The 4-Hour Chef: The New Book with Amazon

225 Comments


I love exploring and try new things. Here: failing my Maid Cafe audition in Akihabara, Tokyo. (Photo: David West)

Never before have I appeared on the cover of The New York Times, and never before have I seen such an incredible response to a single announcement involving me. From the serious (WSJ, New York Observer, Reuters, Guardian UK, etc.) to the hilarious (Gawker’s piece), it’s been a whirlwind.

In this post, I’ll shed some light on my next project, which is a first on many levels.

To start with the obvious, I couldn’t be more excited: Amazon Publishing has acquired my next book, The 4-Hour Chef, to launch its New York-based imprint.

It’s easiest to add my personal comments by putting them inline with the New York Times coverage, which is excerpted below. The official Amazon press release is provided first for context.

My notes are preceded by “TIM.”

Looking forward — and I have every intention of making this the biggest thing I’ve ever done — if you would like to contribute to The 4-Hour Chef (experiments, guest sidebars, recipes, etc.), please let me know here

Amazon Release

Amazon Publishing Acquires #1 and Four Years Running New York Times Best-Selling 4-Hour Guru Timothy Ferriss’”The 4-Hour Chef,” to Launch New York Imprint

SEATTLE, Aug 16, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — (NASDAQ:AMZN)

Amazon.com, Inc. today announced that Amazon Publishing’s first major acquisition by its New York imprint is the next book in Timothy Ferriss’ #1 New York Times best-selling “4-hour” series, “The 4-Hour Chef.” Ferriss is author of the #1 New York Times best sellers “The 4-Hour Body” and “The 4-Hour Workweek,” the latter of which has been sold into 35 languages and has been on the New York Times best seller list for more than four years. “The 4-Hour Chef,” which is expected to be released in April 2012, will be published in print, enhanced digital and audio formats by the New York-based imprint of Amazon Publishing headed by Larry Kirshbaum. Ferriss’ literary agent, Stephen Hanselman of LevelFiveMedia, represented the author in this world rights deal.

The new full-length book builds upon Ferriss’ “4-hour” philosophy by transforming the way we cook and eat. Featuring recipes and cooking guidelines from world-renowned chefs and interspersed with the revolutionary advice Ferriss’ fans have come to expect, “The 4-Hour Chef” is a practical but unusual guide to mastering food and cooking, whether you are a seasoned pro or a blank-slate novice. The book also showcases the very best recipes based on Ferriss’ The Slow-Carb Diet, which thousands of his readers have tested for fat loss and performance enhancement.

“My decision to collaborate with Amazon Publishing wasn’t just a question of which publisher to work with,” said Tim Ferriss. “It was a question of what future of publishing I want to embrace. My readers are migrating irreversibly into digital, and it made perfect sense to work with Amazon to try and redefine what is possible. This is a chance to really show what the future of books looks like, and to deliver a beautiful experience to my readers, who always come first. I could not be more excited about what we’re doing.”

“Like every book Tim has published to date, ‘The 4-Hour Chef’is a watershed work, and an ideal way to launch our new publishing imprint in New York,” said Larry Kirshbaum, VP and Publisher, Amazon Publishing, New York.

Ferriss, nominated as one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People of 2007″ and Forbes Magazine’s “Names You Need to Know in 2011,” is author of the #1 New York Times best sellers “The 4-Hour Body” and “The 4-Hour Workweek,” the latter of which has been sold into 35 languages and has been on the New York Times best seller list for more than four years. He is an angel investor (StumbleUpon, Facebook, Digg, Twitter, et al.), guest lecturer at Princeton University, and faculty member at Singularity University, based at NASA Ames Research Center. Newsweek calls Tim “the world’s best guinea pig,” which he takes as a compliment.

Amazon Publishing is the publishing arm of Amazon and encompasses the imprints AmazonEncore, AmazonCrossing, The Domino Project Powered by Amazon, Montlake Romance, Thomas & Mercer and the New York-based imprint. For more information about all imprints of Amazon Publishing, visit http://www.amazon.com/amazonpublishing. Amazon Publishing is a brand used by Amazon Content Services, LLC.

(The full press release can be found here)

The New York Times Coverage

Amazon Set to Publish Pop Author

SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon moved aggressively Tuesday to fulfill its new ambition to publish books as well as sell them, announcing that it had signed Timothy Ferriss, the wildly popular self-help guru for young men.

