Why we believe in experts

23 November 2018 by in Book publishing, Classic Wine Library, Wine and spirits

Here at the Classic Wine Library we value expertise, which is why we recruited three highly knowledgeable wine experts to form our editorial board. Sarah Jane Evans MW, Richard Mayson and James Tidwell MS have all worked in various capacities in the wine industry. They understand it not just as writers and wine critics but also from the perspective of winemakers (Richard Mayson owned a vineyard in the Alto Alentejo for 15 years), sommeliers (James Tidwell co-founded TEXSOM, the US’s premiere professional beverage education event) and consumers (for ten years Sarah Jane Evans was Associate Editor of BBC Good Food magazine, where she encouraged the wider public to explore new tastes).

The three board members are well-known and well-connected within the wine world, and between them have an enviable collection of contacts, meaning they are able to introduce the best people writing about wine today to the series. Knowledgeable in their own particular subject areas they recognize expertise in others, even if the region under discussion is not one in which they are well versed. As published writers their input on content and structure is invaluable. If need be they are also there to offer advice and support to writers and act as a bridge between author and publisher (though it should be noted that the editorial team at Infinite Ideas is entirely approachable). All this goes to create books that are, as one reviewer recently remarked, consistently ‘well-structured, well-edited and rigorously researched’. But don’t worry that these books are dry collections of facts and figures, they are also immensely readable ‘fireside reads’ and ‘essential travelling companions’.

There are now 19 books in the series, with plenty more lined up for the future. If you’ve yet to experience the Classic Wine Library why not pick up one of them today and become just a little bit more expert yourself?


We love knowledgeable people so much that we want the next generation of wine experts to have the best information available to them, which is why we offer discounts on all our books to those studying for MW, WSET and GuildSomm qualifications. To find out more ask your course provider about member offers.

James Tidwell MS joins Classic Wine Library

21 September 2018 by in Book publishing, Classic Wine Library, Wine and spirits

James Tidwell MS has joined the editorial board of the Classic Wine Library series, published by independent Oxford publisher Infinite Ideas. Tidwell, a Master Sommelier who co-founded the TEXSOM Conference, now in its fourteenth year, is a writer, speaker, consultant and entrepreneur who is expert in the worlds of wine, tea and sake. He joins current board members Sarah Jane Evans MW and Richard Mayson in working on the growing series.

Based in the USA, Tidwell will have a particular role in expanding the North American wine regions covered by the series and in increasing awareness of the Classic Wine Library among his countrymen. Joining the board James said, “This is my most treasured series, from the original Faber & Faber books to Infinite Ideas. I am thrilled to see the continuation and revitalization of the series, and am happy to be included.” The nineteenth title in the series, Anthony Rose’s Sake and the wines of Japan is published this October, along with the fourth edition of Richard Mayson’s own bestseller, Port and the Douro. Sarah Jane Evans MW was excited to be working with Tidwell, saying, “James’ knowledge is international and he brings status in the US wine community, knowledge of the current world of wine, and specifically of North American authors and the market.”

For further information on The Classic Wine Library please contact the Publisher, Richard Burton: richard@infideas.com; +44 (0)7802 443957

About James Tidwell
James Tidwell, Master Sommelier, is a writer, speaker, consultant and entrepreneur. After passing the Master Sommelier examination in 2009, he earned his Diploma from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET); Certified Wine Educator (CWE) from the Society of Wine Educators; Certified Tea Specialist from the Specialty Tea Institute, and Certified Sake Professional from the Sake Education Council. Tidwell holds a baccalaureate degree in International Trade and Finance from Louisiana State University, and earned Honours upon graduating from the Culinary Institute of America.

Tidwell co-founded the TEXSOM Conference with fellow Master Sommelier Drew Hendricks. Now in its fourteenth year, TEXSOM is the premier professional beverage education conference in the United States and among the most influential in the world. He is also Co-Owner and Producer of the TEXSOM International Wine Awards, one of America’s largest and most respected wine competitions. His writing has appeared in World of Fine Wine, Lonely Planet, Celebrated Living and The Dallas Morning News.

