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"Modernist Cuisine" by Myhrvold, Young & Bilet (Part 1)


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Just confirmed that I'll be bringing the MC book by Johnson & Wales tomorrow where I'm spending the morning with professor Mitch Stamm (boulak on eG Forums) and his bread class. I'll be sure to post reactions here.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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The economics of Modernist Cuisine are fascinating on many levels. It's a total outlier in terms of price, quality and quantity. I don't think anybody knew whether anybody would buy it, and now it looks like sales will be in the thousand of copies right away. It's remarkable that its Amazon sales rank is higher than 400,000, which is what I'd have anticipated. Even if you discount for a release at a slow time of year for books overall, and for the fact that you can only buy it on Amazon so 100% of sales go to supporting the Amazon stats, it's amazing that it broke top 100.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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If I recall, it is also available on Barnes & Noble's website and from Kitchen Arts and Letters, although the prices are probably different than from Amazon. I agree the stats are amazing.

Being self-publsihed, Nathan must have all types of issues. For example, do they trust the quality control of their printer in China who probably also pre-packages the volumes for shipment. They may have needed to send someone there or hire an auditor to observe the process. If it were my books of this importance, I can imagine myself going to the docks, opening the container and then trying to check each package to make certain there was no damage in transit. Also, Nathan probably is having them drop shipped at one of Amazon's warehouses, likely one near their respective headquarters in Seattle. However, Amazon may have to then ship them around the U.S. to their regional shipping warehouses for distribution to the end buyers. Finally, can you imagine the debates that went on about how many first editions should be published?

Edited by JBailey (log)

"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

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I'm just a home cook with a sous vide machine (aerospace engineer by day), I hope I didn't just spend a lot of money to get in over my head.

I think that's one of the great things about how this book is written: any cook at nearly any level can learn something from it. Especially if you're an engineer, you'll appreciate the way it's written. I think you can quite easily take from it what you want, and as you learn more, go back and mine it for even more in-depth information.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I've now shown this book to a wide range of people, from chefs to enthusiasts to the curious. Everyone gets drawn in somewhere and somehow. I know it's weird to say it, but it's just about the most approachable cookbook I can imagine, particularly given the commitment to scientific rigor and impeccable quality food.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I'm just a home cook with a sous vide machine (aerospace engineer by day), I hope I didn't just spend a lot of money to get in over my head.

Dave, if you do relate to this text, then you will have a masterful guide to learning the rigors of modernist cuisine. If you end up feeling that you are in over your head, then you own a first edition of the greatest cookbook ever. I just don't see a downside. :biggrin:

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But it's also a guide to barbecue, egg custards, stocks, cooking methods... on and on and on. True, if you want to get your hydrocolloids on, this is the book to have. But that's a pretty small fraction of the book. You want to learn how to use a wok or a pressure cooker? why mince is better than dice for stocks? a couple hundred things to do with those crazy Modernist ingredients known as "eggs"? Then this is the book for you.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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If I recall, it is also available on Barnes & Noble's website and from Kitchen Arts and Letters, although the prices are probably different than from Amazon. I agree the stats are amazing.

Being self-publsihed, Nathan must have all types of issues. For example, do they trust the quality control of their printer in China who probably also pre-packages the volumes for shipment. They may have needed to send someone there or hire an auditor to observe the process. If it were my books of this importance, I can imagine myself going to the docks, opening the container and then trying to check each package to make certain there was no damage in transit. Also, Nathan probably is having them drop shipped at one of Amazon's warehouses, likely one near their respective headquarters in Seattle. However, Amazon may have to then ship them around the U.S. to their regional shipping warehouses for distribution to the end buyers. Finally, can you imagine the debates that went on about how many first editions should be published?

Very good points. I recently got a shipment of heavy books from Amazon.ca and the box was open at one end with the books floating around inside. Amazing none of the books were missing or damaged.

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Very good points. I recently got a shipment of heavy books from Amazon.ca and the box was open at one end with the books floating around inside. Amazing none of the books were missing or damaged.

Believe me, you won't have this problem with the MC book, which appears to have been packaged at the printing plant in China to remarkable specs. Three layers of reinforced cardboard, paper wrapping, padding: this thing is packed up like a thermonuclear trigger in a Michael Bay movie.

And we have an answer: 6,000 copies.

That link goes to

http://modernistcuisine.com/2011/02/as-the-first-books-arrive-by-air-we-ponder-did-we-print-enough/

I am sure I join the entire MC team in expressing mouth-agape shock in stating, "No. You/we did not print enough."

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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In Nathan's next blog post, he explains how binding problems are creating a shortage of the book.

"The bad news is that this first ship­ment con­tains only 500 books. The next ship­ment, which should be larger, is due to arrive on March 17. After that, books are due to arrive every week or two through early May."

It is here http://modernistcuisine.com/2011/02/demand-for-modernist-cuisine-will-temporarily-outstrip-supply/

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I just looked at Nathan's blog-too bad he does not look more excited in the pics! Seriously, that is one very happy man from my viewpoint! I can't imagine that he ever thought of such a long journey when he posted his first sous vide inquiries and then all of a sudden opening a box and seeing the fruits of his labor.

Edited by JBailey (log)

"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

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So Amazon says my preorder date was July 16. Dare I hope that was early enough to grab one of the first 500?! Fingers crossed...

I'd think you would be ok, he mentioned in the blog post that people who ordered way back in August shouldn't have to wait. I had a July order but canceled and re-ordered through a different site in October to save $100. Probably cost me a few weeks :(

I'd love access to an online version if the book is delayed, even if it is just photos, but I doubt that will happen due to worries about piracy

rg

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As I read of Nathan's logic in his blog about fairness and distribution of Modernist Cuisine, it seems he may have put his mathematic degree robes back on to conquer random number theory and chaos theory giving the buyers of his book an orderly process. His approach sounds reasonable, thoughful and better than custom may have been in the publishing industry.

I feel better about this than when I got a draft number or my chances in my state's lottery!

"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

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