Friday 3 April 2020

Compass Points 344

Good afternoon booksellers, I hope that everyone is keeping safe and well. This will be the last Compass Points for a while. As we know, although plenty of customers are still buying books, bookshops are closed and festivals, launch parties, readings etc are postponed, so there is not going to be much marketing and publicity news to relay to you over the next few months! I look forward to coming back some time in the summer with lots of fun events to tell you about and plenty more fabulous books for you to order! In the meantime, of course Compass IPS is still very much here for you. Questions about trade titles should go to and academic titles to   

With life seeming ever scarier and more difficult, The Simplicity Principle: Six Steps Towards Clarity in a Complex World (£14.99, hb, 978 1789663556) by Julia Hobsbawm OBE is what we need. You can hear her talking about it here on the Extraordinary Business Book Club podcast. Published this week by Kogan Page, during the pandemic that was unimaginable when it was written, this book passes the ultimate test: its principles retain their power and relevance despite the seismic shift that’s taken place in the world. Essential listening.

Dot-to-dot puzzles are the ideal popular pastime for now, giving all generations the opportunity to while away the hours uncovering the scenes, faces and creatures hidden within the dots. The range of activity books from Southwater, take dotting to the next level, each offering 40 intriguing pictures to discover. Intricate, challenging and rewarding to finish, the puzzles range from 136 to 1098 dots and will have you transfixed as you progress from dot to dot and gradually recognise what you have drawn. They are all £7.99, 96 pages, 282 x 216mm and the ISBNs are listed below.
Famous Paintings: 9781780194967
Amazing Animals: 9781780194950
Famous Landmarks: 9781780194943
Famous Faces: 9781780194936
Mystery and Magic: 9781780195131
Ancient World: 9781780195117
Under the Sea: 9781780195148
Natural World: 9781780195124
Outsized editions are also available, great for families to do together! These each have 20 floor puzzles and are £5.99, 24 pages, 400 x 344mm
Giant Join the Dots - Amazing Animals: 9781780195032
Giant Join the Dots - Famous Landmarks: 9781780195018
Giant Join the Dots - Famous Paintings: 9781780195025
Giant Join the Dots - Famous Faces: 9781780195001

The Booksellers Association is regularly updating its page of advice for booksellers during the pandemic here with coronavirus resources and they'll continue to give you help and share advice as they continue to monitor the situation.

To mark the publication of Resist (pb, £12.99, 978 1912697311) in the US and its forthcoming paperback release on 21 May in the UK from Comma, Literary Hub have published Kamila Shamsie's contributing story Savage, which you can read here.

For those looking for calming activities at home, look no further than the colouring in titles from Southwater. For young and old alike, these beautiful activity books will provide hours of peace in an increasingly stressful world. In each unique colour-by-numbers book, the 45 illustrations have been separated into segments marked with a number. Each number corresponds to one of 12 colours on a palette guide provided. Patterns from Nature (978 1780195070) and Relaxing Patterns (978 1780195063) are both £7.99, 96 pages, 282 x 216mm. There are loads more great activity titles on the Anness website at

Pieces of Me (£8.99, pb, 978 1787198036 )which was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel and Prima Magazine called ‘an astounding debut' has been shortlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award which you can read more about here. It’s published by Legend.

One of the contributors to Comma’s forthcoming Book of Shanghai (pb, £9.99, 978 1912697274), Chen Qiufan, is speaking on BBC World Service tomorrow about writing dystopic science-fiction in China amidst the corona crisis. Do tune in! The characters in this literary exploration of one of the world’s biggest cities are all on a mission. Whether it is responding to events around them, or following some impulse of their own, they are defined by their determination – a refusal to lose themselves in a city that might otherwise leave them anonymous, disconnected, alone. From the neglected mother whose side-hustle in collecting sellable waste becomes an obsession, to the schoolboy determined to end a long-standing feud between his family and another, these characters show a defiance that reminds us why Shanghai – despite its hurtling economic growth –remains an epicentre for individual creativity.

