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July 20, 2013

Naughty Little Booze Hound
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 11:22 PM * 124 comments

Let me recommend a book to you: Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh. The subtitle is “100 Rediscovered Drinks and the Stories Behind Them.” Quarry Books, Beverly Massachusetts, 2009. ISBN 1-59253-561-3

This is a beautifully-produced book, spiral bound, board covers, glossy paper, illustrated with gorgeous color photos of the drinks themselves, and assorted period pamphlets and paraphernalia. The list of drinks runs from the Alamagoozlum Cocktail to Don The Beachcomber’s Zombie, with stops along the way at the Moscow Mule, the French 75, the Leatherneck, and the Fred Collins Fiz.

Besides the illustrations, the text includes long and learned disquisitions on the differences between a cocktail, a highball, and a vodka buck, the history of cocktails (originally a morning drink), and two centuries of general social history.

Some of the Prohibition-era cocktails have names like The Twelve-Mile Limit and the Scofflaw to give you an idea of who was drinking them, where, and why. Many of the drinks have exotic ingredients: Maybe you have gomme syrup, Crème de Violette, and Amaro Cora on the shelf but I sure don’t. Helpfully, there’s an appendix listing sources for many of the more exotic ingredients, and even a recipe for making Boker’s Bitters1 (which is no longer in commercial production). Other parts of the appendices include recipes for the drinks mentioned in passing, some in quite interesting variations.


1   Unfortunately, the Boker’s Bitters formula makes well over a gallon of the stuff, which is probably more than a lifetime supply. I can imagine getting a good number of small pressed-glass bottles, some corks, printing some labels, and thus having unusual holiday presents for all your historical-cocktail-drinking friends.


Measurements are helpfully provided in ounces, gills, and centiliters.

Let me show you how this book reads: This is the text for “The Secret Cocktail”:

Just so you know, the real name of this drink is not the Secret Cocktail. I will eventually reveal its rightful title, but be forewarned, it has two characteristics that scare people to death: its name—it is enough to send virtually all men and most women running away, screaming—and that darned egg again. See the Alamagoozlum Cocktail (page 28) and the Delicious Sour (page 104) for my stance on egg in drinks.

First of all, this is a forgotten cocktail in the truest sense, but it is cloaked in familiarity because you can walk into virtually any bar and order one, if you have a mind to, but they will all be wrong, incorrect, not even close. ALL of them. First concocted in the early twentieth century, the Clover Club Cocktail was named for the venerable Philadelphia men’s club, created at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, and was consumed in copious quantities by its estimable members (financiers, attorney, captains of industry and traditional literary sorts).

The Secret Cocktail is not a Clover Club, but I must tell you what a Clover Club contained so you will understand the insanity surrounding the not-yet-unnamed cocktail of our discourse. It contained gin, lemon juice, and egg white, and a bit of grenadine. It was an opalescent, light-rose hue. Very fetching. Our Secret Cocktail contains the ingredients you see:

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1-½ ounces (½ gill, 4.5 cl) dry gin
  • ½ ounce (⅛ gill, 1.5 cl) applejack
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 dashes real pomegranate grenadine

Shake it up with all due vigor in an iced cocktail shaker, strain into a cocktail glass, and serve with a cherry.

Drink Notes

Note the similarity to the Clover Club? Same production, same proportions. Men, however (and now women) would not be caught dead ordering our little Secret Cocktail … the original Pink Lady. All the Pink Lady did was to add some applejack, which made the drink immeasurably tastier, but not one whit sweeter. It was also just a tad stronger,and the two cocktails were equally pink. Now you tell me: Who was smarter, the guys or the dolls? Jury is in. The women win. So make this drink correctly for all your friends, but don’t tell them the name of the drink until after they’ve tasted it.

I’d also like to add that the best place to order either the Clover Club or (shhhh) the Secret Cocktail is at the Clover Club bar in Brooklyn, New York. This place is the brainchild of one of the great visionaries of the bar, Julie Reiner. I wish I was there right now.

So, how did I happen to come upon this marvelous little book?

There I was, walking through a real doors-and-windows bookstore, looking for a book on interpreting EKGs. (I wanted to see what they had on the shelf, y’see, and compare it to my needs.)

And, as one does, whilst walking through a bookstore, I cast my eye onto the other shelves. And there this was. One look and I knew that it would be mine. It’s pretty, it’s full of history and trivia, and the recipes look Darned Good.

Why do people buy books? Mostly because they’ve read and enjoyed something else by the same author. In this case I’d never heard of Ted Haigh before. A second reason is because a trusted friend recommended it (as I hope I stand in relation to y’all: You do want to buy this book if what I’ve told you of it so far seems at all interesting). In this case, nobody had mentioned the book, either. There’s a third class of sales: The ones that come from a reader Seeing Something Interesting on the Shelf.

Now the serious part of this post:

AN OPEN LETTER TO WHOEVER THE HECK IS IN CHARGE OVER THERE AT BARNES & NOBLE

Listen up.

If I want a toy, I go to a toy store. If I want candy, I go to a candy store. If I want electronics I go to an electronics story. Do you know what I want when I go to a bookstore? Any guesses? Well, it isn’t toys, candy, or electronics. I want books.

Not just books: A good selection of books. And that includes midlist and backlist. Say I see the third volume of a series on the shelf, a series I’d not encountered before. It looks interesting. I want to buy the first couple of volumes too. They came out a few years ago. If they aren’t there, what’s the message? You want me to order ‘em from Amazon? If I’m doing that I might as well order all three and get free shipping.

I know it sounds like Dreadful Business Speak, but what you need to do is get back to your core competence: Selling books. To people like me. I’m here, I’m eager to buy books. I’ll drive three hours to get to a well-stocked bookstore. And that does not mean well-stocked-with-sports-jerseys-coffee-cups-and-calendars.

For the Love of Benji, all those books are fully returnable. I bet the candy isn’t. Stock books. Give people places where they can sit, good light, ample parking, and Sell Me A Book, kay? Not just the book I was looking for. The book I wasn’t looking for, but knew, the minute I saw it, that I had to have it.

That’s what you need to do.

Comments on Naughty Little Booze Hound:
#1 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 12:06 AM:

I almost wish I drank!

#2 ::: Miramon ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 12:07 AM:

Way back into the murky depths of the 70s, when Barnes & Noble was just a few big stores in NYC, even then they were a discount shop that didn't have the coverage of some of the other better bookstores at the time. I remember back then they had huge non-book sections full of toys and gizmos and other random stuff, too. When I was a kid, if I specifically wanted a book, I'd go to the late lamented Coliseum Books, but if I was downtown, I'd go to B&N for fun to see all the weird stuff they had for sale.

But yeah, in many parts of the country there are no big independent bookstores anyway, and they are usually wasting a lot of space on crap, so it would indeed be nice if they maintained a more extensive selection. Of course at this point they have been fighting a losing war against Amazon for a decade, and they probably don't have much left in the way of inspiration for making constructive changes to the brick and mortar.

