Wednesday 19 December 2018

Compass Points 287

Happy Christmas! This is the final Compass Points of the year and we would like to wish every bookseller, publisher and publicist a fabulous festive season! Here’s a round-up of the publicity highlights for the final weeks of 2018.

First up is this beautiful ten-minute film made by BBC Future about Brian May and his passion for Victorian stereoscopy. It references Queen in 3D and Mission Moon (which of course have been two of our biggest sellers this year) and is a genuinely fascinating little documentary. As Robin Rees publisher at London Stereoscopic says: “The footage is far higher calibre than the usual live interviews and if I had to pick one item summarising everything we are trying to do LSC, this would be it.” Have a watch I think you will enjoy it!

Another author this year whose passion for his subject really helped shift those copies was the wonderful 96-year-old WWII veteran John Martin, whose appearance on The One Show at the end of November sent A Raid Over Berlin (£8.99, pb, 978 1912681198straight into the bestseller lists. This engaging and compulsively readable true-life tale of the airman who cheated death in the sky, only to face interrogation, the prospect of being shot by the Gestapo, and months of hardship as a prisoner of war has been a huge and well deserved success for Parthian – and if you didn’t see it, you can watch that One Show interview on the iPlayer here  – it’s 29 minutes in.

The BBC National Short Story Award 2019 is now opened for submissions, so if you fancy dashing off an entry over the holiday – then here's where you should submit it! The new judging panel will be chaired by broadcaster Nikki Bedi, alongside Booker shortlistee Daisy Johnson and previous winner Cynan Jones, and of course the anthology of all the shortlisted stories will be published by Comma next September. 

My Bangladesh Kitchen: Recipes and Food Memories from a Family Table by Saira Hamilton (978 0754834502, £20, hb) was a Bookseller editor’s pick for March saying: "My cookery choice of the month is this enticing book on the authentic cuisine of Bangladesh" and this vibrant book published by Lorenz is packed full of Saira’s much-loved recipes, with everyday classics, regional specialities, street snacks and impressive celebration food too. There are gorgeous photographs, chatty anecdotal descriptions of every dish, and an informative introduction describing the key ingredients and cooking techniques of this land of contrasts.

Great to see a poem from Carcanet’s new selection of Charles Tomlinson’s poetry, Swimming Chenango Lake (£14.99, pb, 978 1784106799) chosen as a Guardian Poem of the Week. You can read it here. As the Guardian writes: “Tomlinson was a wide-ranging poet. His technical scope includes free form and more traditional structures, and he is a master of both. They cohabit enrichingly in Swimming Chenango Lake: a finely chosen collection for existing enthusiasts and an excellent introduction for newcomers.”

We’re loving the antics of the cheeky little Gazelle elves over on Twitter! Check out their festive fun and games at Gazelle Book Services @Gazellian 

Quite a bit of promo for Jeremy Marchant’s excellent title Network Better: How to Meet, Connect and Grow your Business (£12.99, pb, 978 1788600514) which is a very insightful guide to how to conquer any fears you have about this vital business skill, how to do it better, and how to stop tripping yourself up. Most books and presentations on networking stick to its behavioural aspects. But successful networking is also about the successful initiation and nurturing of relationships with other business people, which requires emotional intelligence and an understanding of how to apply it. Network Better provides the necessary vision into what’s going on as well as many tried-and-tested suggestions and encouragements to enable you to do just that. Jeremy will have an article in Business Works, an interview in Financial Management, a featured contribution on Emotional Intelligence & Networking Better in ManageMagazine / Biz Catalyst 360, a guest article in HR News and a feature on the MBA World Book Club. It was published by Practical Inspiration this autumn.

If you’d like to re-connect with your natural side over the festive season, here are two podcasts to listen to from the Royal Horticultural Society, both of which feature London’s Street Trees (pb, £12.99, 978 0993291135) by Paul Wood which is published by Safe Haven. There’s How to help winter wildlife, unusual street trees and are glittered plants a crime against nature?  and also Books Special 2018: Experts pick their favourites old and new, and books for Christmas presents.

A very thought-provoking article here in Stylist by Winnie M Li, Legend’s author of Dark Chapter (pb, £7.99, 978 1785079061) entitled A Message to Everyone Who Dares to Say Women Shouldn’t Travel Alone. Winnie was raped during a solo trip to Belfast but she refuses to let that incident stop her from travelling independently. “It saddens me to think that there may be young women who will not be allowed to travel now, because of what happened to Grace Millane. We are not meant to live our lives in fear, shackled by the spectre of “what might happen”. Lots of things can happen, and the majority of them are good. So get out there, discover the world, live the life you want to lead. And realise that even if you travel solo, you’re not alone. There are so many of us women out there doing the same.”

