Friday 29 March 2019

Compass Points 299

Very well done to Kogan Page and Crown House who scooped up the Leadership Book of the Year and HR and Management Book of the Year respectively at the at the Business Book Awards this week! You can see the full list of winners here. An especially big pat on the back to Leadership Lab: Understanding Leadership in the 21st Century (£14.99, pb, 978 0749483432) which also won the top prize of overall Business Book of the Year. With this book, readers can gain exclusive insight into what leading business executives think are the main geopolitical and economic megatrends affecting business and how they are responding to them. You can read a sample chapter here.  In The Learning Imperative, bestselling authors Mark Burns and Andy Griffith explore the common barriers to effective learning and present a range of practical tools and strategies to help teams bring about and reap the benefits of a more positive culture around training and development.

Nadine Aisha Jassat's debut poetry collection Let Me Tell You This (978 1912489121, £8.99, pb) launched in Edinburgh last week which concluded a month of Nadine holding events in Glasgow, Belfast, Keswick, St Andrews and talking on BBC Radio Scotland. Looking forward, Nadine will be in Newcastle on April 9th at Waterstones Emerson Chambers, as well as making appearances in Bradford, Halifax and at the Edinburgh Festival in the summer. Let Me Tell You This is a vital exploration of racism, gender-based violence, and the sustaining, restorative bonds between women, told with searing precision and intelligent lyricism. Jackie Kay called the book “a punchy, powerful debut”, Hollie McNish said “I really like Nadine’s poetry” and Zeba Talkhani said “There is so much beauty and truth in these verses, I’m in awe of the multitude of emotions packed tightly in each poem.” You can hear an interview with Nadine talking about and reading from her book on the Scots Whay Hae! podcast here. It’s just been published by 404 Ink – one of our newer publishing clients, who you can find out more about here.  

Wowsers, who saw the Pinch of Nom phenomenon coming? Authored by Kay Featherstone and Kate Allinson, it published via crowdsourcing in the UK on Thursday last week, and in just three days it sold more than 210,000 copies making it the fastest selling non-fiction book since records began, by quite some margin! Read more about its extraordinary success in the Guardian here.  

Exciting news for Comma this week, with the announcement that Gaia Holmes' poetry collection, Where the Road Runs Out (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974452) has been longlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2019.The £10k prize celebrates books that embody the spirit of place; in Gaia's case that place being the archipelago of Orkney, and the Calder where Gaia grew up and currently lives. The award is in its fifteenth year and the longlist of twenty titles will be whittled down to a shortlist by the three judges and announced next month, with a winner announced in May. You can find more info on the Royal Society of Literature’s website here.  Below are the final verses from Before All This – one of the poems in the collection. You can read the whole poem here  – or even better, order the book!

Before all this,
if we wanted to see
a blood moon, a harvest moon,
a shooting star,
we’d step outside.
We’d live in it.

Before all this
snow and autumn leaves
came without a hashtag.
We did not need an app
for relaxation or meditation.
We did not need an app
for empathy or humanity.
They were things we knew
how to do
without instruction
and we did them well.
We did good things
for the goodness
of doing them
and not for the ticks,
the gain, the glowing kudos

Before all this
was more than a click.
‘Liking’ came from our lips.
Love came with flesh.
Some parts of us were secret.
Some parts of us
were never shared.
Some parts of us
were never spoken.

Calista, author of Unicorn Rising (978 1788170918, pb, £12.99) which is published by Hay House has just been named as the Best Spiritual Newcomer in Soul and Spirit magazine. I am sensing a certain scepticism from some of you more cynical booksellers out there, but 300,000 readers think otherwise, and the reviews for this author on Amazon are VERY enthusiastic, so I suggest you park your cynicism and order it! Calista has given me the courage to be myself and to stand out as the unique individual I am, without fear of what others will think about my beliefs. Her personal story is inspiring and the warmth of her words envelop you with a sense of comfort and hope. Unicorn Rising has helped me to embrace my weirdness and appreciate my differences, even though if I’m honest, I was sceptical at first reading a book about unicorns but how wrong was I? Take a detox from social media and try out some of the meditations in this book and prepare to be amazed.”

