Publishing Economics: A $625 Cookbook

cooking i i
Yolise/Flickr
cooking
Yolise/Flickr

Cooking. It seemed like such a wholesome, back-to-basics way to deal with the poor economy. Instead of splurging on meals in fancy restaurants, we could all hunker down at home, perfecting our braising techniques and rump-meat ragus.

But now, even that money-saving hobby has become a game of economic one-upmanship. I realized that when I heard about a new cookbook, "Modernist Cuisine." It costs $625 and comes out in December.

Okay, it's not just a cookbook, it's a five-volume set totalling 2,200 pages. But that's still $125 per volume. Or, as blogger Anthony Silverbrow points out, 28 cents a page. By comparison, at $35 "The Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition" costs 3 cents a page.

Given that pricetag, I'm unsure why the Amazon review highlights Modernist Cuisine's insights into "how low-cost pots and pans can perform better than expensive ones." Perhaps the publishers think sacrificing enough Le Creuset will provide the necessary funds to acquire their cooking oeuvre— or at least one or two volumes of it?

The authors include Nathan Myhrvold, former chief technology officer at Microsoft, currently beloved by foodies all over Seattle and beyond. He's a pioneer of molecular gastronomy, which makes heavy use of foams, unexpected flavor combinations, cooking under vacuum to increase flavor, and other high-tech preparations.

Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates is apparently looking forward to publication. That's $625 less for his philanthropy initiative, I guess.

Meanwhile, I'll stick to recipes I can get for free off the Internet.

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