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Apr 29, 2005 07:46 PM

Chowhound guides and the LA version - Hey Jim L.

  • j

I thought I'd post to Jim here and throw this out to the hounds. Acdg to Publisher's Weekly, the single largest market for book buying isn't New York, it's Los Angeles-Long Beach. New York is #2.
So I wonder about Penguin's business decision. the only thing that makes sense is that the tourist trade coming to SF as well as to New orleans, is ready to include fine dining among their activities. Our tourism in Southern california is perhaps more diverse in its inclinations, which makes it easier for us to get reservations I guess.

See link below - scroll to ACCORDING TO PW

Link: http://web.utk.edu/~wrobinso/561_lec_...

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  1. Books are books, and food is food. Penguin may view the geography of the market for books about food quite differently, and they most likely have a market research department. After all, New York and SF consistently show up 1-2 on the best food cities lists.

    Link: http://eatingchinese.org

    10 Replies
    1. re: Gary Soup

      "Best food cities" is a ridiculous concept. Every city...every nabe....just about every block has great food, if you know how to look for it. And LA's got far more great food than any 70,000 devoted hounds could ever possibly uncover.

      Who knows what Penguin's real reasoning was. What's done is done, and I can't wait to do an LA book.


      1. re: Jim Leff

        I was thinking for Penguin, not for you or me or Jerome here. Their numbers are their numbers.

        1. re: Gary Soup

          I know! And, for my part, I was staving off the flame war. Ounce of prevention, etc....


          1. re: Jim Leff

            Well at least there are two guides.

            When is the New Orleans one coming out?

            1. re: Jerome

              Hmm...do you think our New Orleans board has reached critical mass to create one? We have some really good people there, but it's never been quite as full blast as some of the other boards....but, then again, I don't really stay on top of it. I wish I had more time to actually read and enjoy the site....


              1. re: Jim Leff

                no, it's not as busy as the LA board - smaller local population etc.
                if Penguin's idea is chowtourism/eatintourism and that people who travel to New York and San Francisco (non-residents) think about fine dining as a tourist activity (whereas tourists to Southern California and Florida might not), then the next logical one is New orleans. People who travel there overwhelmingly are interested in trying classics (like last centuryish Antoine's Brennans and Commander's Palace) as well as K-Paulish places, muffaletta sandwiches, creole and cajun dishes -
                that's part of the tourist experience.
                Most folks coming to LA have never heard of sand dabs or a real cobb salad served with rows of toppings or caesar salad with coddled eggs or green corn tamales. Or even nearby local dishes available here like santa maria style tri-tip (bbq), or the local fish like Catalina swordfish, Santa barbara (bay) prawns, local rock crab (not as fine as dungeness but available, cheap and tasty), pacific spiny lobster, or bubalus bubalis cheeses from gardena, or la espanola harbor city made charcuterie.

                Which makes those easier for us to get;-).

                1. re: Jerome

                  two little things you can maybe still find in LA -

                  (check out cup-o-gold
                  and our own emigre German (early 60's <DDR) sauerkraut etc's. Link below

                  Link: http://www.kruegermann.com/sys-tmpl/h...

                2. re: Jim Leff

                  Two thoughts:

                  a) NO is seen as a "food city" by anyone who's ever been there and many who have not.

                  b) There may be a surfeit of books on food in NO. Not that a CH guide to NO isn't a great idea -- just that it may have more competition than in some other places.

        2. re: Gary Soup

          No such thing as market research in the book publishing biz. Chances are that the powers that be at Viking just assume tha SF is a better food town.

          I bought both books today in L.A. (couldn't find them in Las Vegas) -- plenty of both available at Dutton's.

          1. re: Dave Feldman

            I'd have thought that Penguin would take my word for it on matters of chow (and I consider LA a mecca), but who knows.....

            It's my understanding that we're in airport bookstores...did you notice?
             Makes for fine plane reading (Newsday's about to declare this a great bathroom read, which I take as a rather extreme compliment).


        3. Look, I tried every conceivable argument and point of persuasion. But Penguin really wanted to do NY and SF first. If these two books sell well (fingers crossed; so far reaction has been much more positive than I'd imagined, but that doesn't mean they'll actually sell), we'll do LA post-haste. And it'll rock.

          I'm going to be visiting LA shortly, and I'm bummed not to have a Chowhound's Guide (OTOH, all I really need is a slip of paper with Guelaguetza's address on it....I've never been there, and want to try every single mole over and over....)


          11 Replies
          1. re: Jim Leff

            BTW, congrats! I hear you're a big Jeopardy champ! We have at least one other on the site...Seth Davis posts occasionally, and he was on the show way back and did quite well. Our usership is mostly lawyers, rock critics, and Jeopardy champions....


            1. re: Jim Leff

              I was a Jeopardy winner, too.

              1. re: Dorothy

                Don't forget us Jeopardy! losers, too.

                1. re: Mr Grub

                  Hey, don't forget those of us who watch Jeopardy occasionally!

            2. re: Jim Leff

              Wow, the big dog comes to LA. So, what else is on your list? I hope you'll do a write-up for us.

