Monday 16 January 2017

Compass Points 199

There’s no doubt that most of us would dearly love to escape from this somewhat dreary January, so why not take a journey into the Venezuelan rainforest via a stunning new voice in Latin American fiction; Miguel Bonnefoy? You can read an extract of Octavio's Journey (£7.99, pb, 978 1910477311) here which has sold more than 25,000 copies in France. The gorgeously vibrant cover alone is enough to warm you up; Le Figaro called it “magnificent”, it was shortlisted for the Goncourt First Novel Award, and this short but epic fable is both a hymn to Venezuela and the magical story of an extraordinary hero. It’s published by Gallic in March.

The Old King in His Exile by Arno Geiger (pb, 978 1908276889, £8.99) is already getting some excellent review coverage – it was published on Thursday by And Other Stories. The Times Literary Supplement said “The Old King in His Exile balances the poetic, the military and the idea of performance. There is a lathe-like precision to Geiger’s writing, all straight lines and pared exactitudes . . . poignantly rendered.” It was featured in the Sunday Express Magazine yesterday and there will also be a piece in the Financial Times on 21 January and it will be reviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Midweek on 25 January. Translated into nearly 30 languages; The Old King in His Exile will offer solace and insight to anyone coping with a loved one's aging. In it, the author sets out on a journey to get to know his father; never an easy man, and when he developed Alzheimer's, Arno realised he was not going to ask for help. Born in 1926 in the Austrian Alps, into a farming family who had an orchard, kept three cows, and made schnapps in the cellar, his father was conscripted into World War II as a 'schoolboy soldier' - an experience he rarely spoke about, though it marked him. Striking up a new friendship, Arno walks with him in the village and the landscape they both grew up in and listens to his words, which are often full of unexpected poetry. Through his intelligent, moving and often funny account, we begin to see that whatever happens in old age, a human being retains their past and their character.

Pakistan is proud of its culinary heritage and its dishes are becoming increasingly popular. The Food and Cooking of Pakistan (hb, 978 0754832393, £14.99) has just been published by Lorenz – and as you’d expect from this publisher, the production quality is very high, with beautiful full colour spreads on every page, easy to follow photographed instructions as well as sumptuous pics of all the mouth-watering classics included in this collection of 85 recipes by expert Shehzad Husain. Traditionally based on ancient Mughlai recipes, modern Pakistani cooking embraces the ingredients and techniques of nearby countries, creating richer, more elaborate food that is often referred to in the West as being Lahori or Peshawari. Delectable biryanis, nehari, haleem, kebabs, gol gappay … as one reviewer said “Great to see a new book from Shehzad Husain after a long time. As with her previous books the recipes are super easy to follow and the images are top quality. We get a background into what Pakistani cuisine is and … the illustrations are beautiful, I love the fact the paper is glossy so you can get a real feel to the food, the photography is really sharp and a lot of the focus is on the food.” There was an interview with Shehzad Husain in this Saturday’s (14th January) issue of Waitrose Weekend and also an extract feature in the Independent online and there will be more PR to come for this gorgeous book – there is nothing comparable in the market.

Big congrats to Urbane author Tom Hocknell who has been selected as one of the "diverse and original" authors with his debut novel The Life Assistance Agency (pb, £8.99, 978 1911129035) in the WH Smith Fresh Talent Promotion which launched on Thursday. It will run until 30th March across W H Smith Travel's key locations at airports in Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester and train stations in Victoria, Liverpool Street, Paddington and Euston. You can see all 12 titles here. The selection, which  "encourages readers to take a risk on a new author”, described  Hocknell's book as "a welcome inclusion to the  list" and a "vivid tale with a wry wit and sharp eye".
“I was so immersed in this utterly bonkers reading experience I greedily devoured it in one sitting. There's a cracking turn of events and it's walloped in some brilliant one liners too. Undoubtedly, considerable attention has been paid to merging the past and the present which are brought alive by the frantic finesse of mystic mayhem, and a constant stream of curiosity that I found impossible to ignore. Unquestionably quirky. Brilliantly barmy. Absolutely recommended.” said the Little Bookness Lane Blog. WH Smith isn’t the only place where this will sell  – order it for your shop too!