#3 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 12:10 AM:

I don't object to them having some touyys and games - but they need to remember that they are primarily a book store.
The nearest B&N closed last winter. The next nearest one is about four miles farther - on surface streets. (They keep stores in the high-end areas, where you know the leases are expensive, and and close the ones in the less-expensive areas, while they're losing money. Guys, how does that help turn around your #$%^&* business?)

#4 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 12:13 AM:

2
I've gone into B&N for their bargain books, which are reprints of books you might not otherwise find, as well as, occasionally, some of the toys. (There aren't many places to buy good jigsaw puzzles, or toys that aren't intended for young children.)

#5 ::: John D. Berry ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 01:22 AM:

Good stuff. Now I have to dig out that turn-of-the-last-century bartender's book that I found somewhere, and maybe scan it or otherwise turn it into a modern book for the curious.

Typically stupid, pedantic rant from someone who pays close attention to how words are arranged, punctuated, and set in type: lose the goddam spurious cap after the colon. "I know it sounds like Dreadful Business Speak, but what you need to do is get back to your core competence: Selling books." Outside of computer software manuals with their endless bulleted lists, a colon is a punctuation mark used within a sentence: not between sentences. Almost never should the first word after a colon be capitalized. It's just visual noise, contributing nothing at all to understanding the meaning of a sentence. (And no, it doesn't matter whether what follows the colon *could* be a complete sentence. It's not. It's part of the same sentence, just like what follows a semicolon; you wouldn't capitalize the "Y" of "you just a few words back there, would you?)

#6 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 01:34 AM:

"Scofflaw" was the winning entry in a contest held in 1924 for a word for a person who violated the Prohibition amendment.

According to Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails the Scofflaw Cocktail was devised less than two weeks later. It's a concoction of rye, vermouth, lemon juice, and grenadine.

#7 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 01:39 AM:

Hmpf. I should have capitalized "Books" too.

#8 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 01:50 AM:

I have more than once* said to the customer service person at a B&N that if I have to order the book and pay shipping and wait for it to arrive, I'm going to order it from Amazon where I get points. They win by having it IN THE STORE, where I can walk out with it in my hands NOW, and I'll pay more for that privilege.

* The most recent time just last week, when I was looking for the newest Benjamin January book. The one that just came out a couple of months ago, in hardcover. B&N lost that sale because they weren't even stocking the latest book in the series.

#9 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 02:05 AM:

There are four major shopping malls on Oahu. B&N had stores in two of them; Borders had one in a third, and the fourth, as I recall, had no bookstore at all. Borders also had one or two in secondary or tertiary shopping centers.

Now Borders is gone and B&N is leaving one of its two shopping mall locations, to be replaced by a Ross Dress for Less emporium. The remaining B&N is at Ala Moana Shopping Center, the biggest mall in the state, and one that's upscaling itself out of usefulness for many locals. It's centrally located, though, so I'll drive the 15 miles from my house to its location, even though that means getting on a very congested freeway and equally congested surface streets once off the freeway.

But, as Jim says, the least they could do after I've gone to the trouble is have books. This is the only B&N I'm familiar with, and it's a huge store so there are a lot of books and CDS, but there's also a lot of miscellany. I wonder what the sales turnover of that stuff is.

#10 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 02:16 AM:

Not to mention the chance of finding books that I didn't know existed, either new or used -- when I went down to Texas, I found a book my grandmother had inscribed to another woman who was important in American prints of the mid-twentieth century. The number of dealers who would have thought that point worth mentioning is minuscule.

#11 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 02:39 AM:

B&N can't make enough money selling books to afford their real estate out here. All of us here buy eleventy billion books, but book buyers are maybe 5% of the population. They would do well to let their leases run out, find smaller real estate and specialize in Actual Readers of Books, but that sort of logic seems anathema to corporate monkeys. Instead they'll die a slow death as readers flock to Amazon. Hard to believe they survived WalMart and Costco but couldn't figure out how to beat the internet.

I have the same damn rant about midlist titles and series books, but B&N isn't the only violator. My favorite relatively local indie always seems to have books 1,3 and 4 in any given series, or books 2 and 3. For more sprawling series, it's Most Recent in HC, with book 1 in mass and a smattering of some of the interim books. It seems like someone could run some statistics to find a workable logarithm to determine how many of each book in a series to buy. (similar grouses about the number of XS clothing leftover and the death of My Size.)

But thanks for the book recommendation! This sounds like something I need. I'll have to conceal the presence of egg whites in some of the drinks, since my roommate is unjustifiably terrified by raw eggs - she nearly knocked a brownie beater out of my hand the other day. I managed to salvage the spatula. I told her if I was going to go down from licking the bowl whilst making cookies, then at least I died doing something I loved.

#12 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 03:56 AM:

Tom @10: Yup. I recently bought from an online seller a copy of Volume 1 (1932) of the Annual Review of Biochemistry. Signed by the original owner -- a Stanford undergrad with a Nobel laureate for a father, who went on to get her doctorate and then do critical work in developing the polio vaccine.

The seller hadn't even thought to mention it.

#13 ::: Brooks Moses is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 03:58 AM:

Possibly for links, or possibly for badly-chosen words. I'm afraid I have no alcohol to offer the gnomes, but perhaps they would like some of the mint-and-fennel-and-black-pepper tea I had with dinner? It was really quite good, and I say this as someone who almost never likes teas and tisanes.

#14 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 07:40 AM:

Lee @ #8, better yet, if it's not on their shelves I can order it from my local indie bookstore (waves at Avid Bookshop). They are quicker at looking it up, they get it to me faster, and they're interested in chatting with me about the book and how things are going in general.

Oh, and they spend their money locally. What goes around comes around, literally.

#15 ::: Lila has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 07:40 AM:

Possibly for a link to her local indie bookshop. Alas.

#16 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 08:11 AM:

...Say I see the third volume of a series on the shelf, a series I’d not encountered before. It looks interesting. I want to buy the first couple of volumes too. They came out a few years ago. If they aren’t there, what’s the message?...

I had just this experience with Borders about a year and a half before they closed. They had emailed me a the newest book in a series. They didn't have the earlier books in the series. I checked a few locations and they only had the newest book. I complained to one store manager. B&N had a floor display with a couple of the earlier books. I bought what I could one day. The rest of the series I got when Borders had their closing sales, and earlier books showed up in one store.

#17 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 09:56 AM:

I'm a definite cocktail geek--and Ted Haigh is a huge name among cocktail geeks.

In case anyone wants to try a Pink Lady, use Laird's Apple Brandy (not their applejack, which is blended.) And here's a good, easy recipe for grenadine.

1 pint pomegranate juice (POM or the like)
2 cups sugar
1 tsp orange flower water
1/2 tsp rose water
1/8 tsp EACH vanilla and almond extract
1/4 tsp red food coloring

Boil 1/2 cup of the pomegranate juice with 1/4 cup sugar until it smells like molasses instead of fruit. Add the rest of the juice and sugar, bring to a boil. Let cool, add everything else, stir and pour into a bottle. It will keep fine at room temperature for months.

