Friday 15 November 2019

Compass Points 327

Happy Birthday to deCoubertin who are ten years old this month! Founder James Corbett says ‘I wish that I could give you an exciting anecdote about a eureka moment but the reality was more prosaic. In late 2009 I was working as an international sports correspondent, contracted to a US sports business website and freelancing for the BBC. My modest ambition, was to take creative and editorial control over my own book project – I’d had two books published at that stage – and to work with likeminded friends and colleagues, utilising our experiences from the worlds of journalism, design and digital to produce outstanding publications. The birth of deCoubertin was prosaic. With my sister, Anna, who worked with me in these early days, we laid out a statement of principles in a South London coffee shop, and argued about a name. I wanted to call it after my son – Joshua Charles Publishing but Anna argued in favour of De Coubertin – after the founder of the modern Olympics. Anna, as she often does, won the day.’ You can read the whole piece by James on the deCoubertin website here. 

As a ‘corporate suit’ (his words) and former VP of sustainability at McDonald's, Bob Langert works with companies and their strongest critics to find solutions that are good for both business and society. His book The Battle to Do Good: Inside McDonald’s Sustainability Journey (hb, £6.99, 978 1787568167) which is packed with first-hand anecdotes, and scores of lessons learned is published by Emerald. His recent Ted Talk went live at the start of November and has since had well over 750,000 views – you can see it here.

The 250th edition of PN Review (978 1784108298, £6.99, pb) has just been published by Carcanet – what a great achievement for this magazine which John Ashbery called ‘the most informative and entertaining poetry journal in the English-speaking world.’ Highlights in this special celebratory issue include Sinéad Morrissey’s StAnza lecture exploring Denise Riley’s A Part Song, Elaine Feinstein’s last poems, a compelling sequence of Inuit tales, and new poems by Sujata Bhatt, Jane Yeh, Angela Leighton, and Parwana Fayyaz, winnerof the 2019 Forward Prize for Best Poem. You can read Michael Schmidt's editorial from the magazine on the Carcanet blog here.

Alexander McCall Smith will be one of the presenters on a major new BBC series entitled The Novels That Shaped Our World which has just started on BBC2 and is part of a year-long celebration of literature at the BBC and traces the form through three themed documentaries in Saturday evenings at 9:45pm. You can read about this here on the BBC, here in the Daily Mail and there have also been articles in the Guardian and the Telegraph praising and arguing the choices. The first episode, which shows the way that women writers, women readers and women's lives have been central to the novel, is available to watch on the iPlayer here. Pianos and Flowers (£12.99, hb, 978 1846975240), Alexander’s new book has of course just been published by Polygon. In these stories, inspired by long-lost photographs, we are glimpse a world long departed. The lives of the people in the frame are imagined and then explored, layer by layer. and to celebrate its publication we’re giving away a copy to the first bookseller to email with Piano in the subject line, plus their name and bookshop address.

The Alan Turing Codebreakers Puzzle Book (pb, £9.99, 978 1788281911) has now sold over 40,000 copies for Arcturus! Published in association with The Turing Trust, this incredible collection of puzzles allows you to test your own codebreaking skills and if you can solve every puzzle in the book then that juts proves that you are sufficiently clever to have been recruited to join the ranks of the codebreakers at Bletchley Park, cracking intercepted coded messages and enabling the Allies to defeat the Nazis! It contains a breathtaking range of different types of puzzles, and is the perfect stocking filler –more stock is coming in in December, so order it now!

A very interesting interview this week with JJ Bola, author of Mask Off: Masculinity Redefined (£9.99, pb, 978 0745338743 ) on BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking here, talking together with authors Ben Lerner and Derek Owusu to Laurence Scott about how men now deal with ideas of masculinity. Mask Off is published by Pluto.

Anthony Seldon was on Good Morning Britain last week, talking to with Piers and Susanna for a good fifteen minutes about his biography May At 10 (978 1785905179, £25, hb) which has just been published by Biteback. As well as the big serialisation in the Times, there have also been pieces in the Telegraph, the Sun and the Daily Mail and Anthony has been interviewed on BBC R4’s Today programme, Radio 5’s Emma Barnett Show, BBC Radio Berkshire Breakfast Show, Sky with Adam Boulton, TalkRadio and BBC Politics Live with Andrew Neil where he was a guest for whole show. There have also been interviews in the Daily Express, Chopper's Brexit Podcast, the Sunday Times, the Observer, the Spectator and the Washington Post.

