Grub Street Investigation: What Are the Best- and Worst-Selling Restaurant Cookbooks?

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Eat Me Daily predicts ’wichcraft’s new cookbook might just achieve “unseen heights of sandwich-cookbook sales” thanks to its celebrity author, Tom Colicchio. But just how well has this book sold since being published last month? Nielsen BookScan, a service that registers over 75 percent of a book’s total sales, has it at 1,853 copies (by comparison, the Top Chef cookbook has sold over 70,673 copies). This got us to wondering how well the rest of the New York City–based cookbooks have ended up doing. Do small-town Americans (or, for that matter, folks in Chicago, birthplace of the Alinea rap) really care about lifting recipes from Kenny Shopsin? And why would New Yorkers buy the book when they could get the dishes prepared by the master himself? We crunched the BookScan numbers on a host of New York cookbooks, and here’s who came out on top.

(Note: Some of these books have been available longer than others — their publication dates are next to the restaurant name, which is linked to the cookbook’s Amazon page. BookScan only tracks sales figures after 2001.)

Babbo (4/02)
59,299

Bouchon (11/04)
57,985

Rao’s (4/98)
47,053

Nobu (9/01)
42,868

Café Boulud (11/99)
35,675

Balthazar (10/03)
26,948

Patsy’s (6/02)
20,990

Morimoto (09/07)
18,934

Chanterelle (8/00)
17,685

Junior’s (2/99)
13,508 since ‘01

Gramercy Tavern (10/01)
13,246

Union Square Cafe
10,083 since ‘01

Le Bernardin (11/08)
9,911

Carmine’s (10/08)
9,604

Shopsin’s (9/08)
9,523

Jean Georges (10/07)
9,093

Fresco (9/02)
7,282

Red Cat (11/06)
4,635

Da Silvano (11/01)
3,520

Aureole (1/01)
2,710 (+ 2,849 in paperback)

’wichcraft (3/09)
1,853

‘21’ (10/95)
737 since ‘01

Café des Artistes (5/00)
619 since ‘01

Delmonico’s (10/08)
601

As a footnote, Andrew Carmellini’s cookbook wasn’t associated with a restaurant, but — at over 6,669 copies sold — it roundly beat out Johnny Iuzzini’s, which has sold over 3,414 copies. He still has a way to go before reaching Tom Valenti’s 16,446 copies sold or the 66,581 copies Lidia Bastianich has moved of Lidia’s Italy.