His industry leadership has included service on Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards for the Court of Master Sommeliers – Americas, GuildSomm, the Society of Wine Educators, the Specialty Tea Institute and the Wine and Food Foundation of Texas. He is consulting Master Sommelier with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Las Colinas, Texas, which earned a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence and five nominations for a James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Beverage Program under his direction.

Côte d’Or: the world’s greatest wine region

8 September 2017 by in Book publishing, Classic Wine Library, Lifestyle, Wine and spirits

By Raymond Blake, author of Côte d’Or: The wines and winemakers of the heart of burgundy

Glancing behind me as I write this, at shelves loaded with wine books, I can count perhaps a dozen Classic Wine Library titles, from the black-spined Faber & Faber editions, through the less soberly jacketed Mitchell Beazley versions to the elegantly presented and up-to-date publications from Infinite Ideas. I am not sure when I bought my first one, or which it was, probably Julian Jeffs’ Sherry or Anthony Hanson’s Côte d’Or, but I am certain that without the Classic Wine Library my journey of discovery through the world of wine, from keen consumer to Wine Editor of Ireland’s Food & Wine Magazine, would have been more challenging and certainly less enjoyable. The library has been a go-to reference point for longer than I can remember.

I always regarded the Classic Wine Library like a club – not exclusive but inclusive – led by authoritative and informative writers whose knowledge and enthusiasm for their subject shone through on every page. Thus it was with great excitement that I joined the club over a year ago, commissioned to write about the wine region closest to my heart – Burgundy’s Côte d’Or. The excitement was not so great as to blind me to the challenge ahead – the labyrinthine complexity of its nomenclature alone intimidates the neophyte – but I could also call on one asset beyond value. A little over 10 years ago my wife and I were fortunate to buy a house in the Côte d’Or and since then we have visited the region dozens of times. Thus I was able to explore at leisure, chasing up the back roads, discovering unexpected delights, as well as more formally, packing in scores of visits to winemakers, from the biggest négociants to the smallest domaines.

I never – ever – tire of the Côte d’Or and I believe it is now at one of the most exciting periods in its history. That history has seen it stamped by innumerable forces, two of which – the French Revolution and the scourge of phylloxera – are largely responsible for its shape today. And perhaps now, as the memory of their trauma fades, the côte is slipping into the grip of another pair: climate change and the extraordinary surge in the prices paid for mere scraps of prestigious vineyard land. How these will shape the côte in the decades to come is still a matter for speculation, but they make every visit challenging and rewarding in equal measure.

Notwithstanding the undeniable influence of these forces, at a micro level the Côte d’Or is probably producing more high quality wine today than at any point in its history and hence it rewards repeated exploration. There is always something new to be seen, to discover, change is ever present – and this in a region that appears unchanging to the casual observer. In Côte d’Or: The wines and winemakers of the heart of Burgundy, I hope I have managed to present an early twenty-first century snapshot of an era that future historians may well come to label as a golden age – for what I consider to be the world’s greatest wine region.


Côte d’Or is published on 8 September 2017, priced £30, available from your favourite book shop. Or click here to buy your copy today.

The Classic Wine Library – picture this

14 June 2017 by in Book publishing, Classic Wine Library, Lifestyle, Wine and spirits

One of my favourite tasks as editor of the Classic Wine Library is choosing the photos that grace the covers of the books. A great cover is essential in creating the right first impression. Reading the books makes me (and I assume others) want to sample the wines and visit the places talked about, but readers first need to be enticed into picking up the book. A beautiful and interesting cover picture can make all the difference. Picture research can sometimes be quite wearisome, particularly if you are desperately trying to depict some abstract concept in an original way. But the Classic Wine Library, with its series focus on inspiring photos of the landscapes behind the wines under discussion, is different.

