Friday 14 September 2018

Compass Points 274

Thanks very much Waterstones online for all your support for the newly published Butch Wilkins and the Sundance Kid: A Teenage Obsession with TV Sport (£9.99, pb, 978 1788850926); it’s currently the lead title in the Sport Paperback Highlights. It chronicles Nige Tassell’s decade-long obsession with televised sport during his teenage years in the 1980s and is a memoir intertwined with nostalgia, ruminations on the changing face of sport, portraits of its heroes and villains, and reflections on teenagehood and impending adulthood. Sweet, wise and witty, Butch Wilkins and the Sundance Kid combines humour, insight and poignancy to vividly depict the way sport can transcend the television screen to impact on wider life, hopes and ambitions. There’s been plenty of coverage already for this entertaining title, including features on TalkRadio and TalkSport, a great online author article in GQ and a long interview broadcast on BBC Radio Bristol. This title will appeal to fans of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch, Giles Smith’s Midnight In The Garden of Evel Knievel and Martin Kelner’s Sit Down And Cheer. It’s just been published by Arena Sport.

In the GQ piece Nige picks his favourite sporting memories from the 80’s - that golden era of free-to-air TV. Have a read here and see which ones you remember!

Tonight from 7.15pm the shortlist for the BBC National Short Story Award 2018 will be announced on BBC Radio4 's Front Row. We're excited, tune in! The BBC National Short Story Award Anthology (978 1910974414, £7.99, pb) is now in its thirteenth year and is published by Comma shortly. All the shortlisted stories will be in the anthology, and the winner will be announced Tuesday 2nd October live on Radio 4. The book is edited by editor and publisher of the Times Literary Supplement Stig Abell who is chairing the judging panel for the 2018 award.

You should be seeing a fair amount of Alastair Campbell next week, as he promotes Volume 7: From Crash to Defeat (£25.00, hb, 978 1785900853) of his much-acclaimed series of diaries, published by Biteback on Thursday. Look out for his appearances on BBC Politics Live, ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Sky News, as well as interviews on LBC, Talk Radio and TalkSport. Looking further ahead, Alastair will appear on the next Chatham House podcast, hit podcast How to Fail with Elizabeth Day, How to Change the World with Channel 4 News’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy, and BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show. In this volume Alastair Campbell finds himself being torn in several directions caught in the no man's land between being a key figure in Downing Street and the relative anonymity of the world outside politics. Having succeeded Tony Blair as Prime Minister, Gordon Brown wants Campbell at his side. Campbell resists, flooding his reservoir of guilt as a general election looms and Brown's indecision and fluctuating moods suggest the Labour administration is seriously threatened by the Tory posh boy, David Cameron. The intensity of the months leading up to 6 May 2010 is as dramatic as any screenplay, with Campbell chronicling Brown's struggle to win over a disillusioned nation and then his dignified departure from the main stage.

Some brilliant publicity for First Bridge Too Far by Mark Saliger (978 1612006895, £22.50, hb) with big features in both the Mail  and the Sun. This is great PR for this title, publicizing it as an “amazing story told in a new book commemorating the 75th anniversary of a forgotten World War Two offensive” and both tabloids make it sound like a thoroughly riveting read with loads of great pictures and quotes from the book – have a look! This well-researched narrative solely dedicated to one of the bloodiest and hardest fought campaigns of World War Two has just been published by Casemate and is a story that now on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Primosole Bridge, really deserves to be read in order to honour Britain’s unsung heroes.

I am loving this super display and tweet from Waterstone’s Braehead for The Relentless Tide (£8.99, pb, 978 1846974120) which is the new DCI Daley thriller from Denzil Meyrick, just published by Polygon. You’ll remember that an article by Denzil featured on the BBC Scotland website recently, and they are so pleased with the response to that (now at 930k hits!) that they are using some more material from their interview and running another feature next week! Denzil is also appearing on BBC Radio Scotland's Off the Ball show, hosted by Stuart Cosgrove, this Saturday, which is one of the UK’s most popular radio shows. The Relentless Tide begins when a team of archaeologists find the remains of three women on a remote Kintyre hillside, a site rumoured to have been the base of a Viking warlord. Their delight soon turns to horror when they realise the women tragically met their end little more than two decades ago and it soon becomes clear that these are the three missing victims of the `Midweek Murderer', a serial killer who was at work in Glasgow in the early 1990s. DCI Jim Daley now has the chance to put things right and to confront a nightmare from his past and solve a crime he failed to as a young detective. Momentum is definitely building for this author – all the reader reviews say this is his best yet – and the publicity should increase his sales still further.

