Thursday 19 December 2019

Compass Points 331

A very Happy Christmas to all you lovely booksellers – we hope you have a prosperous and peaceful festive period and a thoroughly jolly new Year! Lots of silly merriment for you this week along with 2019’s final round-up of latest publicity and PR 

The Portico Prize Shortlist has been announced and hurrah, Glen James Brown’s Ironopolis (pb, £9.99, 978 1912681099) published by Parthian is on it! The six books explore Northern lives and landscape across fiction and non-fiction and Simon Savidge, chair of judges, commented: ‘This list defies the rumour that it’s grim up North. Yes, it can be gritty up North; yes, it can be gothic up North; but more than anything it’s glorious and great up North.’ Once described as ‘the Booker of the North’, The Portico Prize awards £10,000 to the winner, which will be announced on 23rd January. You can see the full shortlist and find out more here.

Nothing screams Christmas like burglars and booby-traps, so here are the top ten moments from Home Alone!

We are delighted to share the news with you that The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 2019 is to be awarded to Lorna Goodison, poet laureate of Jamaica. Collected Poems (9781784106386, pb, £19.99) is of course published by Carcanet. Derek Walcott said of her poetry, ‘What is the rare quality that has gone out of poetry that these marvellous poems restore? Joy’ and I think we could all do with a bit of that right now – especially at this time of year! and you can find out more on the Carcanet website here.

This letter that Iain Dale, presenter and former publisher at Biteback put onto Twitter recently, headed ‘Fan Mail’ really made me laugh!

I’m very much looking forward to another of the titles in Comma’s City Lit anthology series The Book of Newcastle (£8.99, pb, 978 1905583102) which is out in January and you can read an interview with its editor, award-winning author Angela Readman in this month's Northern Fiction Alliance column in The State of the Arts here.

We do love a seasonal silly story – and they don’t get much dafter than the news that California’s beaches have been piled high with penises! Read all about it here.

Two great pieces on First Aid for Your Child’s Mind (978 1788601177, £12.99, pb) have just been published in the Sunday Times magazine and the Christmas double issue of Women’s Weekly.

As our Account Manager Sophie pointed out, any mention of Women’s Weekly immediately brings to mind the fabulous Victoria Wood sketch – so here it is!

So pleased to see our good friend Michael Schmidt included in The Bookseller 150 last Friday, where Tom Tivnan wrote: ‘In the long-overdue department is Carcanet’s Michael Schmidt, who in 2019 celebrated 50 years as being arguably Britain’s most important poetry publisher’ You can see all 150 people on this annual list of the most influential people in UK publishing here. And we were also very pleased indeed to see the big half page article a couple of weeks ago in the Telegraph, headlined ‘Meet Michael Schmidt: the quirkiest man in publishing who reads every submission and rejected Leonard Cohen’. It went on to talk glowingly about both Michael and our friends at Carcanet saying ‘Punching above its weight for a tiny firm that employs just five full-time staff, Carcanet should be famous as one of the jewels of British publishing.’ You can find that article here. And of course, the feature was also great promotion for Fifty Fifty: Carcanet’s Jubilee in Letters (£14.99, 978 1784108786, pb) which has just been published. This is a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a small, ambitious press over a period of radical transformation in publishing. Each of Carcanet's fifty years is marked by an exchange of letters, beginning in 1969 with the response to an invitation to subscribe to Carcanet for two guineas, and the book traces the publisher’s progress with the relationship of author, editor and reader at its heart.

I loved this story about the first recorded evidence of a British child’s letter to Santa Claus, showing that the Post Office was able to “communicate” with Father Christmas in 1895 on behalf of a little girl who had asked for a box of paints.

Excited to see an article in the Bookseller last week with the news that Kogan Page will be publishing a book in April 2020 by entrepreneur and public intellectual Julia Hobsbawm on how to keep things simple in a complex world. The Simplicity Principle: Six Steps Towards Clarity in a Complex World (£14.99, hb, 978 1789663556), shows you that it's easy to streamline and simplify both your professional and personal lives with lessons based on the natural world. It challenges the assumption that all things that are complex must stay that way. You can read that article here.

Floods, flyovers and a photobombing dolphin all feature in selection of best news pictures from 2019, which you can see here.

Nice to hear on Comma author Helen Mort on BBC Woman's Hour last week, discussing the effects that weaning a child can have on a mother, as written about in her story, Weaning in The Book of Sheffield (£9.99, pb, 978 1912697137). You can listen to that here.

Plenty of ongoing promotion recently by the irrepressible and seemingly tireless Brian May for his range of 3D titles – you can find out all the details here.

Lucy Werner’s book Hype Yourself (£14.99, pb, 978 1788601238) which is coming from Practical Inspiration in January 2020, received some brilliant coverage in the latest Stylist magazine where it was included in ’11 books to help kick-start your career in 2020’ roundup, you can see that here. Stylist has a circulation of over 400,000 and is available in six cities – London, Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds and Birmingham.

OMG, OMG whose heart wasn’t beating just a little bit faster with the news that Olivia Newton John and John Travolta were back together as Sandy and Danny! You can see some pics and video from their reunion at the fabulously titled ‘Meet n Grease’ event here.

And alright then, who doesn’t want to see the original and possibly best make-over scene ever!

That’s all for 2019 folks, more in the New Year!

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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