Most beautiful book covers ever in 2018? See if you agree with this selection from Buzz Feed!

Under the Wig (£16.99, hb, 978 1912454082) from Canbury Press continued its stonking run of superb reviews and stellar sales by being named as one of the best law and order books of 2018 by the Times under the heading “Escapism, extortion and everyday sexism: Put down the papers and indulge your mind during the Christmas holiday with the best of this year’s law and order books.” You can see the selection of ten titles here.

There will be a review of Tentacle (pb, £8.99, 978 1911508342) by Rita Indiana, translated by Achy Obejas, which has just been published by And Other Stories in this Saturday's Guardian Review. Tentacle is an electric novel with a big appetite and a brave vision, plunging headfirst into questions of climate change, technology, Yoruba ritual, queer politics, poverty, sex, colonialism and contemporary art. Bursting with punk energy and lyricism, it's a restless, addictive trip.

The Sheffield Telegraph included Comma’s New Uncanny (£7.95, pb, 978 1905583188) anthology in their Christmas books wish list, saying: "It might not be a conventional holiday read, but if Christmas starts to get a bit saccharine, this sounds like the perfect read to cut through it all." You can read that  here.

Super to see a massive feature for the gorgeous Amber title Ireland: The Emerald Isle (hb, 978 1782746560 £19.99) in the Daily Mail last week, saying: “Here's something we can ALL agree on about Ireland – it's beautiful! Jaw-dropping pictures capture the Emerald Isle's landscape in all its glory.” You can have a look at a selection of the 150 pictures which the Mail correctly describes as “mesmerising” here.  

Congratulations to debut Palestinian author Nayrouz Qarmout who has made World Literature Today’s list of 75 Notable Translations of 2018! The Sea Cloak (£9.99, pb, 978-1905583782) her first short story collection (translated from Arabic into English) will be published by Comma in February 2019. You can find the full list of all the notable translations here.

“If you are told you’re something often enough, you begin to believe it. Eventually, you become it. Racism can institutionalize not only the person being racist but the person on the receiving end . . . racism imprisons you and it’s incredibly difficult to escape.”  A really interesting piece here in the Irish Times, looking at the increasing awareness of racism in 2018 on the terraces and asking if it is very different to the experiences of Howard Gayle, Liverpool’s first black footballer in the 70s and 80s, with reference to what it calls “one of the most under-the-radar sports books of the past few years, 61 Minutes In Munich (hb, £16.99, 978 1909245396).” It’s published by de Coubertin.

Everyone loves a bit of Disney at Christmas, right? So this is a good moment to tell you about How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart (978 0745339788, £14.99, pb) which is out from Pluto next March. First published in 1971, How to Read Donald Duck shocked readers by revealing how capitalist ideology operates in our most beloved cartoons. Having survived bonfires, and being dumped into the ocean by the Chilean army, this controversial book is certain to ruffle feathers (see what I did there) and examines how the hapless mice and ducks of Disney, curiously parentless, marginalised and always short of cash, not only reflect capitalist ideology, but are active agents working in this ideology's favour. How to Read Donald Duck is a devastating document of twentieth-century political upheaval and a reminder of the dark undercurrent of pop culture. Ariel Dorfman, who has written a new introduction for this edition, has been getting some good publicity already – there’s an author article in the Guardian here and an interview here on Democracy Now.

And if you’d like to see a bit of Donald daftness – without worrying too much about its imperialist undertones – then this is for you; Donald Duck’s Snow Fight, from 1942. Happy Christmas!

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

Friday 7 December 2018

Compass Points 286

Congratulations to authors Les Wilson and Leila Aboulela who were both winners at the Saltire Literary Awards. You can see all the winners here. Leila Aboulela's wonderful Elsewhere, Home (£8.99, pb, 978 1846592119); published by Saqi won the Scottish Fiction Book of the Year. This is a collection of short stories that draws the reader into the lives of immigrants at home and abroad as they forge new identities and reshape old ones. The news was covered in the Herald, Scotsman and The Times. There’s also a great radio interview with Leila on BBC World Service – In The Studio. The 2018 History Book of the Year was Islay-based writer and documentary maker Les Wilson’s The Drowned and the Saved (pb, £9.99, 978 1780275437) an extensively researched account of the sinking of US troopships Tuscania and Otranto off the coast of Islay in 1918, a tribute to those who died and an exploration of the huge impact of the disaster on survivors, rescuers and the local community. It’s published by Birlinn.