And if you have applejack and grenadine, try a Jack Rose.

#18 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 10:40 AM:

I have Creme de Violette! ...but that's because my exceedingly haphazard alcohol collection is composed of trips to the liquor store for one of two reasons:

1) "I should really have this basic ingredient in my liquor cabinet. People tell me everyone does."

2) "That cocktail sounded great! I'd better get all the ingredients so I can try making it."

Which is how I have an entire bottle of interesting, fancy...whatever is in Creme de Violette...and only know one recipe to use it. I guess I should make Aviations more often.

#19 ::: Fade Manley, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 10:41 AM:

Held for review, possibly for my exuberant expressions, or my excessive ellipses. The gnomes are welcome to the booze contained in my post.

['Twas an exclamation point followed by a space followed by a period. -- Malrus Begoin, Duty Gnome]

#20 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 12:32 PM:

Fade:

There's a bunch of cocktails that use Creme de Violette: the Aviation, sure, but also the Angel's Kiss, the Snowball, and the Blue Moon. I'm sure there are others.

Hmmm...

Viable Paradise is going to be interesting this year. I feel the need to go on a liquor buying binge. Because VP is the answer to "Yes, but when would I ever make that?"

#21 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 12:33 PM:

A note on the earlier books of series not being available: often they aren't in print any more. And there's even a reason, which we noticed as booksellers years ago and is not always easy to prevent from the publisher's side.

Book 1 sells okay. Book 2 comes out, and book 1 is reprinted (and book 2 has a larger print run). When book 3 comes out, publisher still has enough copies of 1 and 2 to handle initial orders. But book 3 sells better than expected, and there are lots of reorders for books 1 and 2, which have sold out. There aren't enough orders to make it worth reprinting several thousand copies of 1 and 2, especially if they're to be printed fast enough to fill the orders and not have to be warehoused.

Book publishing has serious timelags and serious quantity issues built into it, which make it more of an art than a science.

Someone who actually works is current publishing is more than welcome to correct me if I'm wrong.

#22 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 12:40 PM:

Fade @18: Aviations are delicious! Though, come to that, I don't know anything else which uses Creme de Violette either. I suppose it might add a slightly different flavor note anywhere St. Germain (elderflower liquer) is called for.

A house I used to live in added a third category, "things people have brought over and left," which was the explanation for the Kirchwasser but not the two full liters of Icelandic caraway liquer.

#23 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 12:47 PM:

Kevin, thanks to Google I have a recipe here that uses both St. Germain and Creme de Violette: the Stormy Morning.

Woo! Looks like making one would take about fifty bucks. Best to have a consortium of folks who all want to have one to split the costs....

#24 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 12:54 PM:

I invented another drink that uses both creme de violette and St-Germain: the Faded Flowers layered shot. Equal parts of those two and rose-flavored vodka. This is what happens when I get to poke around in Elizabeth Bear's liquor cabinet after I've had some absinthe.

#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 01:32 PM:

The only bitters I keep around being Angostura (yes, I see nothing whatsoever wrong in making a small contribution to the economy of Trinidad and Tobago), I am curious as to how Boker's Bitters differ from that. The company that currently makes Boker's also make several other bitters (it also makes falernum, but not currently, I was sad to see, for sale).

#26 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 01:35 PM:

An Angel's Kiss, a drink supposedly made with creme de violette, figures in "The Green Thumb", one of the Tales from Gavagan's Bar. None of the recipes I find on the net call for it, though. What does Tom Haigh say?

#27 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 01:36 PM:

"Vodka-martini."
"Shaken or stirred?"
"Do I look like I give a damn?"
- Casino Royale

#28 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 02:30 PM:

Here's a recipe for the Angel's Kiss that does use Creme de Violette. (From TheVintageDrink.com)

#29 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 04:39 PM:

Sadly, my reasonable-sized alcohol collection doesn't include Creme de Violette; however, my go-to source for "what would I do with that?", cocktaildb, has 23 recipes. (Add the usual commercial extension.)

On grenadine--it's not just for cocktails; good grenadine and soda water is a favorite drink of small children around here, and the slightly sweeter Shirley Temple is actually good with good grenadine.

#30 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 04:45 PM:

Tom @21:

That sort of thing has *always* been a problem. However, it's gotten much worse lately because now most publishers aren't even trying; it's not that it's not financially worth ordering a new print run of Book #1, it's that absolutely nobody at the publisher is tracking the fact that #1 is out of print and there's demand.

I blame the "Hollywood Box Office" thinking at the big 4 (3?) publishers nowadays, where senior management only pays attention to how many orders a book gets within the 3 weeks after initial release, and no attention whatsover to their back lists. This despite the fact that for most publishers, their back lists are far more profitable than their front lists (or were, when they had a real back list). I've seen this at several publishers, and yet it's still a mystery to them why they're losing money.

#31 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 05:22 PM:

SamChevre, #29: Grenadine-and-soda is my go-to when I'm ordering from a bar. It tastes good, and the odds of at least 1 person asking me, "What IS that?" are nearly 100% because it's a truly amazing shade of pink.

Ginger syrup and soda is too sweet for my taste, but can be tamed by squeezing a couple of lemon chunks into it. Or maybe the bartender just put too much syrup in it -- I've only ordered it once.

Returning to the topic of bookstores, I think the observation that people don't walk into a B&N to look for toys or boutique-y stuff or electronics (outside of e-readers specifically) is key. If you're in there at all, it's probably to look for a BOOK, and therefore the more space devoted to books the better. Magazines, greeting cards, and calendars are at least tangentially related, but food and handbags and coffee cups and art prints? If I'm looking for those, B&N is not going to be the place that leaps to mind.

KeithS has a neighborhood indie bookstore, and I've been in there several times looking for something, and have yet to find the book I wanted on any of those visits -- but it's also full of boutique-y gift items. Since it is an indie store, I will generally look around to see if there's any other book I want while I'm in there; B&N doesn't get that response because it's a chain.

#32 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 05:52 PM:

If I had been looking for EKG-interpretation manuals in one of the on-line bookstores, never in a million years would this book have cropped up. People who bought this also bought that? Enough doctors, nurses, and EMTs are going to buy the same historical-cocktail formulary to make it pop to the surface? And would it show up in a "Selected for you" list based on my shopping history? Given that I've never in my life bought any other bartenders' guide -- probably not.

#33 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 06:24 PM:

I'm sorely tempted to buy a copy. At this point, after a friend got me *back* into drinking tasty ethanol-bearing liquids, I've got a pretty extensive bar cabinet. I've even contemplated getting a bottle of Creme de Violette, since the grocery store a block from my apartment carries it.

#34 ::: Kaleberg ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 06:56 PM:

I recently bought that very bartender's guide on Amazon, thanks to their automatic recommendations system. (To be honest, I never know what to do in a bookstore anymore. It's easier online.) We're big cocktail fans here, and we're getting ready for our annual luau which is cocktail heaven. We sort of live on Amazon, and we don't just buy books there. For example, we bought our last two lawnmowers there with two day guaranteed Amazon Prime shipping.