Gardners are reinstating their home delivery service, after temporarily closing last week due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The move will allow bookshops to service remote customer orders from their websites or via telephone. The wholesaler confirmed it had ‘managed to set a safe working environment for a team of staff, adhering to guidelines previously set out, and working comfortably within current government guidelines.’ Customers will be restricted to ordering one book per order, to preserve the safety guidelines surrounding minimal handling of items. Booksellers responded positively on Twitter to the news. Booka Bookshop tweeted: ‘Really appreciate the lengths you’ve gone to deliver a safe and workable solution to support the indie bookselling sector’. In response to a question about delivering to bookshops, Gardners added: ‘That will follow in due course, we are reviewing each area as we go, first and foremost our staff need a safe working environment.’ You can read more on that in the Bookseller here.

We were very pleased to see that Rebecca Elson’s A Responsibility to Awe (pb, £12.99,
 978 1784106553), was the Poem of the Week in last week’s Guardian. You can read it here. Elson was an astronomer. Her work took her to the boundary of the visible and measurable, involving research into ‘dark matter’ and as the Guardian writes, the poem ‘includes readers by its imaginative accessibility and universal theme. A Responsibility to Awe was first published in 2001, and was reissued in 2018 as a Carcanet Classic. To read Elson’s brave and gentle work during the current pandemic crisis is to take a fresh breath, and to see a little farther.’

There are quite a few organisations in the UK at the moment who are going to be looking for the key ingredients for successfully delivering large projects and Tony Llewellyn’s Big Teams is what they need! This week it reached #1 on Amazon in Hot New Releases in Project Management and there’s been some good coverage including an article for the PI Medium page 'Leading Big Teams in the 21st century’, that’s here, a three-page featured extract in the March issue of The HR Director and an article and review in Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management.

During the corona crisis some people are finding their homes have never been cleaners as millions of people stuck indoors, look for something to occupy themselves with. At the same time, millions of others are finding that their houses have never been messier, as families all squashed in together, cause chaos and disruption! Practical Tidiness: How to clear your clutter and make space for the important things in life (£12, 978 0754834878, bb) by Martha Roberts which is out from Lorenz on 30 April is just what they need. Humans need order, calm and sanctuary in a chaotic and frankly frightening world, and this inspired handbook gives practical pointers on how to start, working through your home room by room to find order in your life, with lots tips on how to tackle the physical and mental gremlins you may encounter along the way.

Titles for those who like to prep rather than panic are selling well, and Southwater have a good one! Survival: The ultimate practical guide to staying alive in extreme conditions and emergency situations in all environments, anywhere in the world (£11.99, pb, 9781780191034) is ilustrated with 1400 photographs and illustrations, including step-by-step sequences throughout, and will show you how to protect your your loved ones whatever the conditions.

Vertebrate have a great blog page entitled Ten Ways to keep Yourself Entertained if You’re Self-Isolating which you can read here. It includes lots of top recommendations to get both adult and child readers through the next few months. 

The power of the state versus the good of the nation is a topic that is going to be much in the news for the foreseeable future, so a good time to talk about Enemies of the People: How Judges Shape Society (£14.99, 978-1529204506) by Joshua Rozenberg. The Critic published an extended article written by Rozenberg on the 23rd of March discussing the book and current affairs titled ‘Supremely Impartial‘ which you can read here and the Law Gazette published an article written by Rozenberg titled ‘An Insider’s Account of the Brenda Agenda’ on the 3rd of February which you can read here. It’s out on 21 April from Bristol University Press.

And finally, like many I have been very inspired by the words of David Hockney, who urged us to remember that ‘these days will pass …. and do remember that they can’t cancel the spring.’ You can read more from him, and look at the wonderful pictures here.

In this week’s Hot Topics, here's a link to the fifty best Coronavirus memes,  here's a link to the Virtual Pub Quiz, here's a link to an exciting announcement from Andrew Lloyd Webber, here's a link to Yoga with Adriene, here's a link to PE with Joe and here's a link to the National Theatre performance of One Man, Two Guvnors!

That’s all for now folks, more when the virus allows!

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

Friday 27 March 2020

Compass Points 343

Top Ten Literary Self-Isolators
John Donne famously said that ‘no man is an island’, but let’s talk about those famous literary loners who DID want to be islands! I’ve opted not to include those who were self-isolating because they were prisoners, so that rules out Rapunzel, Bertha Mason, Andy Dufresne, Ma and Jack, etc. Here are my suggestions, do get in touch with your own literary loners – you can do that on Twitter here.