It is important to have a reliable and expert supplier when purchasing such photographs. Without having visited many of the places myself how can I be sure that the photo I’m looking at is really of Roussanne vines in southern France and not Chardonnay grapes growing in South Africa? So over the last few years we’ve made this task a lot easier by working with a specialist wine photographic agency, which features a huge selection of wine-related photos from all over the world and is run by Mick Rock, a very knowledgeable and helpful, not to mention world-renowned, photographer.

But there’s more to cover design than finding a beautiful image. The title font used by our designer is called Trajan and was designed by typographer Carol Twombly. Although the font itself is less than thirty years old it is based on the inscription found on Trajan’s column, built by that Roman Emperor around the first century AD. Unlike the column’s inscription the information in these books is not carved in stone, as the world of wine is in a constant process of evolution. However we think that this elegant font, which is only available in capital letters, lends our books a certain authority and timelessness.

Over the last month we have signed up new books on the wines of New Zealand (Rebecca Gibb), Sake and other Japanese wines (Anthony Rose) and the wines of Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova (Caroline Gilby), and I am looking forward to taking virtual journeys through those countries very shortly. So watch this space for new covers. We hope you like them and find the photography as inspirational as we do.


Titles being added to the library this year include The wines of Canada, Côte-d’Or, Rosé, The wines of northern Spain, Amarone and the fine wines of Verona and The wines of Greece. You can find out more here and order published books at 20% discount here.

The pros and cons of self-publishing your business book

10 March 2016 by in Book publishing, Business and finance, Publishing for business

Why go through all the hassle of finding a commercial publisher for your breakthrough book on strategic thinking when it’s so easy to self-publish? After all, you’ve done all the hard work just writing it haven’t you? Why would you give it to a publisher who will pay you a measly 10% royalty when you can have complete control and all the revenue by merely entrusting your manuscript to one of the many self-publishing services available? Surely a no-brainer.

The number of self-publishing businesses has risen dramatically in the past few years, mainly due to affordable POD – that’s ‘print on demand’, the ability to print single copies of a book, to order – technology. Self-publishing involves uploading a manuscript onto the website of a business such as Lulu, choosing a cover and interior designs from a selection of templates, or using your own, then through POD technology printing as few or as many copies as you require. As the author you’ll pay the self-publishing company to upload your book and then they will probably take a slice of revenue from any further copies sold.

Working through a self-publishing company can be a good, cost-effective solution to getting into print. But the self-publishing process stops there. At print. You’ve got as many copies of your book as you ordered and unless you have set it all up in advance you have no distribution, no marketing, no links with wholesalers to supply customer orders. In short, no sales. Setting up the infrastructure that ensures your customers can be supplied with your book involves a great deal of work, and that’s before you begin the marketing effort. But an established publisher will naturally have all this set up.

Self-publishing business booksA commercial publisher will also market your book. Sure, they will be marketing it to the book trade, to the media and to foreign language publishers and to their own lists of customers, and they will rely on you to promote it in your own networks, but the chances are that most of the sales will come from their promotion rather than yours. There isn’t much chance of you knowing how to do all that global trade marketing, even if you had the time and energy.

Something else that tells against self-publishing is production quality. When you entrust your manuscript to a self-publishing service you may well find that your options in terms of controlling the way the book looks are limited. Not all self-publishing services are the same but the more cost effective the service the more likely it is that the website you use will chuck a terrible book back at you. A huge amount of work goes into turning a manuscript into a bookstore quality product. Commercial publishers employ copy editors, proof-readers, typesetters, text designers, cover designers, indexers and, of course, printers. Needless to say you won’t get all that for the £1000 you transfer to your anonymous self-publisher.

And you need to think about whether your brand is big enough in your network to overcome the resistance many people still have to self-published books. After all, you’ve paid to have it published (well, printed anyway) and anyone could do that provided they are willing to spend a few hundred pounds. How do people know it’s any good? They will trust a commercially published product far more than a self-published one because an editor has read it and decided it is good enough for her to invest a considerable amount of money in.

