Friday 17 May 2019

Compass Points 305

Major publicity for the spectacular new Wild Things title Islandeering: Adventures Around the Edge of Britain's Hidden Islands (£16.99, pb, 978 1910636176); here on the BBC (which had 600,000 views) and here and here in the Mail, and here on the front page of the Saturday Guardian Travel section; has now pushed this title to the top of the charts on Amazon. If you haven’t got it in your bookshop yet then you are truly missing out – this publisher knows which outdoor trend is hitting the zeitgeist and Islandeering is definitely it! Many booksellers were surprised by how well they did with the Scottish Bothy Bible given that bothies are relatively obscure; and I think this title has exactly the same appeal. Islandeering shares similar psychology as climbing to the summit of a mountain, according to author Lisa Drewe, appealing to the same "completist" urge. Lisa hiked, biked, swum and kayaked around 150 islands in the UK before selecting her 50 favourites and this gorgeous book is for both genuine adventurers and also those who just want to look at the pictures and imagine themselves bothy-bagging or conquering one of these stunning little pieces of paradise!

Leanne Maskell was on the ITV’s Lorraine breakfast show this week, talking about The Model Manifesto: An A-Z Anti-Exploitation Manual for the Fashion Industry (£14.99, pb, 978 1788600651). You can see a short clip here; this tweet alone has had 2.5K views and the Lorraine show regularly gets a million viewers, so this is really terrific publicity. There has also been coverage in the Times, Grazia, Mail, Sun, Express, the Independent and on the BBC. The Mail piece was headlined “Former model who began her career at 13, reveals her agency told her to lose 5cm from her hips for a job she wasn't even paid for and sent emails asking what she had eaten. She's written a tell-all manifesto for models to avoid exploitation” and had a full credit for the book – you can read that article here.  This guide to the modelling industry focuses on ending the financial, physical, sexual and emotional exploitation of aspiring and current models and it really is a great read – highly recommended. It’s published by Practical Inspiration.

We’ve just heard that there will be a big serial in the Daily Mail sometime pre-publication for the Biteback title Cleaning Up the Mess: After the MP’s Expenses Scandal by Ian Kennedy (978 1785904943, hb, £20).  Ian will also be interviewed on BBC R4’s Today programme, and on Iain Dale's show on LBC and there will be a feature in the Daily Telegraph. It’s hard to believe that it’s now ten years since the news broke that MPs had been claiming taxpayer’s money to pay for such excesses as a floating duck-house, moat-cleaning services and 550 sacks of manure – revelations which shook Westminster. Ian Kennedy was the chairman of Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority for its first seven years, designed to scrutinise every claim and hold MPs to account. He came up against a series of obstacles, ranging from MPs who had never used a computer to vicious online abuse, all the while being hounded by the press for not doing what they wanted. Riveting stuff, and it’s published on 11 June.

Big congratulations to all of our friends at Emerald, who won the Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year Award at the Nibbies this week. The British Book Awards judges applauded Emerald’s PR and marketing activity, which “achieved some impressive coverage for its books in mainstream as well as academic channels”; and also admired Emerald’s “care of people” – authors and staff alike. “This is obviously a great place to be published – a real go-to place for academics” they said. They saw concerted efforts to support diversity too, both in Emerald’s output by appointing its first Gender and Diversity Publisher, and in-house by launching a STRIDE initiative and tackling issues around family-friendly working and the gender pay divide. Fantastic! You can find all the winners here.  

We were also so pleased to see the wonderful Golden Hare Bookshop win Independent Bookshop of the Year!  The judges called it an “effervescent Edinburgh indie” saying “in a city not short on either bookshops or distinctive independent retailers, Golden Hare stands out for the beauty of its boutique-style store, its sharp growth in sales, and its eagerness to try new things in the pursuit of customers.” And Compass were thrilled to get a shout-out in their Twitter thank-you thread, where as well as thanking writers, staff, the independent book trade and the Stockbridge community; they said thanks “to publishers whose reps take the time to see us and get to know us – we have learned so much from you. John McColgan, @MackayGillian, @BloomsburyNorth and @compass_david especially.” Thanks guys – we love you too!

Super to see the fabulous Comma profiled as the 10th and final radical indie publisher in Huck Magazine, who said of their work “Unapologetically political, Comma Press are in the vanguard of UK literary culture”, you can read the whole piece here.

Who knows a mum who blogs, Instagrams or Facebooks? Most of us almost certainly do, and I for one am very much looking forward to reading The Mummy Bloggers (pb, £8.99, 978 1789550535) a new novel out on 3 June from Legend which takes a sharp and funny look at this all too popular phenomenon! The title will be will be featured in the Mail on Sunday’s You Magazine on 2nd June and stars three mummy bloggers, each of them idolised, imitated, taunted and trolled online. When the women are nominated for a prestigious blogging award with a hefty cash prize, the scene is set for a brutal and often hilarious battle for hearts, minds, and clicks! Author Holly Wainwright has been called “the freshest, funniest new voice in fiction since Liane Moriarty” and this perceptive novel looks like a winner to me!

