – are now entirely possible, thanks to the wonders of science. That link between contemporary scientific research and ancient myth is explored to great effect in Moss Witch by Sara Maitland; the first collection of fiction from this internationally-acclaimed author in over nine years which was published by Comma Press in September.  Each of the stories in the book began as collaboration with a scientist; and has grown out of a current piece of research. Each story also comes with a specially written afterword, penned by the scientist, and expanding upon the theory within the story – be it quantum mechanics, planetary physics, game theory, or nanotechnology. Each enacts a daring piece of alchemy, fusing together specific pieces of contemporary scientific research with an ancient myth or a folkloric archetype. As the laboratory smoke settles, we meet witches that can outwit botanists, religious soothsayers that read evolutionary biology in feverish dreams, scientists that fall in love with the birds they study….
A fascinating idea for a book – and the We Love This Book website gives it a rave review. You can find out more and order Moss Witch here. And you can see a little clip of Sara Maitland talking about Moss Witch at the Manchester Literary Festival here.

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

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.

Friday 8 November 2013

Compass Points 62

We start today with some very exciting news – as featured in today’s Bookseller. Biteback have just signed a sensational book on the Profumo affair written by Geoffrey Robertson QC. The book, Stephen Ward was Innocent, OK: The Case for Overturning his Conviction is an exploration of the trial of the 1960s society figure at the centre of the case. Ward, who introduced MP John Profumo to showgirl Christine Keeler, was prosecuted for living from the profits of prostitution, and killed himself on the last day of the trial. Robertson critiques the trial, and says: "The conviction of Stephen Ward stands as the worst unrequited miscarriage of justice in modern British history, and it is now time it was overturned." Publication will tie in with the opening of Andrew Lloyd-Webber's latest musical, Stephen Ward, and an ITV documentary on the same subject which will be screened in December. The story is also explored in new play Keeler, which opens this week at London's Charing Cross Theatre. This mega book will be published in December and there is no doubt that it will attract a great deal of attention. The author, who is a world renowned QC, has convincing evidence that Stephen Ward was innocent and his suicide before sentence was the result of establishment forces ranged against him. This scandal brought down a government and the revelations in the book will be of huge interest to the press and public. Robinson will attempt to get the conviction quashed, and the book is a key part of that process. There will be a televised press conference featuring Mandy Rice Davis to announce the application, and Andrew Lloyd Webber will also be part of the publicity thrust. Have a look at the AI to get all the details on the case – this is going to be absolutely explosive stuff!

And you can take yourselves back to that extraordinary time in the 1960’s with this compilation of film clips and photos

I think we can say that following Halloween and Bonfire Night we are all definitely on the countdown to Christmas – let’s hope your tills are starting to jingle and jangle already! Certainly the papers have already started to feature their annual lists of Christmas gift ideas –and Health and Fitness Magazine recommends The Joy of Cycling by Ray Hamilton and The Joy of Running by Paul Owen as ideal presents for the fitness enthusiast in your life. I’m not entirely certain that these are precisely what I’d want to find in my stocking personally – The Joy of a Chocolate Orange would be more my type of thing – but these pocket-sized miscellanies are packed with fascinating facts, handy hints and captivating stories and quotes and are perfect for anyone who knows the incomparable joy of bikes or new trainers! 
They both contain bite-sized, visually appealing information from all areas of the sport, for newbies and veterans alike; and are nicely produced £9.99 hardbacks with black and white illustrations from Summersdale.

And here’s a little film showing how NOT to take up running!

If you haven’t got a book on the go at the moment, then I can highly recommend this next title from Gallic which is published next February – and we have 15 proofs to give away to the first booksellers to email us with their details! The People in the Photo by Hélène Gestern is a multi-prize-winning debut novel which has had sales of 10,000 in France and won fifteen literary awards. This dark yet touching drama deftly explores the themes of blame and forgiveness, identity and love – centring around a photograph taken in 1971 which sets two people on the path to uncovering the truth about their parents and themselves. Parisian archivist Hélène takes out a newspaper advert seeking information about her mother, who died when she was three, and the two men pictured with her in a photograph taken at a tennis tournament at Interlaken in 1971.Stéphane, a Swiss biologist living in Kent, responds: his father is one of the people in the photo. More letters and more photos pass between them as they embark on a journey to uncover the truth their parents kept from them. But will the images and documents from the past fill the silences left by the players? Email your name and address to with People in the Photo in the subject line, and we’ll send you out a bound proof today!

I’ve mentioned this title before when it was published in August; but the British Television Location Guide from Splendid Books is abut to get a huge boost as the million copy selling Mirror is featuring a big spread on it this weekend. This fascinating book reveals the real-life filming locations for loads of top television series including Downton Abbey, Broadchurch, Call The Midwife, The White Queen, Sherlock, Doc Martin, Midsomer Murders, Endeavour, Doctor Who, Lewis and many more. Lavishly illustrated with photographs of top stars including Martin Clunes, Dame Judi Dench and David Tennant the book is the essential companion for viewers and tourists alike - and a comprehensive record of where TV programmes are filmed and how you can visit the locations. Compiled by Steve Clark and television expert Shoba Vazirani, it reveals the secret settings for dozens of top television shows. From Broadchurch to Mr Selfridge and from Game of Thrones to The Fall; The British Television Location Guide gives details of how you can visit the filming locations that you have seen so many times on the television.