TIM: You can’t win all the PR positioning battles, but I certainly view myself (and my writing) as female-friendly and age-independent. Facebook Fan Page and blog analytics show a 60/40 male-female split, and the latter percentage is growing faster than in any year prior.

The terms were not disclosed. But Mr. Ferriss said in an interview, “I don’t feel like I’m giving up anything, financially or otherwise,” by signing with Amazon.

TIM: I feel this way for many reasons, one of which is the statement that an Amazon rep made to Publishers Lunch: “Our intention is to make this book available to any retailer who would like to sell it in any format.”

Amazon has been publishing books for several years, but its efforts went up several notches in visibility when it brought in the longtime New York editor and agent Laurence Kirshbaum three months ago as head of Amazon Publishing. “I hope we can do some exciting, innovative things,” Mr. Kirshbaum said on Tuesday. “But I don’t want to overpromise.”

Or get his friends in the business worried. “Our success will only help the rest of publishing,” he said.

Traditional publishers do not necessarily believe that. Some are downright nervous about the intentions of Amazon, with its deep pockets and a unparalleled distribution system into tens of millions of living rooms and onto electronic devices.

Some independent bookstores have already said they do not intend to carry any books from the retailer, not wanting to give a dollar to a company they feel is putting them out of business.

TIM: I truly believe that Amazon can change all of publishing for the better, and it’s important not to make “technological change” synonymous with “Amazon.” Much as the Harry Potter series helped spread literacy around the world — all while not “stealing” market share from other fiction — I think the innovation of Amazon can drive more total book sales across all formats, and it need not be zero-sum.

It’s important to realize — as I see it — that Amazon needs and wants great books from other publishers more than it needs its own publishing arm. Is Amazon going to publish 300,000+ books a year on its own, signing each of those authors? Of course not.

Second, just because more ebooks are sold than print books in a given time frame, that doesn’t mean that print is going away, or even that print *has* to decline. Looking at my own experience and that of my friends, Kindle users buy more books after their Kindle purchase than before. I’m happy to have 20 unread books on my Kindle, but I won’t buy 20 physical books to stack on my counter. These 20 unread books do NOT displace print purchases I would have otherwise made; they’re ADDITIONAL books I never would have bought on paper.

Third, in the long, long run, physical books will have to become art — physically beautiful and superior to an e-book in some aspect of the user experience — to sell. Prime examples include books from Phaidon, Chronicle Books, and Melcher Media. Make no mistake: “real” books will continue to sell for a long time, but, as with any free market, the biggest winnings will go to those publishers and bookseller who adapt best.

The takeaway: there are different ways to adapt besides embracing digital, and there is room for multiple winners.

Mr. Ferriss’s first book, “The 4-Hour Workweek,” has been on The New York Times Advice best-seller list for 84 weeks, and his second, “The 4-Hour Body,” for 33 weeks. Both are published by Crown, a division of Random House.

Amazon will publish his next work, “The 4-Hour Chef,” in the spring — as a hardcover, an e-book and an audio book.

The 34-year-old Ferriss is a natural choice to be the first Amazon Publishing writer. He is adept at new media (270,000 Twitter followers), expert at publicizing himself (the readers of Wired magazine gave him the self-promoter of the year award in 2008), and a start-up investor who sees nothing but shiny promise in technology.

“Amazon has a one-to-one relationship with every one of their customers,” the writer said. “You can just imagine the possibilities that opens up.”
Mr. Ferriss said he had approached Amazon about a book deal. Crown did not get a chance to match the offer because in the writer’s view, it never could have.

“The opportunity to partner with a technology company that is embracing publishing is very different than partnering with a publisher embracing technology,” he said.

TIM: My quote above is on point and 100% accurate, but the preceding sentence — “Crown did not get a chance to match the offer because in the writer’s view, it never could have.” — could lead people to the wrong conclusions about my decision.

Crown is, in my opinion, THE team to bet on among the “Big Six” publishers (see the list in my earlier post, “How Authors Really Make Money”). If it were a question of which “publisher” to go with, I would choose Crown again in a heartbeat, 10 times out of 10. The proof is in the pudding: they’ve done an unparalleled job with both The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body, and their bestseller track record extends from there. I had a wonderful experience with them.