Years of watching The Apprentice means we all think we’re marketing experts now, and publishers and agents sometimes do talk of authors in term of “brands”. But what exactly does that mean, and does author branding really help books to sell? Have a look  here  at this interesting piece on author branding from The Book Machine and see if you agree,

Lots of bloggers have been getting very excited about Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty by Laura Slater (978 0859655088, pb, £14.99) which is published by Plexus; and I’m not surprised – the retro styling it espouses is bang on trend at the moment and this stylish guide is filled with glam pics and top tips.
Vintage blogger Dominique de Merteuil says it is “Filled with useful tips on make-up and hairstyling from the beauty regimes of iconic, glamorous movie stars such as Joan Crawford, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich… to name just a few!  A perfect book for those who are just starting their exciting adventure with vintage hair and make-up, as well as for vintage aficionados”
This piece is great fun – if you’re at all into the glamorous Hollywood of old then you will enjoy reading  the rest of this blog about trying out some of the tips and looks from the book. The Bookbag also give the book a big thumbs up and you can read that blog  here.

Talking of the styling in the blockbuster Hollywood films –  here  is an entertaining collection of costume and make up errors that have occurred in some of the very biggest!

Congratulations to Freight, whose wonderful and wry short story collection Treats by Lara Williams (pb, £8.99, 978 1910449707) which has been chosen for the inaugural shortlist of eight titles for The Republic of Consciousness prize; designed to reward “brave, bold and brilliant” literature from small presses. You can find out more and see the whole shortlist in the Guardian here.

More publicity this week for the excellent Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity? with a much more measured article in the Guardian that you can read here where the book’s author CJ Atkinson calls the fury over the book from the Mail on Sunday and Tory grandees a “trans-panic” adding: “This mud-slinging has to stop. It causes active harm. When you have a group of transgender young people, one in two will consider suicide, one in three will attempt it.” Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity? (pb, £8.99, 978 1785921056) has just been published by Jessica Kingsley.

This is very beautiful and atmospheric; a short 5 minute film celebrating the poetry of Paul Celan whose poetry is published by Carcanet – you can find out more about him here. Paul Celan (1920–1970) is among the most important German-language poets of the century, and, in George Steiner’s words, “almost certainly the major European poet of the period after 1945.” He was born Paul Antschel into a Jewish family in Bukovina, a German enclave in Romania which was destroyed by the Nazis. His parents were taken to a concentration camp in 1942, and did not return; Celan managed to escape deportation and after settling in Paris in 1948, he gained widespread recognition as a poet with the publication of his first collection of poems in German in 1952.

Lots in the papers this January about The Bad Boys of Brexit by Arron Banks (978 1785901829) from Biteback. Arron Banks enjoyed a life of happy anonymity flogging car insurance in Bristol until he dipped his toes into the shark-infested waters of politics - and decided to plunge right in! Charging into battle for Brexit, he couldn't believe how Westminster types behaved, and resolved to fight for the country's future his own way. Have a look first at this great piece on The Guardian, Politics Blog entitled Thirty Things You Didn’t Know About the Referendum and the book is also featured in  Reuters, the Daily Express, The Guardian the Telegraph , Vanity Fair and The Economist.

And finally – who’s seen La La Land? Here's  a trailer to whet your appetite – and whatever you do, don’t forget to stock up on truckloads of 100 Reasons to Love Ryan Gosling by Joanna Benecke (pb, £12.99, 978 0859655019) from Plexus – which I can guarantee will fly off your shelves as effortlessly as Ryan and Emma Stone fly around in the film! Packed with trivia, jokes, and over 100 full-colour photos that graphically illustrate his physical perfection, 100 Reasons to Love Ryan Gosling provides scientifically irrefutable evidence of exactly why Ryan is so damn loveable. Is it because he takes his mom to film premieres? Plays in a hip indie band? Carries his dog through airports? Breaks up street fights? Furthered the feminist cause without even trying? Has no problem with nudity even when the script doesn't strictly require it? It's all these things and more – just order the damn book!
That’s all for now folks! More next week!
This newsletter 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.

Friday 6 January 2017

Compass Points 198

A shout-out first to bookseller Steve Bloom who owns the small bookshop Bloomindales in the lovely village of Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales. Steve has been all over the national press and airwaves this week and branded "the bookseller from hell" because of his decision to charge 50p entry to his shop in order to deter the time-wasting browsers he’s described as “a pain in the arse”. Now, public opinion seems to be very divided on this one to say the least! Is he, as some have said, the “Basil Fawlty of booksellers” who totally fails to understand the basics of good customer service? Or is he making a brave stand against the sort of shopper that I’m sure all of you know very well – the one who enjoys spending the best part of an hour thumbing through your carefully curated highly recommended titles – and then having decided what to purchase; pulls out his phone and orders it from Amazon! Read the whole story here in the Telegraph and here  in the Mail!