Well, never mind telling us where all these fab series were filmed – what about telling us what is going to happen in them – that would be a bit more use! I personally would like to see the publication of the British Television Spoilers Guide, so that we can find the plot lines of  Broadchurch, Downton, Doctor Who, Sherlock etc way before our friends do, and then spend endless hours down the pub ruining everyone else’s fun.  This trailer gives us some information (is that Benedict Cumberbatch alive and well I see?) – but not enough quite frankly!

Exciting news for one of our Carcanet poets; Rebecca Goss has won the East Anglian Book Awards (poetry category) for Her Birth. The death of a baby daughter inspires a candid, piercing study of grief and as Helen Dunmore commented: “The poems in Her Birth unfold their story of love, loss and grief for a baby daughter with pared-down precision and scorching intensity.” In 2007 Goss’s daughter died, at sixteen months, of a rare and incurable heart condition. This is her book-length elegy. The book begins with Ella’s birth, short life and her death, and ends with the joyous and confounding birth of another child.

From the sublime to the ridiculous. Do you know what a shy cock is? Or where your Twiddle diddles are? I’ll give you a clue – one’s rude – one isn’t – and it’s probably not the one you’d think! Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit and Pickpocket Eloquence by Francis Grose from Hesperus was featured in the main section of the Sun newspaper this week. Originally printed as a guide to street slang for men of quality, The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue is a gem! The avowed purpose of the dictionary was to give men ‘of fashion’ an insight into the inappropriate language of the street. Read in modern times it is by turn uproariously funny and deeply confusing and yet certain truths have remained. There’s no doubt that many of the words should be brought back into common parlance forthwith: we certainly need a term for “One who from drunkenness vomits into the lap of the person sitting opposite to him.”  We have perhaps less use for a word such as “dobin rig” which is means “Stealing ribbons from haberdashers early in the morning or late at night.” Learn how the Georgians and early Victorians would insult each other and find out how some of today's words and derivations have come about in this quirky little volume. Anyone who, like me,  is a fan of Paul O’ Grady will realise that this little hardback compendium is likely to be right up his street – and indeed we have just heard that  The Paul O’Grady Show (Channel 4) have expressed an  interest in featuring the book during the new series which starts Monday 11th November. Make sure you have it on prominent display – as the Telegraph said “This book was a runaway success when published in 1811 by soldier Francis Grose, but now The Dictionary Of The Vulgar Tongue is getting tongues wagging again”

22nd November 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great English composer Benjamin Britten. To commemorate this momentous centenary, Carcanet are delighted to announce the publication of an anthology of the poems which Britten set to music, Benjamin Britten’s Poets edited by Boris Ford. Nicholas Lezard writing in the Guardian called this “An excellent idea, brilliantly and meticulously edited... this is a superb, eclectic anthology, a commonplace book dedicated to Britten’s soul.” Benjamin Britten was a great reader of poetry, and poetry profoundly affected his musical genius and style of composition. Friendships and collaborations with writers – Auden and Forster among them – left their mark. No other composer of songs, not even Schubert or Schumann, set poems of such range and quality. All the 360 poems Britten set are included in this book. They range from Donne's complex 'Holy Sonnets' to the deceptive simplicity of Blake's 'Oh rose thou art sick'. They include anonymous ballads, modern work and poems in other languages with translations.

Funeral Blues by WH Auden is a well known poem; partly due to the incredibly moving performance of it by John Hannah in Four Weddings and a Funeral; but its setting to music by Britten is much less well known – and in my opinion is equally powerful. Watch it here performed by the soprano Alexia Mankovskaya

Some 2014 guide book titles to let you know about. Firstly, Signpost 2014: The 75th Edition Guide is the definitive UK hotel directory listing 150 of the finest hotels in Great Britain. The guide includes luxury country house hotels set in beautiful grounds, small hotels with log fires and cosy bedrooms deep in the heart of quiet country villages, or smart townhouse hotels with 21st century facilities. They all have that something special – style, comfort, warmth of welcome, fabulous food, with plenty to see and do in the area and have been stayed at or inspected by our team. Every hotel featured in this guide has that something special - no run-of-the mill hotels are included! This guide is packed with colour images, detailed descriptions, and special indexes by hotel facility together with colour route planning maps. 
And secondly, three paperbacks from Visit Britain Publishing – which are the official tourist board guides to star-rated B&Bs, hotels and other guest accommodation in England. B&Bs and Hotels, Self Catering and Camping Touring and Holiday Parks are all easy to search by region, county or town and contain pictures of every single type of accommodation.  They will tell you where to go, what to do and how to get there – everything you need for in fact a great British Holiday. All of these titles are published in January 2014.

And we can’t mention the finest hotels in Britain without featuring a clip from what is probably the worst hotel in Britain – although I must admit, I think I would very much enjoy a visit! Here’s an 8 minute clip on YouTube showing you some of Basil’s best bits!

To finish with I have some very very exciting news indeed! Next spring, Max Ström Publishing is bringing out ABBA: The Official Photo Book. This amazing £35 hardback has a foreword by all four members of ABBA - Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Frida – who said “I am thrilled with all of these pictures, some of which I am seeing now for the very first time. The book provides a real trip down Memory Lane.” This book is going to be totally mega – I won’t say any more just now, but you can watch the promo video for the book here which gives you some idea of the wealth of extraordinary material that this title will contain!

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

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.