10. Badger hates Society, and invitations, and dinner, and all that sort of thing’ says Rat in Wind in the Willows, but their elusive and somewhat grumpy friend comes out of seclusion to help them on many subsequent occasions.
9. Living alone in the bell tower of Notre Dame, Quasimodo has been hidden away for his own protection. He is hated for his deformities but like many literary loners, is kind at heart.
8. Robinson Crusoe, Defoe’s castaway spends twenty-eight years on a remote tropical island, but learns ‘to look more upon the bright side of my condition, and less upon the dark side, and to consider what I enjoyed, rather than what I wanted.’
7. Gollum is ‘shrunken by the years that had carried him far beyond his time, beyond friends and kin’ and spends his time in Tolkien’s novels using a combination of self-isolation and social distancing to sneak ever closer to his ‘precious’.
6. Frederick Clegg, the terrifying, solitary Collector of John Fowles’ novel believes ‘if more people were like me, in my opinion, the world would be better.'
5. Dr Seuss’s bitter, grouchy Grinch with a heart ‘two sizes too small’ finally comes to realise that no one should be alone at Christmas, or at any other time of year.
4. The reclusive widower Tom Oakley in Goodnight Mister Tom, is required to take in an evacuee during WWII. Although emotionally distant, he is compassionate, and thanks to the effect of company, ‘he felt as if a heavy wave of sadness had suddenly been lifted from out of him.’
3. Miss Havisham, ‘an immensely rich and grim old lady who lived in a large and dismal house barricaded against robbers, and who led a life of seclusion’ has been driven to solitude by sorrow, but nonetheless manages to exert huge control over other people's lives without ever leaving the house.
2. Hermione in A Winter’s Tale. There is some debate as to whether Shakespeare’s heroine really has been sequestered for sixteen years, or whether she is magically brought back to life at the end of the play; but in all likelihood this ‘sweet'st, dear'st creature’ has been in ‘a removed house’ with Paulina bringing her food and drink.
1. Boo Radley, the heroic loner in Harper Lee’s masterpiece, ‘just stays in the house, that’s all. Wouldn’t you stay in the house if you didn’t want to come out?’ He only appears in the final chapters of the book, but his literal and symbolic invisibility dominates the novel.

The translator of Amber’s new edition of Miyamoto Musashi’s Five Rings (£19.99, hb, 978-1782749431) has written about her translation process in a fascinating blog post, which I highly recommend, that’s here. Anyone with the slightest interest in language is going to find it extremely interesting. This classic Japanese work on mastery in swordsmanship, leadership and conflict remains influential not only in the realm of martial arts but in the business world, too. Musashi's no-nonsense approach to combat includes understanding that technique should simply be understood as defeating your opponent, and appreciating that the same qualities apply in all conflicts. This new edition which has just been published by Amber, is produced using exquisite traditional Chinese bookbinding techniques and the brand-new translation by Maisy Hatchard makes it extremely readable.

Exciting to hear about The Big Book Weekend, a three-day, virtual festival that brings together the best of the British Literary festivals cancelled due to coronavirus, featuring the biggest names in books alongside unknown debut authors and rising talents. You can find out more at

First up in the Self-Isolation Songlist is Eddie Cantor here singing We’re Staying Home Tonight, my baby and me, doing the patriotic thing’, which really could have been written for the current crisis, but was actually recorded in 1943!

There’s an extract from Pluto’s new title Feminism, Interrupted: Disrupting Power in Gal-dem this week and you can read it here. Writer and organiser Lola Olufemi explains why creative thinking is crucial in the path towards a radical feminist future and how feminism has opened up her world.

For those who are doing their very best to make working at home deliver a good outcome for their employers, the idea that publishers are encouraging staff to continue taking holidays during the period of lockdown, doesn’t seem like the fairest idea.  Bonnier Books UK have asked staff to use up half of their 28-day holiday allowance by 30th June, to avoid the absence of too many staff when the lockdown due to coronavirus is over, and Hachette is only allowing staff to take pro-rated holiday (i.e. up to a quarter of their total allocated leave) in the last quarter of the year. Unsurprisingly this request has been met with some resistance by employees; you can read more on that story here.