So think about it carefully. In summary:

Self-publishing gives you complete control over the packaging, pricing, design, marketing and distribution of your book. It allows you to keep the lion’s share of the income. You can produce it to your own schedule, as quickly as you like. You don’t have the depressing task of trying to find a publisher who will take the commercial risk on your book.

On the other hand you are probably not an expert at book packaging, pricing, design, marketing and distribution, so you are less likely to make a great fist of it than an experienced publisher. You are almost certainly going to end up with an inferior physical product compared with competing titles produced to book shop standards. And if you’re planning to use your book to promote your brand a self-published product won’t have the same cachet as a book that’s been published by Penguin.

In short, if you’re a well-known expert on rail travel in and around Nuneaton in the nineteenth century and you are already on first name terms with everyone in the world who is likely to buy your book self-publishing your book is the obvious route to take. Otherwise, think carefully about the options.

The best business card you’ll ever have is about 200 pages long

12 February 2016 by in Book publishing, Business and finance, Publishing for business

This week’s prestigious Chartered Management Institute Management Book of the Year award has underlined, once again, the value of ideas to business. The winner, Frugal Innovation: How to do more with less by Navi Radjou and Jaideep Prabhu, demonstrates how businesses can grow quickly on limited resources. Management makes things happen. Anyone who doubts this should consider Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove’s short article in Harvard Business Review. Crainer, co-founder of Thinkers50, the world’s most prestigious management guru ranking, points out that the ‘best business books are acted upon, they change the way leaders lead and how managers manage. This is not an idle ambition. The most impressive and successful leaders tend to be voracious readers. They want to know about the latest research and ideas. This is especially true in emerging markets. CEOs like Zhang Ruimin at Haier have used business books as an education in business best practice. There is nothing so practical as a great idea.’

published books make great business cardsAnd, something that is frequently overlooked, there’s nothing so rewarding as being the originator of a great idea. The world’s most sought-after cross-cultural management expert, Fons Trompenaars, has claimed that since publishing influential books like Riding the Whirlwind, The Global M&A Tango and 100+ Management Models his speaking engagements and fees have doubled, his profile tripled and his clients quadrupled. ‘I highly recommend you to get your ideas on paper, particularly if they are unique,’ he says. Trompenaars is quite right to say that if you’ve got interesting ideas you need to record them, but you also need to distribute them, and there is simply no better way to do it than in a book. Why? Because people don’t throw books away. Getting a publisher to commit to your book idea isn’t easy (unless you’re already a well-known author), but self-publishing gives you a product that has far less impact. As, Barry Gibbons, former global CEO of Burger King and author of six books in including If You Want to Make God Really Laugh Show Him Your Business Plan, says, ‘A published book (accent on ‘published’) can bring a string of powerful indirect benefits. It can boost a CV. It can take the place of a business card, with 1000 times the impact. It can open up lucrative speaking or consulting opportunities. It can enhance an author’s reputation in a defined target market.’ Gibbons is a prolific and entertaining speaker who addresses huge conferences from Las Vegas to Bangkok, and there’s no doubt that his books have helped him get to where he is. In fact if you want to be on the speaking circuit and you haven’t got a book published you have a huge hurdle to overcome. Brendan Barns, formerly CEO of Speakers for Business and founder of London Business Forum, insists that having a business book published can give instant credibility to an author, especially if it’s in partnership with a major publisher. ‘This can,’ he says ‘open the door to a lucrative speaking career, especially if the author has some charisma.’

A published book can also have some more subtle effects on the authors profile. Ken Langdon is the author of 20 practical business books (and ghost-writer of several more) and he points out that it massively enhances your search engine profile. A Google search on many business managers wouldn’t throw up much apart from a LinkedIn page which is, of course, their own writing. Google an author, however, and you get their Amazon page along with the publisher’s potted history of the author. (The author may also have written this but it doesn’t look like that.) If you want to see the effect for yourself just type ‘Ken Langdon’ into Google.