Of course, as publishers, we would tell you that. So it is our job, as publishers and promoters of books to prove to you that we are right. Obviously.
Firstly, a book is just about the easiest gift to wrap. Yes, it’s great getting a bike or a bottle of wine for Christmas, but good luck wrapping it. Too much paper and sellotape and the need for four hands means a happy Christmas is suddenly in doubt. You may end up consuming the wine out of frustration.
A book enjoyed can be passed on to your friends and family with excited expression of joy about all the wisdom/happiness/laughter that you have gained from reading it. A book not enjoyed can be passed on to your enemies in order to trick them into having a really terrible time. Of course, you can give your ereader to your loved ones but you might not get it back as they may think you are challenging them to read all the books you’ve downloaded.
A book is a really handy tool around the house. Its screen does not crack when used to prop up a table as an iPad’s might and it provides an excellent coaster for the contents of that badly-wrapped bottle of wine I gave you.
Books also make your house really colourful and inviting. Nobody wants to visit a sterile home; books add vibrancy, they make you look interesting, they start conversations with your guests. Anthony Powell even called one of his books Books Do Furnish A Room.
Game-lovers can buy multiple books and stack them, play Jenga, make houses or build forts. The possibilities are endless once you visualize your books as bricks rather than reading material. That is, of course, if you are lacking in building materials.
If you’re in the mood for love this winter, a book can make you look very clever and sexy, particularly on public transport. No texting for you, oh no, engaging the mind is the purpose of your journey. There are those, of course, who choose to take their ereaders on buses and the tube but most people just assume that they’re reading 50 Shades of Grey or worse, the Daily Mail and shun them to the limits of society.
If someone thinks you look sexy and intelligent while reading, they may strike up a conversation about mutual interests and next thing you know, you’re walking down the aisle. Knowledge is romantic and guaranteed to help you find love.*
Finally, books save lives.
Save a life. Give someone a book this Christmas.**
* This has not been proven by experts
** Infinite Ideas also sell ebooks. We like it when people buy those too.
*** Ryan Gosling would no doubt be difficult to wrap up, but we’re willing to give it a go. In an exception to the rule he most likely would be more gratefully accepted than any book.
Twenty years ago, an unknown girl band released their first single, Wannabe, and posed on the stairs of the St Pancras Hotel to promote ‘Girl Power’. Much has changed in two decades but one thing is certain, Victoria Beckham has made the incredible transformation from Posh Spice to head of the Posh London crowd and, in turn, Britain’s most successful entrepreneur, so listen up Apprentice contestants!
Last month, Beckham, also known as VB, opened her first flagship store in London. She has generated substantial profits for her company, and was recently named as the Greatest Style Icon at this year’s London Fashion Week.
It is the ultimate reinvention. When one thinks of how many members of pop groups have tried to make it in Hollywood, floundered on Celebrity Big Brother, or tried their hand at ‘writing’ novels, VB seems to be the most successful of all of them. No longer do we look at her and think of the Spice Girls; here is a woman who has taken the fashion world (and in turn the business world) by storm.
She is now a UN Goodwill ambassador and addressed the organization last month, which meant that she missed the opening of her London store. She is everywhere, it would seem, with her fingers in a lot of pies. But then again, it’s all for a good cause. Never did we think that the woman in the little Gucci dress would become one of the world’s most powerful women.
It has been well knownfor years that Brand Beckham has been successful, as she and David brough out his and hers perfumes while also pursuing profitable modelling careers. They are the idealistic couple but no longer do they have to sell their stories to OK! magazine. They have reached new levels of success and in turn, respectability.
Whatever you think of VB (and at Infinite Ideas we love her) you have to admit that the woman is talented. Yes, it takes a lot of money to be successful, it takes a well known brand to make it in the world of fashion, but she’s also done it with lots of hard work and dedication to her line.
VB is Catherine’s personal hero, and now we can see why. Perhaps in another ten years she will be Prime Minister.
If you want to manage your own company like VB, the best place to start is probably with a book on management models. Perhaps you will be on next year’s list … otherwise we would advise marrying someone rich and building your own empire!
Yesterday Catherine purchased the latest edition of Hello! magazine and this morning we were impressed by the wedding of George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin, and were particularly taken by the Oscar de la Renta dress, celebrity guests and perfect setting.
We have learnt many things from George and Amal’s wedding: tuxes never go out of style, everyone looks good in a boat, and restrained beading can work wonders. Luckily for all you lay people wishing to have a similarly memorable day, Infinite Ideas has a book, Perfect Weddings, which is filled with helpful tips on how to make it the best day of your life. One thing you have to get right is the location. So if you can’t afford to have it in the Aman Canal Grande hotel how do you decide upon your venue?