Also, is it worth mentioning a Kindle or other digital book reader? Electronic publication means less trouble maintaining and accessing a back list. Even better, if you are stuck at the airport in Santiago, Hobart or Dubrovnik with nothing to read, you can just browse the online bookstore and download something.

Back in the 1980s, we managed to track down some Creme de Violette for a violet cake recipe we wanted to try. Actually, a friend found it for us at Sherry-Lehmann in Manhattan. It was really hard to find back then. To be honest, the cake wasn't all that good. C de V is awfully sweet. We'll stick with the chocolate covered violet cream candies we order online.

#35 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 08:16 PM:

Jim @23: I have no idea how that tastes, but it looks gorgeous. I'll have to give it a try.

The combination of champagne and St. Germain reminds me a bit of a drink I concocted at a friend's house, which was a shot of lightly-flavored gin (I think Bombay Sapphire?), half a shot of St. Germain, fill with champagne, garnish with a pineapple wedge. St. Germain works really well to tie flavors together, IME.

Fifty bucks? Wow. I always forget how high Boston liquor prices are. The St. Germain alone would run me $30-40.

#36 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 08:52 PM:

Kevin, 35: Oh, curses. Boston: where you can find everything and afford nothing.

What if I threw, not a cocktail party, but a Cocktail Party? Everybody brings one exotic bottle, and then everybody gets a sip of each astounding concoction.

This would have to be separate from my Book-Unboxing In Lieu of Housewarming Party, of course. But might be fun for Twelfth Night....(Rikibeth has dibs on the couch, but I also have an air mattress, in case another out-of-towner wants to come.)

#38 ::: joel hanes ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 09:48 PM:

often they aren't in print any more. And there's even a reason

and I had understood that part of that reason was the 1979 tax court decision in Thor Power Tools, after which publishers suddenly found that if they claimed depreciation on their already-printed backlist, they had to actually sell those books at the depreciated price. This was a huge change in the business model: before Thor, publishers were allowed to depreciate their back inventory, while selling the books at original list -- the depreciation went to pay for the storage and cataloging.

Thor also demolished the repair parts business model for all kinds of machines; and is a major reason why hardly anyone still designs machines for repairability and long service life -- it's practically a given that there will be no "original" parts after ten years, since the machine manufacturer can no longer afford to over-produce and then warehouse the parts during original production.

The effects of this one ruling are so far-reaching, so unintended, and so deleterious that I've often thought that a nation with a rational and effective Legislative branch would have long since seen passage of a corrective law. (Let me know if you ever encounter such a nation.)

OTOH, after Thor, the seconds tables at good bookstores became tremendous bargains. I often picked up a first-run hardback of a good book from two years ago for a buck or two.

#39 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 06:43 AM:

I too am tempted to buy a copy of Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. Other books on booze already to hand include the alleged classics Notes on a Cellar-Book (1920) by George Saintsbury and Stay Me with Flagons (1940) by Maurice Healey. Colin Wilson rambles around the subject, quite entertainingly, in A Book of Booze (1974) – he once confessed that his book of music criticism had been written to make his record collection tax-deductible, and I wonder whether he got away with claiming research expenses for this one.... Kingsley Amis, another one-time "Angry Young Man", wrote a couple of such books: On Drink (1972) is a lot of fun, with much Amisian grumpiness such as the Mean Sod's Guide to keeping your guests (though not yourself) short of drinks "while seeming, at any rate to their wives, to have done them rather well." This section ends: "If you think that all or most of the above is mere satirical fantasy, you cannot have been around much yet."

#40 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 11:07 AM:

One thing that truly boggles me about B&N is how they don't lean hard on their one true advantage over Amazon (that is, physical presence). There are two ways that seem obvious to me that they could take a serious dent out of eBook sales, an area Amazon is currently killing them in:

1) Browse an eBook before buying.
Not sure if you want to buy a given book? Need to see how well the diagrams were scanned before buying? Here, try it out on one of the sample Nook/android devices we have physically attached to the Nook display counter.

2) Buy an eBook in-store at the register.
Don't want to put that book on the credit card (and/or, don't have a credit card)? The service desk can print you out a slip of paper that you can take to the register, pay for with cash, and then have something that your dedicated Nook device or tablet with Nook app can scan to then get you that book.
Likewise, the bit you scan to get the book easily separates from what they scan at the register so that you can give this eBook as a gift that appears under the tree. (and conveniently, available for sale in that aisle to your left is a wide selection of festive gift envelopes exactly the right size your gift eBook papers)

--

The reasons B&N don't do this probably have more to do with internal corporate organization than anything technical.

#41 ::: Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 12:26 PM:

I don't understand the economics; if a book is going to sit in a warehouse, it might as well sit on a bookstore shelf where someone might buy it.

#42 ::: joel hanes ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 12:53 PM:

if a book is going to sit in a warehouse, it might as well sit on a bookstore shelf where someone might buy it.

To a first approximation, warehouses in which publishers keep already-printed books from their back catalog no longer exist. The tax courts destroyed that business model in 1979.

As I tried to explain, in the wake of the Thor Power Tools decision, the publishers were faced with this choice:

1. Continue with the warehouse/back-catalog model, selling back-catalog titles at list price, without claiming tax depreciation on the inventory -- thus, choose to pay inventory tax on the full list price of the entire contents of your warehouse every year. The taxes wipe out any possible profit.

2. Continue with the warehouse/back-catalog model, claim depreciation and thus avoid inventory taxes, and sell your back catalog at the depreciated prices. The low price wipes out any possible profit.

3. Close the warehouse, thus avoiding the inventory tax, by exiting the back-catalog business. Restrict print runs, printing no more copies than you think you can sell within the fiscal year. If you over-print, dump the books immediately as seconds, to avoid paying inventory tax.

Publishers eventually chose door number 3. Today, even books with substantial continuing sales frequently go out of print, until backed-up demand increases to the point that prospective single-year sales are sufficient to justify another printing.

#43 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 01:06 PM:

Anderson @ 41:
Ah, but you have to pay freight to get the merchandise from the warehouse to the store. Then employee time to unpack, check and physically get the books from the back room to the shelves and maintain the public area.

Paper is heavy. Employee time is expensive. If you're running a chain, cutting back to only handling the fast-movers seems cost-effective, though as this discussion indicates, it's short-sighted.

#44 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 01:28 PM:

Paper is heavy. Employee time is expensive.

And warehouses are located where the rent is low, not in the mall. Retail floor space is at a premium because it costs a premium.

Plus, it takes more square feet to display 1000 books so that customers can look at them than to just store them in boxes piled up to the ceiling.

I'm annoyed by the narrow selection in physical bookstores too, but I can't pretend there wouldn't be substantial costs to trying to keep and display more books per store. Most markets just can't support a bookstore the size of a grocery store or a Home Depot.

#45 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 01:30 PM:

Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails is sensibly endowed with a spiral binding, no doubt, so that it will lie flat on the bar while your hands are busy mixing ingredients.