If you are one of the many who are likely to be taking part in a spot of quizzing over the festive season – then these  twenty impressive literary facts may be just what you need to help you dominate on trivia night!

The weather outside is frightful so let’s talk about next year and holidays instead. Cool Places (pb, £18.99, 978 1906889692) is compiled by Rough Guides founder Martin Dunford and author Jules Brown with a host of regional specialists. Each hand-picked place has an incisive first-hand review and this lavish full-colour guide with over 300 gorgeous colour pics features everything from boutique hotels and designer B&Bs to chic country cottages and luxury glampsites. Inspired by the unique accommodation website it features over 200 of the finest places to stay in Britain, celebrating some amazing independent businesses and also including all the best stuff to do nearby: local pubs, great walks and fun activities. It’s out from Punk Publishing on 31 January and there will be lots of promotion for this one as Cool Places are the go-to UK accommodation experts for the Independent, London Evening Standard and more and there will be a nationwide PR campaign for it with exposure across all media.

I LOVE it when publishers put up promotional films for their titles on YouTube and here's a super trailer for Legend’s Pieces of Me (£8.99, pb, 978-1787198036) by Natalie Hart which as you know is shortlisted for the Costa First Book Award, one of Prima Magazine’s best novels of 2018 and the Reading Agency's best debut novels of 2018. It will be reviewed in the Guardian next week!

Taking of YouTube, let’s have a look at what the top trending videos were for 2018! Let’s take out football, the Royal Wedding and Kardashian related nonsense and based on views, likes, shares, searches, parodies, remixes and responses see what we are left with! The big Yanny/Laurel debate – remember that one? Here's an explanation as to what may or may not have been going on there! Also, the child yodelling in Walmart and five minutes of Real Life Trick Shots Ahh, the world surely can’t be too bad a place if this is what we’re most absorbed by! Strangely no videos featuring the B word appear to be in the top ten…

Casemate’s excellent Masters of Mayhem: Lawrence of Arabia and the British Military Mission to the Hejaz (hb, £19.99, 978 1612005744) by James Stejskal has been officially unveiled as one of the nominees for the Military History Monthly Book of the Year Award, alongside the Helion and Company title The Other Norfolk Admirals: Myngs, Narbrough and Shovell by Dr Simon Harris. The award is a public vote, so if you are a fan of either of these titles, please get onto the website and vote for them here!

Vex King is leading a revolution for the next generation of spiritual seekers. Despite an incredibly challenging childhood growing up in a racist, violent neighbourhood, Vex has had a successful career and became a role model for young people. Good Vibes, Good Life How Self-Love Is the Key to Unlocking Your Greatness (978 1788171823, £10.99, pb) distills the wisdom and advice he shares through his popular online platforms and has just been published by Hay House. It shares deep spiritual knowledge in a way that's easy to understand, while providing practical solutions and Vex will be interviewed on BBC Asian Network on December 19th at 2pm. Vex will also be featured in April’s Spirit and Destiny magazine on their Rising Star page. Soul and Spirit will be taking an extract from this book for their February self-love issue and there will be a feature with Vex in February’s Yoga Magazine. 

Boydell’s English Medieval Church Towers: The Northern Province (£19.99, pb, 978-1783273539) by W.E. David Ryan has just been listed as Christopher Howse’s choice for Book of the Year in The Tablet. Every medieval church tower within the Northern Province is beautifully illustrated here by a watercolour painting and is accompanied by detailed information relating to its location and date and an architectural description. Provided with an index and a glossary of terms, this book can be used both as a visitor's guide and as a reference work for the study of medieval church architecture. 

An EU directive has allowed member states to reduce or do away with VAT on digital publications such as ebooks, audiobooks, journals and newspaper subscriptions and the UK government is being urged to do the same and scrap the “illogical and unfair” 20% tax currently imposed on ebooks. The new legislation came into force on Tuesday – read more on whether Britain should “axe the reading tax” in the Guardian here.  

Great to see What a Hazard a Letter Is (hb, £14.99, 978 0993291173) featured here as one of the Mail on Sunday's YOU magazine's 12 Books of Christmas and described as an “intriguing stocking filler” and “a collection of remarkable unsent letters – angry tirades, unexpressed love and missed deliveries from both fiction and real life. Full of riveting detail for that Christmas quiz.” It’s published by Safe Haven.

Do you know your book jackets? Test your knowledge now, with The Bookseller’s annual book cover quiz based on tiny cut-out images from 50 book covers from a whole range of genres, from children’s to poetry to cookbooks. The person with the most correct answers will win a bundle of books and you can enter here.  