Choosing to work with Amazon (I kept Crown informed of this before the news came out) was a complete category leap. It was, in my mind, like moving from The New York Yankees to The LA Lakers: from best-of-class in one sport to best-of-class in an entirely different sport. No one in publishing has the assets, resources, and capabilities that Amazon has; it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance at an industry first. I fully intend on maintaining a great working relationship with the entire Crown team, who are some of the most capable people I’ve ever met in any business. They know that my lifeblood is experimentation, and they have been incredibly understanding about what was a very emotional decision for me.

Mr. Ferriss has risen to mass popularity by explaining to readers how to get the most change in their lives for the least amount of effort. His books promise to help readers lose pounds through “safe chemical cocktails” and odd food combinations, gain muscle in a month with only four hours of gym time, produce 15-minute female orgasms, and sleep two hours a day and feel fully rested.

At a moment of great restlessness in publishing, Amazon is offering its own appealing shortcuts to fame and fortune. E-book sales are rising significantly, prompting struggles over royalty rates. Publishers are reluctant to raise them but writers have a useful wedge in Amazon, where they can self-publish and, at least in theory, make more.

(The full NYT piece can be found here)

###

Back to Tim

Just in case you missed it, I’d love to hear from you.

I have every intention of making The 4-Hour Chef the biggest thing I’ve ever done, and the launch will be unlike anything the world has ever seen.

If you would like to contribute to The 4-Hour Chef (experiments, guest sidebars, recipes, gear, etc.), please let me know here.

Pura vida, all :)

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

225 comments on “The 4-Hour Chef: The New Book with Amazon

  1. I have a question about the use of fermented foods for fat loss and better health; I hope this is the right place to post this! Before I get to my question though, I have several comments to make as it pertains to fermented, or cultured foods.

    In Tim’s book 4HB, Tim discusses Dr. Weston Price’s research of the consumption of fermented foods, (i.e. sauerkraut, cheese, kimchee, unsweetened plain yogurt to name a few), by various indigenous cultures and the benefits of doing so. Tim also mentions that: “Fermented foods contain high levels of healthy bacteria and should be viewed as a mandatory piece of your dietary puzzle.” Tim also mentions that he eats five forkfuls of sauerkraut in the morning and adds kimchee to most meals.

    I can see the benefits of adding fermented foods with lots of active bacteria to your digestive track; but the truth of the matter is that many of these foods contain little or no active bacteria; the key word here is “Active”! I speak as someone who has studied and made many of these foods. Once the fermentation or culturing process nears completion, unless the process is stopped or slowed, usually by refrigerating or freezing (like they do with yogurt); the little critters usually end up dying off, or going dormant. This is usually due to the bacteria’s food source being completely consumed, or because the by-products they create themselves, (such as acids, alcohol, etc…), produce an inhospitable environment for their continued existence. Yogurt is probably the best candidate to have a lot of active cultures since the culturing process is usually halted or at least slowed, by refrigeration, before the bacteria reach the tipping point and begin to decline. Most cheeses, including most “fresh” cheese, and certainly all hard or aged cheese, have completed their life cycle and are often cooked or pasteurized in the cheese making process to kill off the active bacteria, stopping the production of their by-products, and thus stabilizing the end product.

    Unless foods can be purchased while still fermenting and in an active state, such as yogurt, and as I believe kimchee often is in Asian markets, there are little or no active bacteria to speak of. Products such as sauerkraut are usually canned or bottled, and therefore would be pasteurized or treated with preservatives in order to create a stable product. Thus, there are basically no active microorganisms in virtually all pasteurized or aged products; essentially being sterile or near sterile products. The exception would be products that have been specially processed to maintain viability of the cultures, like refrigerating or freezing as previously mentioned; or by specialized processing, such as low temperature concentrating or drying. And as with all microorganisms, specific storage conditions are essential to maintain the bacteria’s viability; let them get too old, pasteurize or let them get too hot and all bets are off!

    I would imagine that many of these foods that Dr. Weston Price studied were being consumed while they were still fermenting, and therefore contained beneficial amounts of bacteria. This is not to say that many of these foods that have completed their life cycle, and thus contain little or no active bacteria, don’t have any nutrition value or benefit; just that the benefits may have more to do with many of the by-products of the fermentation an not necessarily the “active” cultures themselves.

    My question is, after my dissertation above (my apologies), is it necessary to obtain these foods in their active (fresh) state, particularly as it pertains to the sauerkraut, in order to derive the benefits that Tim discusses in his writings?

    Thanks for sticking with me!
    Randy