#46 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 01:52 PM:

Spiral-bindings are a great choice for all recipe books, I think, whether for food, drink, or anything else.

I notice that David Embury's Fine Art of Mixing Drinks is in print again, although in a poorly-copyedited scan of the original. I wish that had a spiral binding as well.

(Note to anyone looking at the Amazon reviews or other comments on his martini recipe: the gin/vermouth ratio of 7:1 is not a stronger drink; it's a drier drink, which uses less vermouth for a given amount of gin. It does not call for more gin than a 4:1 ratio. Math is hard; let's get drunk!)

#47 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 02:24 PM:

fidelio, #45: Maybe I'm looking at this backwards, but given 2 drinks of equivalent size, if one is made 4:1 and the other 7:1, doesn't the latter have more gin in it than the former? Equivalent size + less vermouth = more gin. Whether that would make it a "stronger" drink or not depends on the relative alcohol content of gin vs. vermouth -- that would be a mixture problem, the bane of my 8th-grade math.

#48 ::: Craig ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 03:11 PM:

I've developed a set of diagnostic tests to figure out when a B&N branch is going out of business. So far, this works well (but my sample size is N=1 :-)

1) The branch starts reducing the number of books it stocks (beyond the reduction necessary to devote 40% of floor space to the Nook and Games sections).
It attempts to disguise this fact by progressively dedicating more and more shelf space to new paperbacks, then it starts shelving books face-out as opposed to spine-out.
2) It starts reducing staffing. Unless your branch is very small and has low turn-over, you are unlikely to know enough of the employees to be able to tell directly.
However, there are indirect signs. First, if there is a cafe, it will develop longer lines because there is only 1 person behind the counter.
Then you will start seeing misshelved books. This will eventually get to the point that entire sections will lose almost all alphabetization. Finally, you'll start seeing trash around the store -- sometimes not picked up for days on end (unless you do it yourself).
3) They reduce the number of books in stock even further; more importantly, you will see a dramatic reduction in the number of new books. Again, they will attempt to disguise this by leaving books in the New Hardcover/Softcover sections for prolonged periods of time.

Each of these stages takes about 4-6 months to run to completion, so if you keep your eyes open, you can predict the demise of a branch up to a year in advance. I am currently tracking one or two branches that are in mid-stage 2, and I expect them to be gone by the end of the year (B&N HQ will probably wait till after the Xmas season).

#49 ::: Craig ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 03:17 PM:

Speaking of closing branches, the branch nearest to me closed 1/1/2012, after exhibiting those signs in that order. The manager told me that the store was still turning a profit the entire time. Now, instead of having a bookstore in walking distance, I have two B&Ns which are each a 25-minute drive. I used to go to the bookstore every weekend, and spend about $10 in the cafe even if I didn't buy a book. Now, I might go every other weekend and spend $5.

Why did B&N make this idiot move? Well, the Borders that they were competing with (which was a 15 minute drive from me) closed down. And evidently HQ decided that if people wanted books, they'd just be willing to drive further. Guess what? They're wrong.

#50 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 03:24 PM:

Lee @46--Not necessarily. Do you base your proportions on the amount of vermouth (a flavoring agent in a martini) or the amount of gin (the base liquor)? I'd work from the base. myself, given that this is the principal component in the drink (We aren't talking about a long drink like a highball or a Tom Collins where the soda is the main ingredient by volume).

Here is a not-uncommon recipe for a martini:

•2 1/2 oz gin
•1/2 oz dry vermouth
•1 green olive or lemon twist for garnish
•Orange or Angostura bitters (optional)

You'll note that the vermouth is half a fluid ounce compared to the gin's 2.5 fluid ounces. (That's in the neighborhood of 15 ml. vermouth against 75 ml. gin for those wanting a greater granularity in their measurements.) This is a gin/vermouth ratio of 5:1.

If you take the same 2.5 fluid ounces/75 ml. of gin in a 7:1 ratio, you'd use around .4 fluid ounces/11 ml. of vermouth. And you calculate off the gin because as the base liquor it's the main component and the one customers are paying the most for, as well as the most noticeable component in the drink. People will complain about not getting all the gin (or other base liquor) they feel they are entitled to but are less concerned about the volume of flavoring components, as long as their drink tastes the way they want it to. Also, the difference between 3 fluid ounces (90 ml.) and 2.9 fluid ounces (86 ml.) isn't going to be obvious unless you're serving the drink in a graduated cylinder.

In the US, gin has to have at least 40% Alcohol by volume, and vermouth runs around 16% to 18% ABV. So the drink with less vermouth is really going to have a tad less total alcohol than the drink with more vermouth, as long as you start mixing with the same amount of gin. It's not a lot less, given the 16-18% ABV of the vermouth and the small quantity of vermouth involved, but as anyone who's worked with vanilla extract can attest, a small amount can have a big effect on flavor.

The amount of vermouth you use might be compared to how much sugar you use in a lemonade recipe in proportion to the lemon juice. It's not a perfect analogy, but you start your recipe with the lemon juice and work from there to get the result you want, just as you start with your primary or base liquor and work from there with your other flavorings.

(While we're on martini myths for $1000, Alex, let me note that it's the vermouth that makes a shaken martini cloudy. The gin is not 'bruised'! James Bond's 'shaken not stirred' vodka martini is going to be a little turbid)

#51 ::: Craig ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 03:25 PM:

Actually, this brings to mind a question about the publishing world I've had for a while. I'm hoping our hosts could possibly shed some light on this.

What's the story with oversized paperbacks? These did not used to exist in the numbers that they currently show up in. From a reader's perspective, I'm not crazy about them: they are difficult to shelve and they cost almost twice as much as a normal paperback. I understand that it's sort of a compromise between a hardcover and a paperback -- people may not pay $25 for the privilege of owning a copy 6 months before the paperback comes out, but they might pay $16. But do the numbers really work out to make this such a good idea?

#52 ::: Jason Aronowitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 03:40 PM:

Joel Hanes @38 - that's fascinating! Is there a reference you can point me to on the spare parts and decline of quality angle?

Craig @50 - Trade paperbacks: the durability of a paperback and the convenience of a hardcover, all in one!

#53 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 03:54 PM:

Your trade paperbacks were originally the book blocks intended for hardcovers which didn't sell, instead being bound in a cheaper binding in hopes of making back at least a little of the money that had already been spent to print them.

As they currently stand, trade paper gives you three-quarters of the expense of a hardback while it yields half the income. A bad idea all around.

#54 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 04:04 PM:

Historically, books were bound by the people who bought them in the very early days. Think pre-18th century for this. That's one reason there's a lot of variation in early bindings.

A basic problem with mass paperbacks is that they were so cheap, they were destroyed rather than returned (covers stripped off, and the covers returned as evidence of destruction; on magazines, the title with the date off the cover was evidence enough for pulps). Trade paperbacks were returned as full copies, so they could be resold. They're also printed in smaller runs, so for backlist TPBs are a much better deal for the publisher. Yes, they have to be warehoused, but in much smaller volumes than mass paperbacks. The Print on Demand (POD) model had the potential to change this significantly, but I've been away from bookselling long enough not to know if it has done so.