Now is the perfect time to get stuck into a new crime series! We’d suggest that the DCI Daley series from Polygon is ideal. Bookshops could offer their customers offer a ‘DC Daley Reading Box’ as pictured, which contains all seven books. You can see the seven titles here. Fans will then be all ready for be ready for number eight, Jeremiah's Bell (£8.99, pb, 978 1846975202) which is out on 4 June 2020.

Comma’s new online book club for translated fiction was featured in Bookbrunch here and a good selection of their titles featured on the Manchester’s Finest website as part of a new initiative to support local Manchester bookshops through the crisis with a delivery service, that’s here.

My second Self-Isolation Song is I Will Survive, in a new version here by Victoria Emes, which I found absolutely hilarious.

Book sales are surging during the crisis, hurrah! Total physical book sales in the UK jumped 6% in the week to Saturday 21 March, according to Nielsen, noting a 212% growth in volume sales for ‘home learning’ titles and a 77% boost for school textbooks and study guides. Arts and crafts book sales were also up by 38% week on week and with paperback fiction sales were up by 35% last week as self-isolating readers stocked up on novels and sought solace in imaginary worlds.  Waterstones, finally shut its stores after staff complained that they felt at risk from the coronavirus, but its online sales were up by 400% week on week. You can read more on that story in the Guardian here.

With Home Learning titles enjoying such a surge, this next book from Crown is perfect! Teaching on a Shoestring: An A–Z of everyday objects to enthuse and engage children and extend learning in the early years (£16.99, pb, 978 1785833076) Russell Grigg and Helen Lewis explore the educational value of familiar objects and suggest practical activities to help develop young learners’ cross-curricular skills. Underpinned by solid theory, Teaching on a Shoestring investigates the learning potential of twenty-six inexpensive, readily available resources – from apples to ice cubes to zebra-patterned fabric – and shows how they can be exploited to develop in young learners the four skills widely regarded as essential in the twenty-first century: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.

Alexander McCall Smith is another author who has definitely seen an increase in sales recently – his heart warming and optimistic tales are just what the nation needs. He’s written a lovely poem about our troubled times, and has said ‘These are very difficult times for so many. I have written a poem especially for this moment. It comes to you with my warmest wishes, and my hope that you are keeping well.’ You can read it here.

Here's a ‘playlist’ of twelve videos from the BBC archive that may in some way resonate with you at this time. Everything from advice on binge watching, to scrabble tips, to how to spot a conspiracy theory!

We told you last week about Chris McNab’s newest Amber title, but don’t forget about How to Survive Anything Anywhere: A Handbook of Survival Skills for Every Scenario and Environment (£14.99, pb, 978 1782747000) which is the complete single-volume handbook of professional survival skills. Heavily illustrated throughout with more than 500-line artworks and diagrams, How to Survive Anything Anywhere gives the reader practical measures of survival which are easy to memorise and apply and is a vital single source of invaluable survival information for everyone who wants to be well prepared.

Two great reviews for Comma’s Palestine +100 (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974445) this week. Firstly in the Times Literary Supplement who said 'Palestine +100 gives the pleasure of a collection whose entries engage in conversation: about absence, borders and belonging' that’s here and also in Sabotage Review who called it 'a thought-provoking and inspiring book’, that’s here.

Congratulations to all the Compass winners of the Business Book Awards on Monday night. The HR & Management Book of the Year winner was Boards: A Practical Perspective by Patrick Dunne (£29.95, 978 1916256903) which provides a realistic, thought-provoking and useful guide to life as a board member. It’s published by Governance Publishing/Gazelle. The winner of Sales & Marketing Business Book of the Year was Your Business, Your Book by Ginny Carter (£14.99, 9781788601306) published by Practical Inspiration and Highly Commended as the HR & Management Book of the Year was Driving Performance Through Learning by Andy Lancaster (£19.99, 9780749497439) which is from Kogan Page.

Well done Vahni Capildeo who has been longlisted for the BOCAS Prize for Caribbean Literature for Skin Can Hold (£9.99, pb, 9781784107314). The Financial Times said ‘Capildeo has a gift for examining the lives of others’ and this title was a Telegraph Book of the Year for 2109. The poems are about Caribbean masquerade and French theatre and are based on collaborations towards productions of multimedia events, immersive experiences and performances. This is the third Carcanet collection from the Trinidadian poet whose Measures of Expatriation won the 2016 Forward Prize.