Can you spot the Big Dipper in the night sky? Or Orion's Belt? Cassiopeia? The Great Bear? In fact, a great deal can be seen if you know what you're looking for. Night Sky by Robert Harvey (hb, £19.99, 978 1782749189) presents two hundred outstanding colour photographs of stunning nocturnal vistas, all visible to the naked eye. An extract from this amazing book of astronomical wonders has just gone live on the MailOnline here, have a look, the pictures are breathtaking! It’s published by Amber.

Amanda Brown’s The Lipstick Principles (pb, £12.99, 978 1788601368) is published next week by Practical Inspiration, and there’s lots of PR surrounding the launch of this life manual which promises to free you to let go of worry and fear, live in the moment and love your life! Amanda will be on BBC Radio Manchester on 20th November between 7-8pm , there’s a launch in Manchester with local press attending the day after (the info on that is here ). Amanda is writing a guest article for Female First entitled Let go of fear, love life, and be happy and also one for Just Breathe. There will be a feature in the December issue of Soul & Spirit magazine and an article in the January issue of Living Quietly.

A wonderful review of Hanne Ørstavik's Love (£10, pb, 978 1911508724) on Radio 4's Saturday Review recently (you can listen again to it here). All the reviewers on the programme LOVED it, with Ellah Watakama Allfrey saying 'I was transported', Christopher Frayling saying the characters were 'drawn absolutely beautifully', and Kathryn Hughes calling it 'an extraordinary novel'. AND they named the translator, Martin Aitken, in very favourable terms. It’s published by And Other Stories.

Alistair Moffat, author of Britain’s DNA Journey (pb, £9.99, 978 1780276298) appeared alongside Ant and Dec last Saturday as they embarked on their own DNA journey. Ant & Dec’s DNA Journey was launched at Bafta on Saturday, to a standing ovation, and there has been absolutely loads of publicity for this two-part series, and the revelation that the winsome twosome are, in fact, distant cousins. You can see the trailer here, the first episode here and the second episode here. All terrific publicity for Britain’s DNA Journey which has just been published in paperback. Polygon are giving away a copy of this epic and revealing narrative to the first bookseller who emails with DNA in the subject line, plus their name and bookshop address.

A fab interview with Michelle Tea in the Guardian which you can read here. It takes up four pages of the Saturday Review section, and Michelle comes across brilliantly! Among other praise it comments, 'what’s striking about this and other essays is how Tea was grappling with themes fifteen or so years ago that are widely and often ferociously debated today.’ Among the many books discussed, she is talking about her new title Against Memoir (pb, 978 1911508625, £10) which is ‘a typically visceral and defiant collection of essays spanning nearly two decades of work that variously touches on art, music, alcohol addiction, her stint as a sex worker, her family life and adventures in queer culture.’ This kaleidoscope of love and adventure was published by And Other Stories this autumn.

The question of Scottish independence is back on the agenda big time in the run up to 12 December, and as always, many authors are weighing into the various issues up for debate. I like the look of The Literary Politics of Scottish Devolution: Voice, Class, Nation (pb, £24.99, 978 1474418140, pb,) by Scott Hames which has just been published by EUP. This book is about the role of writers and intellectuals in shaping constitutional change. Considering an unprecedented range of literary, political and archival materials, it explores how questions of voice, language and identity featured in debates leading to the new Scottish Parliament in 1999.

The Cold War came to an end following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but decades later traces of the places prepared for a conflict that thankfully never happened still remain. Abandoned Cold War Places by Robert Grenville (£19.99, hb, 978 1782749172) explores many of these relics, including such remarkable sites as the an immense aircraft scrapyard housing more than 4000 USAF aircraft; the vast, remote former nuclear test site in Kazakhstan, disused concrete pagodas on the east coast of England, and old Soviet fighter aircraft left for scrap in the wastes of Siberia. With 170 outstanding photographs, this is a fascinating pictorial examination of the remnants of a global superpower rivalry that defined the world for over forty years. There’s a terrific feature about the book on the CNN website which you can see here. MailOnline have also run an extract , that’s here and since it went live on Saturday, the page has had well over 100,000 views. It has just been published by Amber.  