New year, new you and all that; and although most of us know that a bit of meditation may well improve our lives, the excuse that most of us use is that we just don’t have time for all that sitting still, lotus position, chanting malarkey. OK, but what if it took just four minutes? Rebekah Bex Borucki has taught hundreds of thousands of people how to create simple yet powerful meditation practices and in a new book coming from Hay House in February, she’ll show you how in less than 5 mins you can change your life to find deep, meaningful, and lasting healing. You Have 4 Minutes to Change Your Life: Simple 4-Minute Meditations for Inspiration, Transformation, and True Bliss (pb, £12.99, 978 1781806357) combines mantras, affirmations, breathing, bodywork techniques and technical information as well as answering many common questions. It will be serialised in Red magazine this spring.

We all have book jackets we love and ones we hate too! Covers are undoubtedly an important tool in an author’s “brand” – and can make a major difference to their sales.  Overall, which brands do you feel performed well in 2016 – and which were not so great? Have a look at this fun piece looking at the zeros and heroes of brand identity last year; Uber and Instagram for example…

Some of you may have heard already that author Michel Déon died in Galway on 28 December at the age of 97. Déon, born in Paris, was the author of more than 50 works of fiction and non-fiction, and a member of the Académie Française. His 1970 novel Les Poneys Sauvages was awarded the prestigious Prix Interallié and in 1973 Le Taxi Mauve (later made into a film starring Fred Astaire and Charlotte Rampling) won the Grand Prix du Roman de l’Académie FrançaiseThe Foundling Boy was published in 1975.
His new novel The Great and the Good (pb, £8.99, 978 1910477281) is published next week by Gallic. Set in 1950’s America, The Great and the Good is about a young Frenchman growing up to understand that life is bigger than he thought and that love is not always fair. Arthur Morgan is aboard the Queen Mary, where a scholarship at an Ivy League university awaits him, along with the promise of a glittering future. But the few days spent on the ship will have a defining effect on the young Frenchman, when he encounters the love of his life. You can watch a ten-minute clip here of Michel Déon talking to his translator Julian Evans about his time as a young man in 1950’s New York when he met the literary giant William Faulkner. This and other experiences clearly influenced The Great and the Good and is fascinating stuff. This clip is only a brief example of an extraordinary life lived by an extraordinary man; as William Boyd remarked: “Our lives would be all the richer if we read a Michel Déon novel” and I urge you to stock The Great and The Good and other titles by this great writer whose novels; as the New York Times said; offer such a “a witty, panoramic view of French society and history”. And, stop press – there was a glowing review of The Great and The Good yesterday in the Mail – which you can read here saying “It’s a shame we have waited so long for what is a wonderfully well-crafted and moving essay on the enduring and often illogical pain of first love, but good that at last Deon will finally garner the plaudits here that he deserves.”

Is it your New Year’s resolution to move out from behind the till – or pile of returns – and write your own bestselling novel? Is there a formula you could follow? Can you deliberately write a guaranteed sold gold bestseller? Have a look at this fun piece in the Guardian, entitled The Bestseller Experiment which investigates just how easy or difficult becoming a successful author would be!

The Daily Mail’s You Magazine have chosen Eat Well, Stay Well: What to Eat to Beat Common Ailments (pb, £12.99, 978 1859063712) by Dr Sarah Brewer as their book of the week on Jan 29th. There is also coverage of this title which is published by Connections coming up in other magazines such as Woman’s Own and it’s definitely a book to have on the shelves as eating the right things to stay healthy is undoubtedly one of THE buzz topics of 2017. This 176-page full colour paperback with flaps is a great looking package and is packed with nutritional advice based on the latest scientific evidence. It is organized by ailment for quick and easy reference on how to combat the fifty most common health issues. From high blood pressure to eczema, and osteoarthritis to depression, the book includes tasty recipes plus advice on the twenty key superfoods offering all-round benefits – in fact everything you need to give your health a fighting chance.