#55 ::: joel hanes ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 04:19 PM:

Allow me to google that for you.

Right off the bat I discover that while Thor did have the impact I described on publishers' backlists, I incorrectly described the mechanism. Here's a description for the SWFA audience:

http://www.sfwa.org/2005/01/how-thor-power-hammered-publishing/

Here's the actual decision

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/printer_friendly.pl?page=us/439/522.html

I was unable to find an article describing the impact on OEM machine parts inventories, although that was the primary subject of the ruling. I vaguely remember an Atlantic? article from the earliest 1980s that described both the machine parts and publishing impacts of Thor, but I have so far been unable to find that through Google.

#56 ::: Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 04:38 PM:

Trade paperbacks also (often) are photoset from the hardcover, so there's no expense for resetting the text. That also means they're usually easier to read - I like 'em.

... Re: warehouses, back in the day, books came from 3d-party warehousers like Ingram. Dk if that's still the case. But the books aren't all coming straight from the publisher.

As for expense of shipping, sure, but that ties into another problem BN has: an acute lack of cleverness as to what people want to buy.

(Free hint to BN: every time someone asks the info desk to look up whether a book's in stock, log it. Ditto the online "find book in store" feature.)

#57 ::: Craig ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 05:09 PM:

Jim@53, Anderson@56: The funny thing is that a lot of the time, I see an over-sized paperback without ever having seen a hardcover first. Both of your explanations assume that some set of hardcovers were printed, and I don't think that's the case.

#58 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 05:33 PM:

56
I found that using 'find book in store' usually means that it isn't in stock, no matter what it might say. (What good is keeping a live-inventory program available if you can't get timely information based on it?)

#59 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 05:34 PM:

In many cases, yes, trade paperbacks are original publications (sometimes with a small hardback run on top of it, as with many Bantam books of the 90s).

#60 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 05:35 PM:

No, Craig. I'm describing the origin of trade paperbacks. They've since become a thing of their own, TP originals, but they still have 75% of the costs for only 50% of the income.

#61 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 06:45 PM:

fidelio, #50: Thank you for the detailed explanation. The thing that was tripping me up was that I was starting from the total volume after both ingredients have been added. It would appear, then, that (1) the two drinks are not (strictly speaking) of equivalent size, but (2) the difference is far too small for the average person to notice. And pretty much all of my confusion can be put down to me being a non-drinker, and having paid (by and large) less attention to the finer points of alcohol consumption than I have to the finer points of professional sports. This is all deeply alien territory for me.

#62 ::: Jason Aronowitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 06:58 PM:

Joel Hanes @55, thanks for trying. I asked after searching because I could not find anything on the impact of the case other than on publishing, and the larger issues you raised caught my interest.

#63 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 08:11 PM:

I'm still not clear on why publishers persist in producing large-sized paperbacks if they're less profitable. Also, they're less profitable than hard-covers, but how to they compare to standard paperbacks?

Also, there've been some tall paperbacks-- somewhat taller than standard paperbacks, and costing a dollar or two more. What's the theory there?

#64 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 08:46 PM:

I knew what The Secret Cocktail would turn out to be as soon as the words "Clover Club" were dropped, due to having encountered this snippet from The Bartender's Book, 1951.

I think the Angel's Kiss was mentioned by Agatha Christie in a Tommy & Tuppence mystery ('The Crackler'), along with the Horse's Neck.

#65 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 09:33 PM:

Trade paperbacks are often (not always) printed on better quality paper than mass market paperbacks. They will last longer on your shelves. I have a mass market copy of Gibson's Count Zero that I bought as soon as it came into print. The pages are now yellowish brown and brittle.

I don't count the trade paperback-sized MMPBs that are sold in grocery stores and drugstores. I think this became widespread with Harry Potter because the longer volumes of the series were too unwieldy for handy regular-sized MMPBs without making the type face unreadably small.

#66 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2013, 08:49 AM:

Lee @61--I'm not sure the non-drinking is an issue here; I know plenty of people who do drink but who don't believe this until they sit down and look at the numbers. 7:1 just looks like it must have more booze in it than 5:1. I've even seen bartenders thrown off by it, until they're reminded they use the same amount of the base liquor as usual.

#67 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2013, 11:10 AM:

I buy trade paperbacks by preference. Typeface is larger than MMPB, and I hate using my reading glasses for more than the newspaper and instruction manuals. Trade paperbacks stay open more easily, which is important to me, as one of my prime times for reading is while I am eating. Extra sauce: they have thinner bindings than hardcovers, so take up less shelf space.

I'm slowly--very slowly--trying to shrink my MMPB collection by replacing them with either HC or trade. It's now gotten to the point for me that if something new doesn't come out in HC or trade, I'll get the ebook instead of the MMPB.

#68 ::: Carrie V. ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2013, 12:42 PM:

Delurking to say that I, too, have a bottle of Creme de Violette! We have been making Aviations -- dangerously yummy.

To anyone in the Denver area: Golden Moon Distillery makes Creme de Violette. They have a booth at the Golden Farmer's Market, where they will happily sell you a bottle. They also do gin, grappa, absinthe, and a couple of others I can't remember at the moment...

#69 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2013, 12:49 PM:

joann @67 -- watch out for the occasional book where the typeface is smaller in the hardback than in the MMPB (Elizabeth A. Lynn's The Sardonyx Net springs to mind as an example).

#70 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2013, 03:41 PM:

And... Boker's Bitters is commercially available since 2009 (though currently out of stock).

#71 ::: Stan Tontas ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2013, 04:19 PM:

Love that there's a thing called Boker's Bitters. Here in Edinburgh, "to boke" (or boak) means vomit.

#72 ::: Tangurena ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2013, 04:47 PM:

Borders was clobbered by a combination of 4 factors:

1. They outsourced their website to Amazon until right before the end.
2. They had no e-reader.
3. If you went there in person, it was a card shop that sometimes sold books.
4. Their executive management didn't understand the business.

My suspicion is that the leadership at B&N has forgotten what happened to Borders and seems fit to min-max their quarterly profits into a corner that they won't be able to exit (except via chapters 7 or 11).

I'm a programmer, and about half of the dollar value of books I purchase each year are programming books. When my local tech book store closed, I started paying attention at my local B&N, Microcenter (a computer store chain like CompUSA used to be) and the local indie chain (Tattered Cover). All of them have drastically shrunk the computer section. My only choice has become Amazon: not for cheapness, not for variety; because there is no longer an alternative.

#73 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2013, 05:13 PM:

Tangurena, #72: I disagree with your third point. Up until after the closing of Borders was announced, the one in my neighborhood was my go-to for new releases, and also carried a fair amount of backlist on series books, so that if I bought one book and fell into it, I could go mainline all the others. My impression of the B&N that has replaced it is that it has more cards and tchotchkes than the Borders ever did, in about the same amount of space.

