Friday 15 March 2019

Compass Points 297

How thrilled were we this week for four of our Compass publishers when Wild Things won the inaugural British Book Awards Small Press of the Year, Parthian won the award for Wales and Carcanet for the North! And Comma were highly commended too! You can read all about it in the Bookseller here. Congratulations all!

Wild Things have been a stonking success story since their beginnings in 2011. Operating from the confluence of two rivers in a Somerset valley, they now have twenty-seven titles covering swimming, cycling, running, exploring, walking, ruins, meadows and the coast. Taking readers to places no other guidebooks reach; combining action-inspiring photography with beautiful maps, detailed instructions, directions and safety info; their turnover has grown dramatically from £33k to £823k in 5 years. The Bookseller noted them as the fastest growing travel publisher of 2017, achieving growth of 129.5%, compared to the travel books average of -3%. Wild Swimming alone has now sold over 70k copies and was made into primetime ITV and BBC shows. Bikepacking, Hidden Beaches, Wild Ruins and Wild Running have also inspired new communities, and BBC Countryfile episodes. The publisher is rightly proud of its record on “creating authors” as they take impassioned adventurers and train them in writing, photography and media management, so they can become career authors and expert commentators. And of course, their PR skills are second to none, with Wild Things books regularly achieving national newspaper coverage. It has a special relationship with the Guardian, the Sunday Times, the Times and Telegraph, resulting in 50 extracts placed since 2012 and a combined presence of 20,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Well done guys – we love you and your wonderful books!

More excitement with the news that And Other Stories’ Chilean author Alia Trabucco Zeran and translator Sophie Hughes have made it onto the 2019 Man Booker International Prize longlist for their debut novel The Remainder (978 1911508328, pb, £10). This is awarded for the “finest works of translation from around the world” and is worth £50,000 to its winners, split equally between author and translator. Small publishers feature big on the list of thirteen finalists as all but two are published by indie houses and the judges praise them for “enriching our idea of what fiction can do.” You can see the full list in the Guardian here and the shortlist will be announced on 9 April. Fingers crossed!

In the winter of 2009 Mac Macartney walked from his birthplace in England across Wales to the island of Anglesey, once the spiritual epicentre of Late Iron Age Britain, navigating by the sun and the stars, with no map, compass, stove or tent, and in the coldest winter for many years. The Children’s Fire (£12.99, pb, 978 1788600453 )records that journey, forging a trail into Britain’s wild and ancient Celtic past, locating the fragments of a story that still has resonance today; There’s been a great review of it in Resurgence & Ecologist calling it “elegant in its simplicity and pragmatism… radical and raw” which you can read here. It’s published by Practical Inspiration.

Most of us can remember a time when publishing marketing departments were overly keen on the concept of the promotional mug – a chunky little number with which reps would often foist on a tea-drinking bookseller in the hope of getting an order! But how many authors can say that they have had a range from Waterford Crystal inspired by their work?! I’m definitely hoping to tune in at 7pm this evening to RTE Nationwide to hear New Island author David Blake Knox talking about the line of decanters inspired by his book A Curious History of Irish Dogs (hb, £17.99, 978 1848405875). Irish Wolfhounds stalked through ancient Celtic mythology, Charles Stewart Parnell insisted that his Red Setter stay with him when he was on his death bed, hundreds of Irish Terriers served on the front lines of the trenches while the Irish Water Spaniel was reputed to be descended from the dobhar-chĂș– a Celtic spirit. Ireland’s nine native breeds of dog are an integral part of its cultural narrative and this is a really fascinating and quirky examination of the role that our canine chums have played in Ireland’s social and political history over the last few hundred years. I actually really quite fancy these dog decanters – and if you do too, and have the odd £200 knocking around then you can find them on the Waterford website here! Or why not order A Curious History of Irish Dogs instead, and then you’ll have £182.01 to spare!

Spanning decades and encompassing war, mass exodus, epic migrations and the search for individual and collective identity, The Last Earth tells the story of modern Palestine through the memories of those who have lived it. Ordinary Palestinians have rarely narrated their own history., but in this ground-breaking book, acclaimed author Ramzy Baroud draws on dozens of interviews to produce vivid, intimate and beautifully written accounts of Palestinian lives; in villages, refugee camps, prisons and cities, in the lands of their ancestors and in exile. There’s been a lot of recent publicity, with Ramzy Baroud writing pieces in Counterpunch, Middle East Media, Scoop, Gulf News, Asia Times, and the Palestine Chronicle. It's published by Pluto.

As Queen in 3D (£30, hb, 978 1999667429) continues to sell and sell, this is a really interesting article in Forbes magazine, entitled Don't Stop Us Now: What Queen Can Teach Public Relations Agencies. It says “In PR there is much to be learned and applied by paying attention to Queen’s mantra and enduring characteristics” – well worth a read for anyone interested in marketing and publicity!

Fancy a bit of an unusual break this Easter? Whether you are looking to stay on the coast, in the city, in a horse box, or maybe in your own windmill; Cool Places (£18.99, pb, 978 1906889692) has some fab ideas! There’s just been a great review, with lots of gorgeous pictures in Life Begins at 40 – which you can read here. “With excellent photography and meticulous detail, Cool Places is a great aid for any travel around Britain. The only problem in reading the colourful and comprehensive travel book is that you will want to stay in all the B&Bs, pubs and hotels listed in it.” Have a look – it really gives you a feel for the book which is published by Punk.

What would it mean to become supernatural? What if you could tune in to frequencies beyond our material world and change your brain chemistry to access transcendent levels of awareness and create a new future? This sounds like something from Torchwood or The X-Files, but no, it’s what New York Times bestselling author Dr Joe Dispenza offers in Becoming Supernatural: How Common People are Doing the Uncommon (978 1781808313, £15.99); a revolutionary book that allow ordinary people to reach extraordinary states of being. Using tools and practices ranging from state-of-the-art brain imaging to exercises such as a walking meditation, Dr Joe offers nothing less than a program for stepping outside our physical reality and into a new world. It has just been published by Hay House, and was recently promoted via a giveaway in Kindred Spirit magazine which has a circulation of over 150,000 readers.

Jenny Lewis will be on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb this evening which is very exciting; you can listen to that here. The episode is entitled New Writers, Old Stories and Jenny will be discussing her versatile and inventive retelling of Gilgamesh (£12.99, pb, 978 1784106140) and how she captured the powerful allure of the world’s oldest poem. She relocates it to its earlier, oral roots in a Sumerian society where men and women were more equal, the reigning deity of Gilgamesh’s city, Uruk, was female, only women were allowed to brew beer and keep taverns and women had their own language. It’s published by Carcanet.

I hope everyone who went had a great London Book Fair! Here's a fun round-up of the week in pictures in the Bookseller! Our own Trade Sales Director Simon Kingsley has made the cut I’m pleased to see; here he is accepting the Small Press of the Year Award on behalf of Wild Things!

Well, I must admit that in amongst all the other Comic Relief fun and games this evening, I am REALLY looking forward to the Four Weddings and a Funeral reunion! If you are a fan like me, then you’ll probably enjoy reliving some of the best bits of the original here!

That’s all for now folks! More next week!

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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