Two nice online reviews for a couple of Lorenz titles as the “best food and drink books of 2018” from Firstly for Liquorice, (£10, hb, 978 0754833659) by Carol Wilson saying “Notable recipes I'd like to try out include Liquorice Brownies (chocolate and liquorice are a wonderful combination), Pontefract Style Cakes, Liquorice and Fennel Trout Filets. Nice photography by Nicki Dowey and a picture for every recipe.” And also Vegetable Cakes (£10, hb, 978 0754833246) by Ysanne Spevack writing “We all know about carrot cake, but author Spevack goes further, much further. She has devised sweet recipes using vegetables: velvet artichoke heart cupcakes, spinach macaroons, and a gorgeous courgette rosette tart. If you struggle to get your kids to eat vegetables, there are some great ideas within this beautifully styled and photographed book. If, as an adult, you battle to reach your seven a day, you may find the solution here.”

If you're one of the many booksellers currently attempting to become as successful author then you might enjoy these very messy and muddled first drafts from famous authors and take some comfort that you are not the only one procrastinating and suffering from writers block!

Lots of publicity coming up in the coming weeks for Running Man (£20, hb, 978 1909245693). Its author footballer John Arne Riise will be interviewed by FulhamFanTV, BBC World Service, BBC Merseyside, CNN, the Standard, Radio City Talk, the Liverpool Echo,, BBC NW, ITV, the Daily Mail, ESPN, FourFourTwo, the Anfield Wrap and The I. He is also going to be in the Fulham programme and Reuters are doing an interview with him as well. At the start of the twenty-first century, Riise was regarded as one of the most buccaneering left-sided players in European football. During an illustrious career in which he won a Champions League title with Liverpool, he became the finest player Norway has produced in a generation. Yet beneath the veneer of the famous and successful footballer, his ascent masked the huge challenges he had had to overcome on the way to the top: bullying, a broken home, uncertainty, loneliness. Riise has written a perceptive and opinionated autobiography and this is an intriguing portrait of a complex man and a candid insight into the life of a modern footballer. It’s published by de Coubertin.

The might of Rome rested on the back of its legions; the superbly trained and equipped fighting force with which the imperial Roman army conquered, subdued and ruled an empire for centuries. Simon Elliott who is the author of Roman Legionaries: Soldiers of Empire (£7.99, pb, 978 1612006116), which was published this year in Casemate’s Short Histories series; has just appeared popular podcast Dan Snow’s History Hits. In it, Simon discusses his book and explains why the soldiers of Rome were the most elite fighting force of their age, you can listen to that here. This concise and entertaining history of the Roman legionary covers their history from the age of Augustus through the heyday of the Roman Empire. Topics include training, tactics, weapons, the men themselves, life on and off the battlefield as well as significant triumphs and disasters in the great battles of the era.

All together now – what have the Romans ever given us? Answers here!

Guyanese-British poet Fred D’Aguiar was on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row on Monday talking about Translations From Memory (pb, £9.99, 9781784106065) – you can listen to that one here.  The book wonderfully recreates moments of his and our wider history, making inclusions where exclusions have occurred before.

Great piece by Gary Younge on Pluto’s Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain by Peter Fryer (pb, 978 0745338309, £16.99) in the Guardian saying “When it was published in 1984 Staying Power vividly captured the struggle for black British identity. Nearly 35 years on it still has lessons to teach”.

Nearly 130 public libraries closed across Britain in the last year and services continue to be targets for local authority budget cuts, with remaining services increasingly reliant on voluntary staff – an extra 3,000 volunteers have been brought in to run remaining services, as the decade’s austerity pressures see councils continuing to apply swingeing cuts to budgets. You can read more on that here in the Guardian.

A new study has revealed that films adapted from books bring in an impressive 53% more revenue globally than original screenplays and out of the 20 highest grossing films of all time, only 30% of them were original stories. And looking at the stage, the top four longest-running shows in the West End are all based on literary works. Proof, if any were needed, of the importance of our wonderful industry. Of course, the adaptations as well as being successful in themselves also drive sales upwards of the books on which they’re based – one example quoted in the study is John Le CarrĂ©’s The Night Manager, published in 1993 and adapted for TV in 2016. Although the novel has been in circulation for over 25 years, more than four in every five copies it has sold to date were after the 6-part mini-series was released. The report demonstrates that the total economic contribution of UK publishing goes far beyond the profits of publishing houses and the salaries paid to those working in the industry and you can read more on that here.

Here are what Watch Mojo thinks are the top ten books to film adaptations, and here are the top ten movies “most people don’t know are based on books” Well, “most people who aren’t booksellers” I assume!

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