#74 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2013, 10:44 PM:

I remember getting a very strange look from Canadian Border Services people after a business trip to Ann Arbor. I came back with well over the duty free limit, all in books from Borders. This was in the old days, around 1988. I think that Borders had not yet become a chain.

#75 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2013, 11:19 PM:

Somehow I failed to realize that a thread called "Naughty Little Booze Hound" would be someplace where I needed to refute the "Thor Power Tools" myth. What on earth was I thinking?

People: The idea that publishing, and the ability to keep the backlist in print, was utterly transformed by a case called Thor Power Tools...is BS. Widely-circulated, endlessly-repeated BS. BS that many very intelligent people have believed, because it was being repeated by other intelligent people. And yet: BS.

As a well-known and well-liked SF publisher of my acquaintance observed many years ago, "Publishing accountants found their way around that particular ruling in about six hours flat."

The legend has persisted because (1) SF is full of people who passionately want to believe that everything bad in the world is the fault of wicked Federal tax policy and (2) publishers love to have something external to blame when explaining to $AUTHOR why they aren't in a hurry to reissue $UNDISTINGUISHED-BACKLIST-TITLE. That's the long and short of it.

We keep lots of low-velocity backlist titles in print, some for decades. Thor Power Tools does nothing to discourage us from doing so.

Really. Don't believe everything you're told. Really.

#76 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2013, 11:51 PM:

Patrick, I suggest following that debunking with a drink. It'd be appropriate to the thread. It doesn't even need to be an obscure early cocktail.

#77 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2013, 11:53 PM:

72/73
Borders was good about keeping their tchotchkes in a limited area of the store. It was mostly books right up to the end - and I miss it. Mine had a small downstairs section, which was bestsellers, new books and some videos, sale books, magazines, tchotchkes, and their coffee area. Everything else was upstairs, in a much larger space. It was well lit, and without the dark wood paneling that seems to be B&N's idea of 'place for books'.

#78 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2013, 12:33 AM:

Kevin Riggle @22: What did you eventually do with the two liters of Brennevin, then?

#79 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2013, 12:35 AM:

These days there isn't much difference between hardbacks and large-format paperbacks, is there? My impression is that the binding is the same (pages glued in, not sewn), the paper is the same, the page size is the same. Or am I missing some fundamental differences in printing or binding?

#80 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2013, 01:03 AM:

Given the choice between a hardback book with a glued spine (like most hardback books these days) and exactly the same text block in paper covers (so, from the buyer's point of view, a trade paperback), I will generally take the paper covers.

Why?

Because the hardback binding has "squares"—the small edge of cover all around the text block. This means that when book is sitting on the shelf, the text block is held up in the air by the shape of the binding. But gravity is ever with us, and over time, the fore edge (the edge of the book block opposite the spine) is slowly dragged downward. This pulls the head of the spine out of shape, weakening the whole structure.

Meanwhile, since paperbacks have no squares, the whole bottom of the book block rests on the shelf.

Usually, the difference is trivial. Paper chemistry and the vagaries of real life doom books long before this kind of spine decay matters. But I notice, and it bugs me.

#81 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2013, 01:11 AM:

PNH @75:

The legend has persisted because (1) SF is full of people who passionately want to believe that everything bad in the world is the fault of wicked Federal tax policy and (2) publishers love to have something external to blame when explaining to $AUTHOR why they aren't in a hurry to reissue $UNDISTINGUISHED-BACKLIST-TITLE.

You mean an industry full of comic-book fans doesn't perpetuate the legend because (3) that's just an awesome case name to sneak into an otherwise ordinary business conversation?

I am disappoint.

#82 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2013, 01:24 AM:

PNH @75

Different tax and legal systems, but what I know of depreciation never seemed to fit with the legend of Thor. And, given what big business can arrange in US laws, why wouldn't there have been a change in the law if it was so harmful to business.

But different laws, etc. So I kept quiet.

#83 ::: khavrinen ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2013, 07:32 AM:

"Measurements are helpfully provided in [...] gills [...]. "

For people who drink like a fish?

#84 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2013, 08:51 AM:

A probably-ignorant question about book bindings: I was under the impression that what made a trade paperback a trade paperback was that it was a sewn, rather than glued, binding. (I also always assumed that the name came from this being a common format for trade reference books, like mechanic's and machinist's manuals.)

abi @ 80 would indicate that a glue-bound book can be a trade paperback; in that case, what makes it a "trade" (rather than "regular") paperback?

#85 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2013, 09:33 AM:

Jim MacDonald @ 70

For a slightly more local source of Boker's Bitters. I hope to try them some day.

#86 ::: Peter S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2013, 09:45 AM:

I remember when B&N and Borders first opened their big bookstores. They were competing with independent bookstores, and it seemed to me that they stocked nearly every book in print then, and were clearly superior to most independent bookstores in that way. Now, most of the independent bookstores have gone, and I suspect that some corporate beancounter has decided that it's more profitable per square foot to stock toys rather than books that don't sell very many copies.

The number of businesses that have been killed by corporate beancounters who can't see past the immediate bottom line ...

#87 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2013, 10:31 AM:

No, the distinction between "trade paperback" and "mass market paperback" is based on how the books are sold. Hardbacks and trade paperbacks were traditionally sold in bookstores and unsold copies were returned to the publisher for credit. Mass market paperbacks were traditionally sold in non-bookstore outlets — basically anywhere you'd find a magazine rack — and unsold copies were destroyed, just like with magazines, with just the cover returned to the publisher. I suspect that "trade" refers to the bookseller's trade.

Conceptually this is unrelated to whether it's a large or a small paperback, and in principle I don't think you can tell whether a book is trade or mass market by looking at it. In practice small format paperbacks were traditionally mass market and I think most still are, and large format paperbacks were traditionally trade.

(Are there any large format mass market paperbacks? I suppose my guess would be yes, just because it's a complicated world out there and most rules have exceptions, but I can't name any concrete examples. I bet some people here could.)

#88 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2013, 10:39 AM:

SamChevre, #84: IMSGO*, it's a trade paperback if it's too large to fit on my sized-for-MMPB bookcases but not a hardcover. On LibraryThing, that tag tells me I have to look for it in a different place.

* In My Slightly Grumpy Opinion

#89 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2013, 12:07 AM:

elise @78: Why, we drank them, of course! Slowly, and with a certain amount of "oh, you've got to try this stuff!" whenever somebody new visited -- which usually resulted in the unfortunate party taking a single sip, making a face, and then making one of us finish the shot for them.

We asked the Icelanders what kind of drinks they made with the stuff. "Drinks?" they said. "I mean, we just... drink it. Maybe with a bit of milk or something."

So I took it upon myself to come up with recipes. It pairs surprisingly well with tonic, or most other places you'd use gin. This was the best thing I came up with, though:

In a tumbler with ice, combine:

* 1 Tbsp granulated white sugar
* 1 shot Brennevin
* 1/2 shot heavy cream
* milk to fill

Stir.

I don't know what it's called, but it's basically the liquid form of caraway ice cream, and I think it's delicious.