              1. re: sku

                Haven't really thought about it yet. Will probably go thru back issues of LA ChowNews and pick out the places that tortured me as I line edited....oh, Lenger's for sure (I stumbled upon it in my last visit; hadn't realized it was a legend, thought it was a "find").

                Sure, will report back! Can't wait. Haven't been there in so long that Gorky's was still open when I was last there.


                1. re: Jim Leff

                  btw, perino's, the brown derby, romanoff's, the corsican, yee mee lou's, tail o' the cock, the cock & bull, and scandia

                  they're gone too.

                  and Gustaf Anders.

              2. re: Jim Leff

                Hey Jim, went back to some old notes and found two places, Guelaguetza Palms at 11127 Palms Blvd and another called just Guelaguetza at 3337 1/2 W 8th St. A Google search turned up a third also in Koreatown at 3014 W Olympic Blvd. Is one of them THE place to go?

                1. re: PolarBear

                  Please inquire on our Los Angeles message board, where your inquiry will be answered by expert local hounds and where others with similar questions will, in future, search for their answers.

                  1. re: PolarBear

                    8th Street, is the consensus from the latest Guelaguetza thread, and I concur. Go thou and worship mole.

                    Try the goat, too.

                  2. re: Jim Leff

                    Yo, Dog. Hope you report back to the board this time.

                  3. Great points, J. My sense is that locals & frequent visitors are more likely to buy the guides than sometime tourists who likely would use the boards to research their visits.

                    As a result, Penguin prob should have looked to population when determining which mkt to use for their first books. Pop. LA: 3,820,000; SF: 898,000. This population disparitiy is even greater using the entire statistical areas (almost 10 million vs. less than 2 million).

                    Even more to the point is this. According Restaurant Business mag, LA-Long Beach is home to just under 20,000 restaurants (26,000 including Orange County). SF metro area has fewer than 6,000 (approx 14,000 including Oakland & San Jose). Therefore, not only is the mkt larger, but the need for guidance is greater too.

                    Let's hope the LA guide can be approved soon.

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: Mr Grub

                      And the guides make wonderful Chanukah and Christmas gifts too.....the more of them we give the more likely it is that we will see an LA guide next...(Maybe retitled to "The Big Guide Chow Dog Eat's LA") (g)

                      1. re: WLA

                        I'm just curious if there was any talk of an anticipated time from for the LA book based on the sucess of the other guides. Like, if both books hit the nonfiction bestsellers lists, does the LA book get a roll.

                        I know this thread is preaching to the choir and it sounds like you did try very hard to get the LA book published. But in a sense, it is really an LA/SF market. Residents in both areas visit the other often enough to find the books useful. I am planning a trip to LA this summer and was hoping there could be a chance of having the book then.

                        Jeez, I should take my own advice and start subscribing to the LA version of the Chow News. I could at least print those out to take along. But I'm hoping for a book too.

                        1. re: Krys

                          I just sent a copy of the SF area guide to a friend in Emeryville and then a copy of the Tristate one to a friend in NJ. Amazon sure makes it easy to spread the chow gospel.

                          I would imagine that if these two are successes Penguin will want to bring out the LA one as soon as they can to ride the coat tails of these two.

                          1. re: WLA

                            >>> I just sent a copy of the SF area guide to a friend in Emeryville and then a copy of the Tristate one to a friend in NJ. Amazon sure makes it easy to spread the chow gospel.<<<

                            While I'm sure that Penguin new it had a consumer base in Chowhounds, I don't think they imagined they had a built-in grassroots sales force with all the zeal of an evangalist who sells Amway part time.

                            July. I need that LA book by July.

                            1. re: WLA

                              I'll make two promises:

                              1. if we do another regional guide, it will be LA, regardless of pressure applied


                              2. I'll never speak to any of you ever again if we do an LA book and it tanks! You guys will have to, like, hawk them on the streets, have your bosses buy copies for the entire office, etc!

                              We had HUGE and very vocal demand for Chowhound t-shirts. We produced beautiful ones, absolutely top quality. And no one bought them. I'm still stinging from that.


                            2. re: Krys

                              We'll know we're over the hump when our editor starts sounding excited rather than besieged (he's actually a cheerful guy, just overworked).


                          2. re: Mr Grub

                            "Let's hope the LA guide can be approved soon."

                            It's incredibly simple: if these books sell well, we can do whatever we want. And what we most want is LA. If these books don't sell well, we fritter away our t shirts and such for a few more months (a bit longer, if David Kahn and the small band of longtime supporters don't go on diets) then go dark.


                            1. re: Jim Leff

                              Diet? What's that?

                              1. re: russkar

                                It's the Japanese Parliament.

                                1. re: Jerome

                                  Was that the "Daily Double"?

                                  1. re: russkar

                                    Now that's In & Out. (g)

                                  2. re: Jerome

                                    Continuation of off topic puns in this discussion will put it in Jeopardy of being expunged.

                                    1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                      to all - LOL!

                                      next airdate - may 16th (not about food, belongs here).