Nayrouz Qarmout's The Sea Cloak (£9.99, pb 978 1905583782) has had some astonishing reviews, and there’s another one this week in STORGY in which they called her debut collection ‘impassioned and glorious, it is a stunning addition to the rapidly growing voice of Palestinian writers.’ You can read the whole thing here.

Lots of and lots of publicity for Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures in Hell (£60, hb, 978 1999667436).and now Halloween is over, this should carry on selling well as a Christmas gift. The fab promo video from London Stereoscopic is on YouTube here and the Guardian gave it a full page here. Brian was interviewed on Sky News here, Zoe Ball enthused about it on Radio 2 here, as did Johnnie Walker here. The Art Newspaper featured it here as did Time Out here as well as the Metro here, Amateur Photographer here and Hello Magazine here!

Stressed and unhappy at work, Celia Gaze resigned from her high-powered management role and started transforming a neglected farm into an award-winning wedding venue. She faced nearly every type of challenge an entrepreneur can face – tribunals, near bankruptcy, staff issues, system problems, but the moment that transformed her business from a struggle to a success was the moment she put a bow tie on a llama. Why Put a Bow Tie on a Llama?: How a Crazy Idea Can Change Your Life and Transform Your Business is published by Practical Inspiration in January and there’s has lots of publicity coming up, including a piece in Farm Diversity magazine, an article in Alpha Babe Society, an interview on Prosperity Kitchen Podcast, features in the Spring Wedding Ideas venue guide, County Wedding magazine, Hitched magazine, and interviews on BBC Radio 4’s On Your Farm and Farming Today.

Did you know that London is the world’s largest urban forest? More than a fifth of the capital is trees and London is so packed with foliage that it’s technically a forest (according to a United Nations definition that states that a forest is anywhere that’s at least 20% trees)! There are a massive 8.4 million trees across the capital, nearly one for each of the 8.6million Londoners. These stats are from a fascinating piece in the latest edition of Time Out which you can read here which includes a good plug for London’s Street Trees by Paul Wood (pb, £12.99, 978 0993291135), published by Safe Haven.

Ra Page's introduction to Comma’s Resist: Stories of Uprising anthology (hb, £14.99, 978 1912697076 ) (chosen by Waterstones as one of their 'Best of 2019') was published this week by Bookanista; read it here to get a great taster of what follows in the collection! Resist was also is a Stylist best fiction and feminist read for November, who said ‘these 20 essays about uprising are essential reading.' You can read that feature here. And it was also reviewed by Meteor Magazine and that’s here.

Compass are very pleased to welcome indie publisher Honford Star to the team. You can read more about this list in the Bookseller here. They are expanding their list into contemporary fiction with three new books by up and coming east Asian fiction writers in 2020 and founder and publisher Anthony Bird said: ‘Although all the books could be lumped together as of being from ‘East Asia’, in reality the voices are massively disparate and come from different socio- political and cultural perspectives. Readers who delight in new voices, new literary forms, and want to learn more about the cultural landscape from outside Europe will greatly enjoy the titles.’ There’s lots more info on their website

Jeff Goldblum has been all over the place recently, promoting his new jazz album! I’ve seen him on Radio 2 and The Graham Norton show and there have been multiple sightings in the national press. And I’m pleased to say that The Goldblum Variations: Adventures of Jeff Goldblum Across the Known (and Unknown) Universe (pb, £7.50, 978 1912489244) a collection of flash fiction, stories and games, is selling very nicely thank you for 404Ink. Just don’t forget to keep it piled high on those Christmas book tables – there are a LOT of Goldblum fans out there!

And if you need just a small reminder of his very special brand of fabulousness then here's  a track from that new album, where he’s playing with the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra.

In this week’s Hot Topics, today, it’s all about Children’s in Need! The current Children in Need format was born in 1980, and if you fancy a burst of nostalgia, have a look at this  clip from 1984!  Here are the highlights from  this year’s Rylan Clarke Neal’s 24 karaoke challenge which includes him singing It Takes Two with Ken Bruce, and here are some of this year’s most surprising fundraising ideas – from sleeping in a tree to guessing where a cow will poo next!

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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