Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Despite my Constant Worrying About Price Points, We've Just Brought in a Cookbook and It Costs More than $500--But "Modernist Cuisine" is Also a Culinary Sensation, Which Makes Me Slightly Less Panicky.
Interestingly enough, we seem to have less resistance with cookbooks. I think it's in part that they are less heavily browsed, and seem to have some sort of utility (that is, you can cook with them). For example, we've sold three copies of David Thompson's Thai Street Food without promoting it and it costs $60. That's pretty good for us.
But that's nothing! What about a book that costs $625? Can you believe that I convinced Jason to buy this?
It's Nathan Myhrvold's magnum opus, Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. I think as a buyer I don't think I could have done this. I didn't know my customers well enough, and I didn't feel like it was fair to the Schwartz finances to invest our inventory dollars this way. Most of all, I probably would have not put the book at every store, which would have left me playing favorites, a situation I hated being in.
But we're one store and I have no one to answer to but myself for making the error. Plus you've probably figured out, with my recommendations of Life, On the Line, and The Sorcerer's Apprentices, that I love this stuff. And then I read this in the Washington Post:
“The future of food is here, and it weighs 50 pounds. more than 2,400 pages, it is the answer to everything you wanted to know about cooking, not to mention so many things you never thought about. It is the second most important book on food and the science of cooking (after Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking) and the most important book ever published on what the authors call modernist cooking. Nathan Myhrvold's eagerly awaited Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking lives up to the hype, and then some.”
--Andreas Viestad, Washington Post
And then this in the New York Times. And mind you, Myrvold was unhappy with this review and wrote a rebuttal. Seemed pretty good to me!
“Modernist Cuisine is not for most home cooks. For the professional chef, modernist or not, it will be an invaluable reference. For the cooking geek with $625 to spare, it will be endless fun. As a physical object it is remarkable; sometimes I found myself simply staring at the block of books.”
--Michael Ruhlman, The New York Times
It's a risk for us, but it's also very exciting. You can read more about Modernist Cuisine on their website.