What will suit the kind of ceremony and reception you want? Your location should be a reflection of your overall theme. If it’s formal, your local grand hotel may be a suitable location (and should be licensed for civil weddings), with plenty of space for ceremony and guests. But make sure you have free rein to make your own choices – they sometimes insist on using their own favoured caterer. And check there’s enough parking space.
If you plan to hold a church wedding, you may need to book up to two years in advance for the date that you want. If you want something a little more unusual, such as a ceremony with your own vows in a ruined castle, try a quiet registry office and a second ceremony; that way you are free to make all your own style choices. Make sure you have a dry run well in advance of the big day. You must make sure that you know which door the band will use, and that they also know which one it is, unless you want everyone moving tables to allow equipment to be lugged through your reception meal. Will the fire regulations allow for the hundreds of tea lights you have planned to dot all around your tables? Is there room for you to greet your guests? Can they make sure that there is a safe place for the wedding gifts to be left, or can they be locked away and collected the following day by your parents if you are going on honeymoon straight from the reception?
For George and Amal, the theme was undoubtedly Hollywood glamour and it definitely delivered. Their location was old school Hollywood at its best, full of pomp and ceremony, completely over the top but managing to stay on the right side of ridiculous. We would have loved to have gone, but we’re guessing that the venue capacity was just too small.
As for the problem of transport, there’s no need to worry when it comes to Venice, just make sure that your guests are put into a water taxi and haven’t fallen over the side and it’s all taken care of. Venice is a great city to hold a wedding in as there’s no issue of having to delegate the designated driver. Everyone is free to get as drunk as they like so long as they watch out for the canal.
Venue: check. Transport: check. Designer dress: we’re pretty sure Oxfam has a stock of used designer wedding dresses that you can rifle through and hopefully pick up a bargain.
Today fashionistas in London are gathering to watch the models of London Fashion Week strut their stuff. With the exciting line-up of designers at this year’s event offering a variety of fashions from ready to wear all the way up to haute couture there are bound to be some new looks that strike fear into our hearts (‘What – with my thighs?’ …). So how can you look gorgeous and fashionable? Linda Bird and Cherry Maslan’s book, Catwalk looks offers some simple suggestions on how to look your best at all times – we can’t all look like supermodels Lara Stone and Cara Delevingne, but here are some tips that can at least help you feel like a supermodel.
The key to looking great is lots and lots of sleep, eating well, working out daily, good skin care etc. We all know this, but surely there must be an easier way. The problem is that you haven’t quite found the time for all that healthy living stuff but what you do have is a date/party/wedding and just a few hours to get ready and you just have to shine.
First impressions do count, so make sure that you have all your necessary maintenance done for your special night out. It’s not just the look itself, it’s the fact that the psychological boost will leave you with a glow that shows. For a small investment that goes a long way, a manicure is a must.
For a short-term skin solution you can’t beat a facial. If you can afford the time and the money for a salon-based treat then do so – the more you spend, the better you’ll feel. However, if you can’t, there’s plenty you can do at home. Forget cucumber slices on the eyes – it’ll make you feel too much like a distressed divorcee and not enough like a sex kitten. Instead have a hot bath before you go out to plump out your complexion with all that steam and to get the circulation going so that you appear rosy and, therefore, healthy.
For an energy boost try supergreens. These are ground up superfoods – health-promoting vegetables, algae and sprouted grasses – which give a shot of optimum nutrition in one glass. Upside: you’ll swear you can actually notice the difference in energy levels and well-being. Downside: they tend to taste disgusting. So mix these energy-enhancing powders with a little juice and down the hatch.
Some people also recommend performing a couple of press-ups to flush the blood through your system and bring a healthy glow to your skin. (Not so many that you arrive out of breath and beetroot faced.) Before you make your entrance, try spritzing (not dousing) your face with a water spray, which helps cool you down and also freshens up your make-up – so carry your own supply with you at all times.
The legend of the American Dream can be traced back as early as the first Europeans to settle the continent, recounting how they stepped off the Mayflower and started a new life in the Brave New World. The American Dream is what drove Europeans to board ships and make the perilous journey across the Atlantic in search of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Since the advent of the twentieth century, however, the American Dream has tended to represent the pursuit of wealth and capital, as portrayed in such classics as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. America, more than any other country represents capitalism through its large corporations, and companies aiming to stake their claim in the market.
The American Dream in the twenty-first century is promoted as something achievable by all, as TV shows, advertising and reams of self-help articles urge Americans forward, with the promise of wealth, success and happiness if only they strive hard enough. In the TV series Breaking Bad, Walter White’s small but successful business grew into an empire, spiralling dangerously out of control. In the beginning, Walt had clear financial goals: to pay his medical bills and ensure his family’s financial stability after his death. However, with his stock growing at an exponential rate, Walt’s greed and desire for more cost him dearly.