For those parents and families running out of conversation already, A Tin of Thunks (£9.99, 978 1781353431) from Crown is a good resource for to use in order to generate a stimulating debate. Since publishing The Little Book of Thunks over a decade ago, Ian Gilbert's beguilingly simple-looking questions have got us all thinking new thoughts about everyday life, love, the things around us and the world beyond. Published at the end of last year, fifty probing provocations suah as Can a robot be kind? Can you touch the wind? Is there more future than past? are presented in a brand-new format as a specially designed set of cards with a range of fun and innovative ideas as to how they can be used.  

My third and final Self-Isolation Song is the fabulous Fats, here with Ain’t Misbehavin’ ‘Don’t go out late, got no place to go, just me and my radio.’ Perfect. But I think those girls are getting just a bit too close to you!

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

Friday 20 March 2020

Compass Points 342

Today’s Compass Points has a resolutely optimistic tone! We will be bringing you the books both humorous and useful that we think could sell well in these extraordinary times, and also a miscellany of cheering music! Here is the Booksellers Association page with lots of coronavirus information for booksellers, it contains useful links with advice and business support, as well as help with mental health and wellbeing. The book trade has pulled together to launch a series of emergency measures to support authors and booksellers affected financially, and you can find out more about that here. This is from Books from Scotland: a one stop page advising on the plans of bookshops around Scotland as they react to the crisis.

For everyone who can’t get hold of handwash, Homemade Soap by Tatyana Hill (£8.00, hb, 978 0754834335) will show you how to make twenty all-natural pure and fragrant soaps to use instead! Lavender and olive oil, honey and oatmeal, cinnamon and orange are just some of the natural ingredients that can be used in this an age-old craft that makes the perfect task for self-isolation. It’s simple, rewarding and fun, and at the end you have produced something genuinely useful! Clear step-by-step instructions and photographs take you through each stage of the soap-making process. It’s published by Lorenz and you can flip through its pages here.

One activity that many will be doing as they socially distance, is going for lots of long solitary walks and the ideal publisher for that is Wild Things. Wild Running: Britain's 200 Greatest Trail Runs (pb, £16.99, 978 1910636152), Islandeering (£16.99, pb, 978 1910636176), and Scottish Bothy Walks (£16.99, pb, 978 1910636190) are all full of great suggestions for getting away from other people. And if you just want to sit on the sofa and plan adventures a little further afield from home, then Wild Things are the perfect publisher for that too, with their gorgeous guides to all those places in the world we’ll be able to go again once the virus has been vanquished. Have a look at their website here for more inspo!

Uplifting Song Number 1. Hey, we can still get drunk, and we can still haver (what even is that?) and as long as we keep our distance, we can still Walk 500 Miles!

A title that could come in very handy for many families right now is The Board Game Family (£12.99, pb, 978 1785834332), which shows board gaming can be integrated into family life and is filled with irresistible ways to engage even the trickiest of teenagers and manage social isolation with flair. Ellie Dix shares useful tips on the practicalities of getting started and how to go about cultivating the right mindset and a healthy culture of competition. It presents parents with guidance on how they can build a consensus with their children around establishing a set of house rules that ensure fair play and eloquently explains how playing board games together can strengthen relationships and ensure that spending all that extra time together will be a pleasure not a pain.

Hurrah for the wonderful Comma, who this week were announced as regional winner for the North of England for the Small Press of the Year in the Nibbies. The full announcement is in the Bookseller here. Richly deserved, 2019 has been the most successful year to date for Comma, they launched their acclaimed podcast, and published two debut collections in translation. In in other prize news, the Comma Press Podcast was highly commended in the UK Book Blog Awards by the judges, who said 'this indie, literary podcast produces above its cloud. It's only the beginning, and we are excited to hear more.' Here’s to an equally successful 2020 and congrats guys – we love you!

Uplifting Song Number 2. Come on, Ian Dury’s right, these are some cracking Reasons to be Cheerful!