Fungi are vital to life on Earth but little studied. 2,000 new species of fungi were discovered in 2017 alone – which scientists say shows how little is known about the organisms – you can read that fascinating story here  in the Guardian. A good opportunity to remind you about the fabulous Mushroom Cookbook (978 0754832867, £15, hb) which won The Best Mushroom Cookbook Award in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards last year. This lovely guide to edible, wild and cultivated mushrooms contains a whole host of tempting and original recipes to use them through the seasons. It’s fully illustrated throughout and a beautiful and informative portrait gallery of the different mushrooms offers culinary suggestions and ideas for making the most of each one. 

Bruce Grobbelaar is the most decorated goalkeeper in Liverpool FCs 125-year history. And yet, question marks have followed him around; question marks about his goalkeeping suitability after arriving on Merseyside; question marks about his integrity after match fixing allegations were laid against him. In Life in a Jungle (£20, hb, 978-1909245570) which is out from De Coubertin next week, Grobbelaar gives us his side of the story. He takes you to Africa, where nothing is at it seems; he takes you back to an era when Liverpool ruled Europe; he takes you to the benches of the Anfield dressing room, where only the strongest personalities survived. And for the first time, he takes you inside the court room, detailing the draining fight to clear his name. The Mail on Sunday have an interview and serialisation of the book this weekend, and then CNN, Press Association, LFCTV, BBC World Service and BBC Sport all have interviews next week. There will also be a piece in the Guardian, an article in the November issue of FourFourTwo magazine – and lots more to come!
And if you’re not familiar with the Liverpool legend – then have a watch here – five minutes of his best saves!

Claims that schools in the north of England are worse than those in the south are based on myth and bad data, according to a large-scale research project that calls into question the education policies of successive governments. The study also challenges the idea that selective grammar schools or academies are more likely to improve pupil progress overall than community comprehensives – you can read more in the Guardian here. This controversial article was published this week and was written by Stephen Gorard, who strongly believes in the transformative power of education and is on a mission to find evidence of what actually works. However, he is frustrated by policymakers not wanting to listen. “Politicians hear what they want to hear – they adopt or accept evidence that suits their prior beliefs and values,” he says. Gorard’s findings are presented in his new book Education Policy: Evidence of Equity and Effectiveness (pb, £24.99, 978 1447342151) which has just been published by Policy Press. Supported by twenty years of extensive, international research, this approachable text brings invaluable insights into the underlying problems within education policy, and proposes practical solutions for a brighter future.

Vinegar is definitely having a moment at present – there was a long feature about its many benefits in Waitrose Weekend recently. Lorenz have two terrific titles on the subject: Vinegar: 250 Practical Uses in the Home by Bridget Jones (£9.99, pb, 978 1780190112) is a comprehensive and practical book covering health, healing, beauty homecare and cooking. Colour photographs throughout illustrate the versatility and benefits of this magical ingredient. Vinegar (hb, £4.99, 978 0754830634) by Helen Sudell is a fab collection of twenty-five recipes featuring all types of vinegar. Recipes feature varieties for making dressings and chutneys as well as sauces, baking and drinks and with its easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions and photos, this great little cookbook is the perfect introduction to this useful and versatile ingredient.

Interesting news this week that Tesco are about to enter the deep discount territory – you can read that story here on the BBC. Kogan Page have an excellent book on this subject coming on 3 October; Retail Disruptors: The Spectacular Rise and Impact of the Hard Discounters by Jan-Benedict Steenkamp and Laurens Sloot (£19.99, pb, 978 0749483470). This is the first book that explores this upheaval, providing expert insight into the business models of the leading hard discounters, and explaining what mainstream retailers and brand manufacturers can do to remain competitive in the face of disruption. Meticulously researched by two of the leading authorities in this field, it describes the retail strategies and business models behind the likes of Aldi, Lidl and Trader Joe's and provides traditional retailers with the essential tips, strategies and techniques they need to survive.

And so to finish, I think you’ll enjoy this  commercial for Aldi – which strangely, never aired on mainstream TV!

This weekly blog is written for the UK book trade. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the Compass office on 020 8326 5696. Every Friday an e-newsletter containing highlights from the blog is sent out to over 700 booksellers – and if you’d like to receive this then please contact

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