Get To Know The New James Beard Hall Of Famer

The James Beard 2015 Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards have just been awarded, and the Cookbook Hall of Fame award went to Barbara Kafka. If her name isn’t familiar to you, you’re not alone. Many cooks have never heard of her.

Kafka is a cookbook author, journalist and teacher. She has taught with James Beard, consulted for many fine restaurants, written for The New York Times, and contributed to Gourmet magazine with her regular column “The Opinionated Palate.” And that’s just a sampling of her professional accomplishments.

Her award, however, was not for teaching or restaurant consulting or columns. It was for her cookbooks, which according to the James Beard Foundation website are “a series of remarkable books.” In each she starts from scratch, coming up with interesting questions and then figuring out answers, never working from received wisdom. The result is a body of work that, book by book, has transformed the culinary landscape.

Kafka’s first best-seller was the 1987 “Microwave Gourmet.” She was the first major food writer to dedicate a cookbook to microwave cooking. The book is not just a recipe book. It also includes a dictionary of foods and techniques that explains how different foods react in the microwave. Kafka introduced a high-temperature roasting technique in the 1995 “Roasting: A Simple Art” that “completely changed the way we think about that subject,” according to Naomi Duguid who wrote the biography for Kafka on the James Beard site. Other books include 1992’s “Party Food,” 1998’s “Soup, A Way of Life,” and 2005’s “Vegetable Love.” Kafka published her latest cookbook, “The Intolerant Gourmet” in 2011 with recipes for those with food intolerances including gluten.

Listen to The Book Report at your convenience. Go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-report/id540205917?mt=2, or at bookreportradio.com, click on Archived Shows

Advertisements

Book Collecting As Popular As Ever

BOOK COLLECTING AS POPULAR AS EVER

Book collecting appears to be alive and well, sustained in part by the very same people who are driving adoption of smartphones, tablets, and e-readers.

Dealers such as Strand Bookstore near New York’s Union Square and Freebird Books on the Brooklyn waterfront are counting on passionate collectors, as the rise of digital media and higher commercial real-estate prices decimate other corners of the bookselling business.

Strand, an 88-year-old purveyor of new and used books, says business has been good lately, helped in part by the popularity of its rare-book room, where a signed first edition of “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle can be had for $5,000 and where a book edited and signed by Jackie Kennedy recently sold for $900.

Last year “was one of the strongest years in Strand history,” says Strand marketing manager Brianne Sperber, 25, who insists it’s “wrong” to think people in their 20s and 30s don’t want to switch back and forth between digital and print. “I know a lot of people my age who read the way I do,” she says.

Sperber says demand for rare and collectible books has been more or less stable over the past few years, an assessment echoed by Freebird owner Peter Miller, whose specialty is books about New York, and Thomas A. Goldwasser, a veteran rare-book dealer in San Francisco.

“I don’t think demand for rare books has diminished as a result of digital platforms,” says Mr. Goldwasser, 62, whose office houses more than 4,000 rare volumes. At the same time, Mr. Goldwasser says he hasn’t noticed prices appreciating greatly over the past 10 years or so, either.

Annette Campbell-White, the founder of a California venture-capital firm says collectors should be driven by their interest in books, not by the prospect of financial gain. “I wouldn’t encourage anyone looking for a quick profit to turn to book collecting,” she says. “If you make money, it is incidental.” Campbell-White says she got hooked on book collecting in 1973 when she was 25 and over the years amassed collections of poetry from the World War I era, as well as copies of books included in literary critic Cyril Connelly’s “The Modern Movement, 100 Key Books from England, France and America, 1880-1950.” She sold two-thirds of her Modern Movement collection in a private auction at Sotheby’s in 2007. “Yes, I made money, about a 40% profit over 30 years,” she says. “Not a good investment.”

Darren Sutherland, manager of the rare-book room at Strand, advises collectors to “always buy the best combination of condition and edition that you can afford, and buy what you love, not because you have a suspicion it might go up in value.” First editions can command higher prices, as can books with unusual inscriptions by the author. Original manuscripts are often valuable, too.

Like everything else, he says, book values are “driven by supply, which is largely stationary, and demand. So on a smaller scale, some prices can be affected in the short term by cultural events, the death of an author, a new biography or film. But in the longer term, the demand will be set by larger forces, a long-standing cultural reassessment of an author’s work and their effect on our history, or a cultural shift in terms of what we consider to be important.”

Dealers note that a book doesn’t have to be old to be collectible. Honey & Wax Booksellers, an online dealer founded by Strand veteran Heather O’Donnell, offers a 1990 edition of Maira Kalman’s “Max Makes A Million” for $125. The popularity of the author and the book, as well as the quality of the art and production, can drive the value of newer works. Says Mr. Goldwasser: “Many younger collectors are drawn to books for their decorative or atmospheric quality.” Illustrated books and graphic novels are popular today, he says, while demand for photography books has leveled off.

Prices for collectible books can fall, too—sometimes significantly. The first editions of books by some late 20th century authors went through a bubble in the late 1990s, only to fall some 50% from their peak a few years later, Mr. Goldwasser says.

Listen to The Book Report at your convenience. Go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-report/id540205917?mt=2, or at bookreportradio.com, click on Archived Shows

EL James’ Husband To Write Movie Sequel Script

EL JAMES’ HUSBAND TO WRITE MOVIE SEQUEL SCRIPT

EL James, the author of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, has enlisted her husband to write the script for the sequel. Niall Leonard, who is married and has two sons with the British author, is an author himself, in addition to being a screenwriter. He’s written for the British TV shows Air Force One Is Down and Wire in the Blood, among others. He’s also the author of the Crusher book series. He worked on the script for the first Fifty Shades, but was not credited.