The Bookseller reports today that indies across the country are closing their doors to protect staff and customers and encouraging customers to support their businesses and place orders online. But Waterstone’s boss James Daunt says the coronavirus crisis has led to ‘unprecedented demand for books’ and has called for ‘all bookshops to be kept open to meet a social need.' BA MD Meryl Halls said: ‘We want to remind consumers that they can still use their local bookshop to buy books even if they are practising social distancing. We are very keen for publishers and authors to help reinforce the message not to default to Amazon as the de facto buying option, but to link to bookshops and to reiterate the importance of shopping locally, supporting their local community.’ You can read more on that story here. A shout out to the Newham Bookshop who although closed to the public, are now running a delivery service to those who are vulnerable or self-isolating with the help of a network of cycling volunteers. Vivian Archer, who co-runs the bookshop with John Newham believes the momentum is down to ‘the community support we have, and that’s what the shop has been built on.’ You can read more on that one here.

Amber are relaunching Preparing to Survive: Being Ready For When Disaster Strikes (pb, £12.99, 978 1838860462) by Chris McNab on 26th March, which includes a big section on pandemics. It begins with the possible catastrophe scenarios such as virus outbreaks and disease, as well as environmental disasters, wars and terrorism. Chapter by chapter, the book looks at the areas you need to prepare: pre-preparing food for a crisis, finding clean water, maintaining your health, defending yourself, and creating power supplies. With tips and techniques from survival experts, this book shows you what to do in the weeks, months and years that follow disaster. With more than 300 easy-to-follow artworks and handy pull-out lists of key information, this book teaches you all the skills and offers you all the tips and information, you may need if things really go wrong.

Uplifting Song Number 3. We’re going to be Alright – yes really, we are.

If you’re missing the squash and squeeze of the daily commute in London, then you could just have a little flick through of Seats of London (£12.99, pb, 978 1916045316) to remind yourself of all those journeys you won’t be making for the foreseeable! This title has had five start reviews and is a brilliantly colourful guide to all the patterns and designs used by London Transport from the first horse bus to the latest Tube train. It’s published by Safe Haven.

Running around like a headless chicken, and panicking? Attention! The Power of Simple Decisions in a Distracted World (£12.99, pb, 978 1788601450) which is coming from Practical Inspiration in May, could be just what you need. Research shows that having more to choose from causes anxiety and decreases our likelihood of taking action. We have become paralyzed, ceding control of our decisions to a continuous onslaught of information, marketing, and interruption. We live in an age where we struggle to decide which information is real or fake and find it challenging to make even the most straightforward decisions. Rob Hatch sets out a powerful framework and flexible approach that gives you the space to focus your attention on what is important, and the ability to take action with confidence. It’s had some fab endorsements from business leaders such as Aime Miyamoto, who says ‘with Attention! Rob Hatch offers an inspiring and practical guide that can support us all.’

The Best Ever Three and Four Ingredient Cookbook (978 1780194387, £11.99, pb) by Jenny White and Joanna Farrow shows you how you can make over 400 fuss-free and fast recipes using only four ingredients or less and has over 1,550 step-by-step photographs. You can see a preview here. This terrific cookbook from Lorenz shown you how to make more with less, and could be just the thing for those who have found the supermarket shelves bare!

A poetry podcast is probably just what we all need to help us stay calm, and this is lovely: poet Caroline Bird in conversation with Suzannah V. Evans, recorded at the StAnza Poetry Festival. The Air Year is a time of flight, transition and suspension: signatures scribbled on the sky. Bird's speakers exist in a state of unrest, trapped in a liminal place between take-off and landing, undeniably lost. Love is uncontrollable, joy comes and goes at hurricane speed. They walk to the cliff edge, close their eyes and step out into the air. Caroline Bird has five previous collections published by Carcanet. Her fifth, In These Days of Prohibition, was shortlisted for the 2017 TS Eliot Prize and the Ted Hughes Award.

Uplifting Song Number 4. And I think to myself, despite everything, It’s a Wonderful World

Comma are one of the six presses taking part in the Translated Fiction Online Book Club. Hosted by Peirene Press, and in collaboration with Charco Press, Istros Books, Nordisk Books and Tilted Axis Press as well as Comma, this aims to be a welcome way to keep readers' spirits up if they're isolated, and a great way to find new fiction! Sessions are free and open to all via Zoom, every Thursday at 8pm. You can find out all about it here and see the schedule of books that will be discussed. Comma’s Thirteen Months of Sunrise (£19.99, pb, 978 1910974391) by Rania Mamoun is on April 23rd, with the session led by the translator (from its original Arabic) Elisabeth Jaquette.