Do we think Calista is her real name, or is it something a little more prosaic? Take this quiz on Buzzfeed to see if you know if these are real names or stage names!

This week’s Poem of the Week in the Guardian is Supplication by AC Jacobs, which is printed in Nameless Country: Selected Poems (pb, £12.99, 978 1784106751) edited by Anthony Rudolf and Merle Bachman and published by Carcanet. You can read it  here.  This collection gathers poems by the Scottish-Jewish poet whose work, somewhat critically neglected in the past, has gained new resonance for twenty-first-century readers. Writing in the shadow of the Holocaust, Jacobs in his poems confronts his complex cultural identity as a Jew in Scotland, as a Scot in England, and as a diaspora Jew in Israel, Italy, Spain and the UK.

Loads of publicity still on going for Breakthrough Babies: An IVF Pioneer's Tale of Creating Life Against All Odds (£14.99, pb, 978 1788600736) by Professor Simon Fishel which you can see here. Published by Practical Inspiration, this unique account from the frontline of fertility treatment, has had major coverage in all the newspapers, and gives a real insight into not only the scientific advances involved but the human cost and rewards behind this life-changing technology.  

This week saw Waterstone’s say it can't pay the living wage because its profits aren’t high enough, and numerous authors including David Nicholls, Michael Rosen, Sally Rooney and Val McDermid supported a staff appeal. You can read what James Daunt had to say in the Guardian on Tuesday here  and a piece by ex-Waterstones bookseller Jim Taylor here.  

Mothering Sunday this weekend of course, and a good opportunity to tell you about Mother: A Human Love Story (978 1780275123, £9.99, pb) which has just been published by Birlinn. In this book, Matt Hopwood presents a selection of deep, powerful stories of and by mothers which were told openly and bravely to him. Women, men, children, teenagers and centenarians tell their experiences of childhood, motherhood, birth, loss and love from as far afield as the USA, Russia, Taiwan, and Europe as well as the UK. Clare Balding said it “allows us all to learn more about the thing that makes each of our lives unique; our experience and understanding of love”. The warm and empathetic book has a foreword by Miranda Sawyer.

On the subject of mothers, and more specifically what used to be referred to as Mother’s Ruin, I see in today’s news  that sales of gin in the UK have massively increased, with a noticeable spike in sales in the weeks leading up to Mothering Sunday! A record 73 million bottles of gin, worth more than £2bn, were sold last year and sales of the tipple have almost doubled in two years. This Ginaissance is an excellent opportunity to sell even more copies of Ian Buxton’s 101 Gins to Try Before You Die (hb, £12.99, 978 1780275659) methinks. And on the subject of booze for mums, wine expert Dave Zyw will be at the Aye Write festival this Sunday for fizz and fun as he talks about 101 Champagnes to Try Before You Die (£14.99, hb, 978 1780275567) and the explosion in popularity of not only champagne but prosecco, cava, and crémant; sparkling wine sales have increased by 76% in the last five years! Both titles are published by Birlinn.

And finally, I very much like the look of these four little paperbacks by Anne Cakebread: Teach Your Dog Cornish (978 1912631100), Teach Your Dog Gaelic (978 1912631117), Teach Your Dog Irish (978 1912631094) and Teach Your Dog Japanese (978 1912631124) which are published in August by Y Lofa and The Welsh Books Council.  Follow ups to the bestselling Teach Your Dog Welsh, (£4.99, pb, 978 1912631025) Teach Your Cat Welsh (978 1912631087, pb, £4.99) is coming on 6 May! These books have a pronunciation guide for every phrase and are suitable as a first introduction for learners and for tourists who would like a fun way to pick up a few basic words! Many of the phrases can also be used in non-dog-related situations and there are beautiful retro-style illustrations throughout. I think these could well be bit of a hit – look out for them!

Let’s not even go there with the B word today – but to finish I think you will enjoy this ; the ever-brilliant Cassetteboy’s vision of Theresa May auditioning for The Greatest Dancer!
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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