“Niall is an outstanding writer in his own right, with multiple established credits, and we are lucky to have him join Team Fifty,” says producer Michael De Luca.

James, whose real name is Erika Leonard, has been credited with keeping a strong amount of creative control when it comes to Universal’s adaptations of her books. On the first film, she clashed with director Sam Taylor-Johnson about many aspects of the film, including the ending. Neither Taylor-Johnson nor screenwriter Kelly Marcel are returning for the sequel. Due to the exit of Taylor-Johnson and Marcel, and the fact that stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, are negotiating for more money for the sequel, there hasn’t been much news on the follow-up. The first film earned a massive $568.8 million worldwide.

There have been rumors circling that James wanted to write the screenplay herself. But having her husband work on it may be a happy compromise since he has screenwriting experience that James lacks.

Listen to The Book Report at your convenience. Go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-report/id540205917?mt=2, or at bookreportradio.com, click on Archived Shows

Celebrity Bios ~ show May 30 and 31

FEATURED BOOKS PREVIEWED

“A Fine Romance” by Candice Bergen
“Part Swan, Part Goose” by Swoosie Kurtz
“Watch Me” by Anjelica Huston
“There Was A Little Girl” by Brooke Shields
“When the Balls Drop” by Brad Garrett
“So That Happened” by Jon Cryer
“Uganda Be Kidding Me” by Chelsea Handler

INTERVIEW
Swoosie Kurtz, Author

TUNE INTO THE PROGRAM FOR
A look at the new crop of celebrity bios, written by the men and women frequently in the Hollywood headlines. To add to your enjoyment, each of these titles is performed by the author. Elaine speaks with Swoosie Kurtz about her memoir, “Part Swan, Part Goose.”

Listen to The Book Report at your convenience. Go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-report/id540205917?mt=2, or at bookreportradio.com, click on Archived Shows

Sci Fi ~ Show May 23 and 24

FEATURED BOOKS PREVIEWED

“My Real Children” by Jo Walton
“Lock In” by John Scalzi
“William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back” by Ian Doescher
“Ancillary Justice” by Ann Leckie
“The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August” by Claire North
“World of Trouble” by Ben H Winters
“Apolonia” by Jamie McGuire

INTERVIEW
Ian Doescher, Author

TUNE INTO THE PROGRAM FOR
Award winning Sci Fi books that explore galaxies and times far, far away – and interior worlds that are often more foreign. Attention Star Wars fans: Elaine speaks with Ian Doescher, author of “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars.” Love it, you will….especially the dramatic asides from R2D2!

PAT CONROY TO OPEN A FITNESS STUDIO

After bad health habits nearly killed him, “The Prince of Tides” author Pat Conroy said he is opening a fitness studio near his South Carolina home to help him stay healthy enough to write several more books. Conroy announced the new business venture on Facebook recently and acknowledged it was an odd move for a 69-year-old writer who in 2009 published a cookbook featuring recipes for breakfast shrimp and grits and beefsteak Florentine.

“There is nothing on my resume that indicates I’ll be successful in this unusual endeavor,” he wrote in his Facebook post. “But I’m doing it because there are four or five books I’d like to write before I meet with Jesus of Nazareth, as my mother promised me … and I can’t write them unless I’m healthy.” In a related post on his blog, Conroy said he stopped drinking and began dieting on the advice of his doctor after nearly dying three years ago from “my own bad habits.” The novelist said he also joined the YMCA in Beaufort, South Carolina, where he met a trainer who has whipped him into shape.

Conroy, whose works of fiction and memoir include “The Great Santini” and “The Death of Santini,” said he is now partnering with his trainer, Mina Truong, to open the Mina & Conroy Fitness Studio in Port Royal. “For two years, I’ve tried to satisfy my great interior hunger with a diet that would satisfy a full-grown squirrel but did little to conquer the hippopotamus that lives within me,” he wrote.

Listen to The Book Report at your convenience. Go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-report/id540205917?mt=2, or at bookreportradio.com, click on Archived Shows

A Sendak Museum?

Three years after Maurice Sendak’s death, his western Connecticut hometown of Ridgefield is pursuing a museum honoring the author of “Where the Wild Things Are.” The town has its sights on a vacant modernist building in walking distance from the village center, a glass structure designed by acclaimed architect Philip Johnson as corporate offices for an oil exploration company that left in 2006.

A panel of local arts figures recently received endorsement from the town and Sendak’s foundation to explore the proposal. Members say they have found overwhelming support for the idea to honor a man whose influence went far beyond that of a children’s book author. “The fact is, he loved the community, and the legacy of supporting all the arts was and is important to him and all those around him,” said Lloyd Taft, a local architect.

Sendak, who died in May 2012 at the age of 83, was born in New York City but spent the last four decades of his life in rural Ridgefield. Best known for the tale of naughty Max in “Wild Things,” his work included other standard volumes in children’s bedrooms such as “Chicken Soup With Rice,” a book about the different months in a year, and “Brundibar,” a folk tale about two children who need to earn enough money to buy milk for their sick mother. He also illustrated his own work, created costumes for ballets and staged operas, including the Czech opera “Brundibar.”

His 18th-century farmhouse is being preserved as Sendak left it. “That is going to stay just the way it is and be a study center and a place for scholars, artists and others to see how Sendak worked during his lifetime,” said Donald Hamburg, a New York attorney who is a member of the Maurice Sendak Foundation’s board.

Listen to The Book Report at your convenience. Go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-report/id540205917?mt=2, or at bookreportradio.com, click on Archived Shows