It’s all very well to have millions in the bank and a yacht to holiday on but the danger of this is that one loses touch with reality. The advantage of a small business is that it’s easier to stay true to the ethos of what made the company successful and maintain excellent customer relations – key to the longevity of a business. In an age where word-of-mouth is as good a recommendation as any, and reputations can be destroyed with a tweet, it is essential that small businesses maintain their integrity.
Take, for example, Amazon, a ‘Fat Cat’ company that creates trouble for even moderately sized companies, such as Hachette. With the companies reaching a stalemate, their disagreement has had a knock-on effect on customers, who are now unable to buy books by the publisher on Amazon’s site. There are parallels between Amazon’s relatively swift rise from small bookseller to world-beating supplier of everything, and the success of Walt and Jesse’s meth business. First the Breaking Bad entrepreneurs made other dealers and suppliers redundant by supplying a better product and better service – Amazon built its business on great service and the best prices. Moving into bigger premises with an effective distribution model brought Walt and Jesse wealth but also enemies; once Walt and Jesse were ‘on the map’, they were hunted, not just by the police, but by rival dealers, desperate for blood. Amazon is still loved by customers, but from the other end of the supply chain there are many who despise its approach to business and would be glad to see the company brought low. Whether their dreams come true remains to be seen but if you do find yourself at the helm of a successful business you’d be wise to remember that reputation is all-important.
Essentially, Walt is a product of his environment. In a country reliant for its survival on commerce and the pursuit of wealth, Walt was faced with thousands of dollars worth of debt due to a low income and expensive health care; he would not have been in such a predicament had he lived in Canada or the UK. Thus his entrepreneurial spirit was ignited and he had no choice but to make quick and easy money. Nevertheless, as many small businesses have found out, quick money is not necessarily the key to a flourishing business and in that cut-throat, boom or bust world, burning out is a real risk. Though Amazon is a leader in the field of selling anything, offering a virtual department store at you fingertips, there is a growing backlash against the company with some consumers going out of their way to buy their products from somewhere else. Whatever the American Dream means to you, make sure you business is not compromised.
The late Steve Jobs was quoted as saying, ‘Do not try to do everything. Do one thing well’. In Breaking Bad, Walter White said, ‘you asked me if I was in the meth business or the money business. Neither. I’m in the empire business’. There are many businesses that have achieved success even though they only offer one product: think of Coca Cola, for example. By dedicating one’s effort into the quality of a particular product or service rather than spreading yourself too thin, your business is more likely to thrive.
Walter White and Jesse Pinkman did just that. Their product was superior ‘blue’ crystal meth and it was due to hard work, creativity and commitment (and the odd well-placed explosive) that their business thrived when others around them folded. Here are the three key factors that worked for them:
- Branding: Walt and Jesse’s blue meth became legendary. Customers could easily identify the product alongside similar ones and associate the colour with the high quality. The colour helped improve brand awareness. Distinguish your business from others around you. What can you do that others can’t?
- Demand: there was an obvious demand for meth in Albuquerque, New Mexico. With its close proximity to the Mexican border, it was clear that there was a market for what Walt and Jesse were selling. Jesse, a meth user at the beginning of the series, is able to identify that Walt’s product is better than the competition. The two were fortunate enough to manufacture an addictive drug, one that keeps customers demanding more and therefore gives the market a better chance of growing. Identify a need or a weakness in your target market and there will always be people willing to buy your product. You too can help your business thrive by responding to demand. Offer excellent customer service (Walt and Jesse let their distributors keep a cut of their money and offered free ‘tasters’ to increase their customer-base) and your clients will remember that.
- Quality: Walt’s blue meth was famously 96% pure, better than all its competitors. Knowing that your product is better than that of the competition already gives your business a head start. However, to meet growing demand, Walt and Jesse soon realised that their small business was growing at an exponential rate. Not wishing to compromise on quality, it was imperative that they move their business to bigger premises (and fatefully team up with Gus Fring). A susprisingly large number of businesses fail by becoming too successful too fast. Be wary of your business growing too quickly; make sure you’re logistically prepared, adequately staffed and can cover the costs that a rise in demand brings.
Walt and Jesse’s small cooks in the camper van grew into an empire and at times they were not prepared to meet the demand. However, being business-savvy and exploiting their contacts and the market demands, they were able to flourish. Remember though, even the most powerful can fall. One could say that Walt and Jesse became too ambitious and greedy, letting their ’empire’ unravel in front of them. It was their small business that was the most successful, not the empire.