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

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