Loads of publicity for a new title coming this month from Jessica Kingsley this month Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity? A Guide for Friends, Family and Professionals by C J Atkinson (pb, 978 1785921056, £8.99) which explains medical transitioning to children and follows a 12-year-old character called Kit, who is transitioning from female to male. The publisher says there has been “considerable interest” from schools in ordering the title. “With the growing number of children questioning their gender, schools and parents across the country have been challenged over the limited support they can offer them … there is a definite lack of resources out there for teachers, parents and children themselves.” Needless to say, this excellent title has already received criticism from the Daily Mail which you can read here ; their columnist Sarah Vine said it is targeted at children who are “not even ready to choose their A-level subjects, let alone challenge their own biology”. Former MP Anne Widdecombe said the book was “nonsense. You can’t expect children to say that’s not a boy when it obviously is. At the age of seven, you know if someone is a boy or if they are a girl. It’s normal.” Jessica Kingsley said negative headlines about the book from some areas of the press were “disappointing” but “to be expected”. Their spokesperson told the Bookseller“Debates surrounding young transgender people are inherently sensitive and people have firmly held beliefs but sensational headlines fail to acknowledge how young trans people are some of the most at risk individuals in society. This is why we published Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity? to ensure parents and those working with children have access to the support and guidance they need.” There is no doubt at all that gender diversity is one of the key issues of the moment and there are many many people who are looking to become more informed on the subject – whether its relevant to their own children or just in general. I think there will be a big market for this title; it is absolutely not just for teachers and the “outraged of Tunbridge Wells” publicity will all help to generate awareness – and demand.

Good to hear Rebecca Goss as Lesley Dolphin’s sofa guest on Radio Suffolk this week, talking about her moving poetry collection Her Birth published by Carcanet – which has been shortlisted for many prizes. Goss’s newborn daughter Ella was diagnosed with a rare and incurable heart condition and lived for just sixteen months. Her Birth is a book-length sequence of poems beginning with Ella’s birth, her short life and her death, and ending with the joys and complexities that come with the birth of another child. Goss navigates the difficult territory of grief and loss in poems that are spare, tender and haunting. You can listen to that interview here.

Hurry to place your orders for The Wit and Wisdom of Donald Trump (pb, £5.00, 978 1911072157) which is published by Skyscraper Publications on 12 January – just in time for Trump’s inauguration as US president on January 20. It’s only £5 and is the perfect humorous gift – consisting as it does, of almost entirely blank pages!! The chapter headings include: How I will bring peace to the world; How I will heal the divisions in American society between racial, ethnic and lifestyle groups; How I will protect the rights of women; and How I will demonstrate restraint, civilised behaviour, and compassion. There are also sections on the major positive achievements of Trump’s business career and the benefits his presidency will bring to the US, as well as tributes from beneficiaries of his charity giving and testimonials to his qualities from leading statesmen. Publisher Karl Sabbagh said: “Enormous research went into the preparation of this book. But, as we neared publication date, we had reluctantly to accept that, apart from the chapter titles, the pages would have to remain blank. No example of wit or wisdom among the words of Donald Trump would have escaped the research team if it had existed. We hesitated over the last chapter, since the researchers found a quote from Vladimir Putin appearing to praise Trump. But we decided that it was actually tongue in cheek and not worthy of inclusion. Funnily enough, I met him in 1987 when I was making a documentary and I talked to him in his office. I was struck then by the total absence of anything witty or wise in what he said. We suspected that he hadn’t ever said anything interesting, but of course you have to do research to be sure.” The Wit and Wisdom of Donald Trump is available now – put a stack by the till and I think customers will pick it up, it’s topical, it’s funny, it’s a good price and it’s a great way of marking one of the most extraordinary moments in world history.
And finally – we all need a bit of cheering up at this time of year – so here are ten songs guaranteed to make you feel better!

Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. This week let’s see what VeryBritishProblems@SoVeryBritish has to say about the New Year...
"I might go for a run tonight" Translation: I might go for a short, agonizing, breathless, limping, shuffle tonight.
Trying to eat healthily when the cupboard still contains two tubs of chocolates, three tins of posh biscuits and half a pack of mince pies
Strictly not drinking in January, except for: 1. Beer and wine 2. At weekends (including Thursdays) 3. In pubs 4. When bored.
"What's this we're watching?" Translation: This is awful, please make it stop.
Trying to remember the last time you ate something that wasn't on a cling-filmed plate in the fridge.
"I'm so full, I'm never eating again" "Mince pie?" "Yes."
Gearing yourself up to tell the hairdresser you fancy something a bit different, knowing full well you'll never actually ask.
The pharmacy: a room full of people all facing in completely random directions, so everyone knows they're not in the queue.
The heartbreaking moment you realize you've missed the bin collection.
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.