We are delighted to announce the next Handheld Classic, a novella and a memoir of the Blitz by the British literary figure Inez Holden, to be published together in May 2019 as Blitz Stories.
Night Shift is the short and compelling story of the lives of workers in a factory making camera parts, told over five nights of shift work. It Was Different At The Time was a project begun by Holden with her friend George Orwell, to make an honest documentary record of life during the Blitz, which he in the end did not complete.
Holden’s spare, calm writing works perfectly in fiction and in memoir. Both these stories will be available in May 2019, in the 70th anniversary year of the outbreak of the Second World War. The cover image comes from the archives of the Imperial War Museum.
After the Death of Ellen Keldberg
Booklaunch is a new quarterly literary magazine, delivered as a supplement to august periodicals such as the Church Times, the London Review of Books and so on. Its first issue came out earlier in September, and features our first modern novel, After the Death of Ellen Keldberg, which was published on 3 September.
It has a unique format of printing two fat columns of a long extract from the books that it features, with a QI code to scan to buy the book (you can also simply take the page to your bookshop, or look it up online).
We saw an interesting upward jump in sales as a result of the first circulation with the Church Times (as well as clergymen following Handheld on Twitter), and await further blips as Booklaunch appears on doormats with the other magazines.
Much excitement about Kingdoms of Elfin
Kingdoms of Elfin will be published on Hallowe’en, and will be launched at BristolCon, the regional science fiction and fantasy convention, held in Bristol on 27 October. We’ll be doing a reading of some of our favourite passages (with at least one of the Scottish ones, as Kate’s public reading voice gets very Doric when released in the open). There will also be wine, and fairy cakes, because these are undeniably tales about fairies.
Some judicious posting on Twitter about the book’s publication led to huge excitement online among the fantasy community, and a rush on review copies. Pre-orders also galloped ahead of all usual expectations.
Handheld now has a contract with Proquest, one of the leading purveyors of digital resources for libraries. We’ve begun uploading our special Proquest-friendly pdfs of our Classics and our Research titles, which will soon be available at all libraries as ebooks.
The Bath & Bristol Small Publishers’ Gathering
We’ve hardly begun the publicity for this, only sending out some emails to publishers in the south-west of England and south Wales, and we’ve sold over a quarter of the tables already.
The Gathering will be on Saturday 3 November, at the York Street Quaker Meeting House in Bath, and will have a morning of speakers and networking, with the hall open to the public from 12.00 for buying and selling.
Speakers include Bridget Shine from the Independent Publishers’ Guild, Alastair Giles of book marketing agency Agile Ideas, Lily Green of No Bindings, Bristol’s social publishing project, and Helen Chaloner of Literature Works, the Arts Council England-funded literature development agency supporting and encouraging writers in the south-west.
The event is free, and you can book on Eventbrite, to help keep an eye on numbers, and ensure that you’re kept up to date.
The 20thC Book Group
In the last two months we invented, planned and set up a book group for Bathonians and beyond who want to read older books and discover older authors. Like the Gathering, this is a Handheld Press Special Project, that diversifies our energies and makes spaces to develop the areas of publishing that sometimes books alone cannot reach.
We had our first meeting this week, and six of us talked animatedly non-stop about Desire (1908), for over an hour. Not all the biscuits were finished. We meet again on Tuesday 13 November, to tear into Rebecca West’s The Return of the Soldier (1918). (See the pattern of dates beginning to form?) If you’d like to check our reading list, and use it yourself, do so!
Our first book stall
We had our first book stall at the Bathampton Village Show on 8 September, sitting between a very popular Guess the Name of the Doll table, and a display of a painting of Bathampton’s narrow 18thC canal bridge, to be auctioned off in the autumn to help raise funds for a much-needed pedestrian crossing of the canal. Immersed in the community, we learned a great deal about what covers and titles appeal to the public, which book covers catch the most attention, for how long we should leave people to browse, and when to sidle in to clinch the sale. Kate also won Show prizes for her knitting, embroidery and marmalade (there wasn’t a lot of competition, to be fair).
Kate & David