A big shout out and a huge well done to the nine Regional Independent Bookshop of the Year Award Winners! The shops on the shortlist for Independent Bookshop of the Year are: Book-ish in Crickhowell , BrOOK’S in Pinner, Button & Bear in Shrewsbury, Forum Books in Corbridge, Hunting Raven Books in Frome, Lighthouse Books in Edinburgh, Philip’s in Mallow, County Cork, The Book Hive in Norwich and The Book Shop in Lee-on-the-Solent. You can read more on that story here.

In Pluto publicity news, there’s an extract of Lola Olufemi’s Feminism, Interrupted in Refinary29 here, an article by Ben Tippet, author of Split: Class Divides Uncovered entitled ‘The Cornonavirus is Exposing Britain’s Class Divisions’ in LabourList here, an article by JJ Bola for Mask Off: Masculinity Redefined in the Huffington Post here and a mention for Surviving Climate Change: The Struggle to Avert Global Catastrophe in Counterpunch here.

Hurrah for Emerald and Kogan Page who are shortlisted along with Bloomsbury Academic, Cambridge University Press, Collins and our old pals Jessica Kingsley for the Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher of the Year in the Nibbies. Good luck all – the hotly contested awards will be announced at this year’s ceremony which has been rescheduled to 29th June.

Find Your Calm (978 1789506488, £6.99, pb) and Find Your Happy (978 1789506495 £6.99, pb) are two titles from Arcturus published this month that will be ideal for helping anxious children cope with this crisis. By Dr Katie O'Connell, a child and family psychotherapist with years of experience, they are brilliant activity books for kids to colour, doodle, and puzzle their way to expressing negative feelings and learning how to deal with their worries. The fun activities build resilience, increase inner calm, improve understanding of emotions and encourage positivity. They are suitable for children aged 6+.

Uplifting Song number 5. All this self-isolation means less pollution so we can see more of Mr Blue Sky

With most of the nation’s children now to be taught at home for the foreseeable future, there should be good demand for the Legend/University of Buckingham Press study at home titles, such as the TeachitRight series, the Numerical Crosswords and the Code-It workbooks pictured here. You can find all the details on their website at

And with increased anxiety levels all round, this title which cuts through the media frenzy and over-sentimentality surrounding mental health could be just what’s required. Sweet Distress: How Our Love Affair With Feelings Has Fuelled The Current Mental Health Crisis (and what we can do about it) by Gillian Bridge (£12.99, pb, 978 1785834677) is a book of ‘loving logic’ which puts emotional well-being and resilience centre stage. It’s just been published by Crown, and Gillian has already done a great interview with Spiked magazine that you can read here. Gillian will also be interviewed on Love Sport Radio and the Sunday Times and has participated in a panel discussion on the BBC Radio Manchester Breakfast Show.

Opinion may be divided as to how our leader is coping with the practical issues thrown up by the coronavirus, but one thing’s for sure, he’s certainly enjoying the opportunity to give us plenty of speeches. Boris is the most verbose Prime Minister of recent years, as one reviewer said ‘perhaps the most beguiling wordsmith of the age, soaring to the peak of high office on wings of glittering prose.’ The Borisaurus by Simon Walters is a lexicon of the Prime Minister’s funniest, wittiest, most interesting words and phrases compiled into one brilliant dictionary, with every entry accompanied by a guide to its etymology, pronunciation, meaning and the intention of its use. The Borisaurus (£12.99, hb, 978 1785905698) will be serialised in the Daily Mail on 4th and 11th April and is published by Biteback on 9 April. As Anthony Seldon said ‘Boris sees language as Play-Doh, as raw material to be manipulated into an infinite number of novel shapes and combinations. This ingenious book takes us on a journey into the mind of our Play-Doh player-in-chief.’

Uplifting Song Number 6 We need to remember to Always Look on the Bright Side of Life!

And finally, here's a public service announcement from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Don’t panic, we can beat the apocalypse together. I’m happy to say that this two-minute film has already gone viral – in the best possible way.

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