Robin Renwick will be appearing on BBC BookTalk tomorrow to discuss his Biteback memoir Not Quite A Diplomat (£20, hb, 978 1785904592). The FT said that “in the century since the British imperial statesman Sir Alfred Milner started the Boer War, no British envoy has had such an impact on South Africa as Sir Robin Renwick.” Sir Max Hastings said he was “an ambassador with real clout in Washington” and the Guardian wrote that “he became a bridge between the ANC and De Klerk’s government and a personal friend of Nelson Mandela.” This entertaining book looks back over an illustrious career in the foreign service and paints vivid and revealing first-hand portraits of some of the giants of international politics over the past forty years, from Mugabe to George Bush Sr, the Clintons and Margaret Thatcher.

Great to hear that Carcanet poet Phoebe Power has been shortlisted for the Somerset Maugham Award  for Shrines of Upper Austria (£9.99, pb, 978 1784105341). This playful exploration of unfamiliarity as a traveller wanders across Austria, observing lakes, folk culture and uneasy histories is a welcome engagement with European culture in the wake of Brexit as the poems reconsider the meaning of the terms ‘foreign’ and ‘home’. The Somerset Maugham Awards are for published works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by writers under 35, to enable them to enrich their work by gaining experience of foreign countries. Past winners include Helen Oyeyemi, Julian Barnes and Zadie Smith. The award will be presented at a party at Southwark Cathedral on the evening of Monday 17th June. You can find out more here.

We were pleased to see TWO Comma titles in the Guardian’s Top 10 Books about Sudan which you can see here. Firstly, the Book of Khartoum (£9.99, pb, 978 1905583720) which they said was “a vivid, and overdue, introduction to life in the capital through the eyes of a range of writers” and also the powerful debut from Rania Mamoun, Thirteen Months of Sunrise (pb, £9.99, 978 1910974391) which they said was “intriguing … playful.”

The BBC have had a whole week of menopause coverage, culminating in today’s show on everything from Partners to Pelvic Floors, which featured Ruth Devlin as a guest on the sofa with Louse Minchin. She is of course the author of the brilliant Men... Let’s Talk Menopause (pb, £9.99, 978 1788600804) published by Practical Inspiration. You’ll be able to see a clip of that interview soon on the iPlayer here.  She’s also been on BBC Radio Scotland, and will be on BBC Radio Manchester’s The Dead Good Show on 24th May at 7pm and Talk Radio Europe on 30th May at 1.20pm. And there will be a big spread on the book in the brand-new magazine for 40+ women’s health called Simply You; the June issue is out at the end of May. Men... Let’s Talk Menopause has already been included in features in the Express, Daily Record and Daily Mirror 10 Questions About Menopause for Women, that’s here and Men, that’s here. You can also see a great review for the title on the website Menopause Health Matters here.  

Wow, wow, wow is my reaction to some spectacular photos from a new title just out from Amber entitled Iceland (pb, £9.99, 978 1782748717) by Chris McNab which is in their Visual Explorer Guide series. They’ve just gone up on the Mail Online and you can see them here.  They capture Iceland’s quite breathtaking landscape; including the northern lights hanging over mysterious rock formations, black sand beaches, geothermal pools, mighty volcanoes and majestic waterfalls. McNab says: “Nestled in the far, frigid north of the Atlantic Ocean, balanced on the edge of the Arctic Circle, Iceland has forged its own unique way of life in a landscape quite literally awesome in scale, beauty and power. It is an island that simply cannot fail to impress.” The simply stunning pics in the Mail (which are just a small selection of the 200 in the book) have been shared already almost 1,000 times on Facebook, this book is a great price, beautifully produced and Iceland is a booming tourist destination, so it should sell very well.

A nice review of Pluto’s Rebel Footprints (£12.99, pb, 978 0745338552) in the Observer last weekend, saying “Historian David Rosenberg brings London’s past to life in his lively second edition of 19th-century rallies and protests. Entertaining … it is  written with the kind of eye for colourful detail that you would expect from a tour guide.” You can read that here. David Rosenberg was also interviewed on BBC Radio London's Robert Elms Show and you can hear that here. 

Comma released episode four of their superb five-star podcast this week, which this month is looking at the legacy of the Suffragette movement, and in particular at the force-feeding of imprisoned suffragettes in the early 1900s under the ‘Cat and Mouse Act’. You can find that here or search for Comma Podcast on your usual platform.

Bursting with fascinating stories, striking photographs and exclusive material provided by NASA personnel; The Apollo Missions: The Incredible Story of the Race to the Moon (hb, £14.99, 978 1788885232) perfectly captures the risk, complexity and gravitas of this immense journey. Its author, former NASA engineer, Dr David Baker has lots of forthcoming events, he’s at Knuston Hall in Wellingborough, Northants for a course on Apollo on 16-19 May; he’s guest of honour for a space modellers event on 7 July at Hanslope, Bucks, he’s giving a lecture at the British Interplanetary Society, Lambeth Rd, London, on Apollo lunar landing techniques on 12 July; he’s giving a talk at the Battle History Society in East Sussex on 18 July and on 20 July  there’s a massive 50th anniversary event in Henley on Thames town square with live video streaming where Dr Baker will be on stage doing a running commentary on what the landing was like with a giant screen on the wall of the Town Hall tracking events minute-by-minute to the landing! The predicted attendance for this will be thousands! So it’s fair to say that David will be doing lots of promo and he also appears regularly on The Interplanetary Podcast which you can find here.  There’s a full-page advert appearing on page 35 of the June 2019 issue of Spaceflight Magazine which you can download here. The Apollo Missions has just been published by Artcturus.

That’s all 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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