TexAnne @35: Thankfully Boston is close to more favorable tax jurisdictions, so if you have a car the New Hampshire state-run liquor stores are about an hour away.

It's good to bring mixers as well, as exotic liquors often want out-of-the-ordinary accompaniment. I'd bring a bottle of good rye and Manhattan makings.

#90 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2013, 08:41 PM:

Kevin @#89

In Canada, it's technically illegal to transport beverage alcohol between provinces without lots of paperwork. This is occasionally enforced for truck load lots, but I have not heard of individuals being stopped.

Does the US have an enviable freedom from such Prohibition leftovers?

#91 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2013, 09:04 PM:

Henry Troup @90, I'm not a lawyer, but I've heard that it's illegal to bring alcohol or cigarettes across state lines. This is so that each state benefits from their own tax stamps, apparently.

I've never heard of anyone being hassled for bringing a bottle or two as a gift for a friend, or a carton for their own use, but I expect it would be a different matter if they loaded up the trunk of their car. Especially if they went from a low-tax state to a high-tax state.

#92 ::: linnen ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2013, 09:18 PM:

I read 'Clover Club' and I thought didn't Hatsune Miku do a song about that?

Then I replayed a youtube video and ,yup, they did. And gave instructions as to make the cocktail.
Clover Club

#93 ::: linnen been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2013, 09:22 PM:

I'd play the pipes Major but the gnomes would most likely lock my post away.

#94 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2013, 11:47 PM:

I don't know anything about the legality of it, but it's common practice around here, and I've never heard of anyone hassled for it. Reselling, that would be a problem, but driving up on the weekend to restock your wine collection is what the "use tax" section on the state income tax form is for.

#95 ::: Kevin Riggle has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2013, 11:48 PM:

Fancy a wee dram? Laphroig, if you like.

#96 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2013, 12:26 AM:

Henry Troup @90: US "freedom" from Prohibition leftovers? Why, we invented Prohibition leftovers. We will even put up Prohibition leftovers as take-out. With pickle and side of gangster.

(Canada didn't have Prohibition. Make of that what you will.)

#97 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2013, 02:39 AM:

Thank you, linnen @92. I'm sharing that.

#98 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2013, 03:47 AM:

@90 Henry Troup

In Canada, it's technically illegal to transport beverage alcohol between provinces without lots of paperwork. This is occasionally enforced for truck load lots, but I have not heard of individuals being stopped.

As of last summer, that no longer applies to wine for personal use (see Bill C-311). Not sure why it gets to be special...

#99 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2013, 09:26 AM:

Cheryl @98--That's probably a deal arranged to benefit winemakers, so as to encourage local industry. Wine, for some reason, is seen as much less threatening than spirits, and generally travels in smaller quantities than beer, at least in North America.

#100 ::: Ken Josenhans ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2013, 12:10 PM:

Tanguerena in #72 :: having an e-reader turns out to have been a boat anchor for Barnes & Noble. Probably due to the rise of the general purpose 7-inch table, the Nook division of B&N lost something like half a billion dollars.

#101 ::: Johan Larson ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2013, 05:05 AM:

Centilitres? That's a first.

It's not actually wrong, but for liquids in the range from tablespoons to cups, millilitres are the usual measure in metric.

#102 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2013, 06:01 PM:

D. Potter @96

Canada didn’t have full-on prohibition, I concede. It does have a long history of temperance laws, most, as usual, case studies in unintended results.

Ontario has a provincial semi-monopoly liquor vendor, for example. The premier of B.C. was reported trying to lobby her fellow premiers for full free trade in wine, this week.

Once, in living memory, the LCBO (liquor control board of Ontario) had a remarkable system requiring a passbook to purchase beverage alcohol. Just like Dubai!

#103 ::: Thomas Lumley ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2013, 02:16 AM:

Johan Larson #101: decilitres (or, more likely, deciliters) are used in US biomedicine -- concentrations are given in mg/dl or ug/dl. The rest of the world uses the SI standard moles/litre.

#104 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2013, 03:49 AM:

On measurement: the SI standard is to use the thousandfold multipliers. So centiliter and deciliter are frowned on, millilitre should be used. It means that some metric units, such as the Hectare, are not SI, but they still get used. It's a land measure, and it's awkwardly large for some purposes, but it uses one of the odd scaling prefixes which exist between kilo- and milli-

centiliters are, like the centimeter, units of a size we are comfortable with. The centimeter is the same sort of size as the width of a finger, and the centiliter is a small tablespoon.

#105 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2013, 05:28 AM:

"Not just the book I was looking for. The book I wasn’t looking for, but knew, the minute I saw it, that I had to have it."

This of course is the Great Art in bookselling.

#106 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2013, 10:21 AM:

Doug (105): See also the Perfect Present: just what you always wanted but didn't know existed.

#107 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2013, 09:52 PM:

Mary Aileen @106: Unlike the Present Perfect, which is just what you are always wanting but not knowing the existence of.

#108 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2013, 02:01 AM:

Henry Troup@90, back in the 70s, when I was learning to drive and later using the AAA tour books for driving across country to go to grad school, most US states had rules about how much alcohol you could bring with you across state lines. It was typically about 2-4 bottles of liquor or a case or two of beer (I forget whether the wine limits were more like liquor or beer.) (Definitely a Prohibition leftover, since except for the 21st Amendment, the Constitution prohibits state limits on interstate commerce.)

Even today, lots of states have rules about having to use quasi-oligopoly licensed distributors to sell various kinds of alcohol, so you can't just order bottles of wine from California by mail or get your local liquor store to carry it if you're in a state where the distributors don't want to bother.

#109 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2013, 11:02 AM:

Kevin Riggle @107 -- also not to be confused with the Past Perfect, which is what you had been wanting a while ago; or the Future Perfect, which will have included flying cars. (Small joke for those who have studied Latin.)

#110 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2013, 03:41 PM:

Oddly, booze in Europe is almost always sold in cl, not ml.

So my glasses that have 50cl markings on them; the bottles of whatever that are 75cl, and so on. I remember being tweaked by that the first time I saw it, but it slots into place quite nicely.

Having said *that*, it makes sense that metric measures for a cocktail book are in cl. But I've yet to see shot glasses/measuring spoons in cl - although I'm sure they exist!

#111 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2013, 08:15 PM:

Ok, this feels like a silly question, but I have to ask: in recipes that use egg whites, should I assume the alcoholic ingredients help negate the salmonella potential of raw eggs?

I'm not personally too worried about it, but I know I have some friends who would be concerned, and I'd like to offer them some assurance beyond "I assume it's fine!" I know salmonella risk from raw eggs is overestimated to begin with, but some people don't find that too comforting.

Also, has anyone here who makes egg-white-based cocktails fooled around with normal egg whites in a carton, or pasteurized egg whites? The articles I read seem to think that's do-able but less than ideal. If anyone has done any real world taste tests, I'd love to hear about it.

#112 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2013, 03:02 AM:

Mycroft @110

I have a set of measuring spoons/cups marked in milliliters.

A standard teaspoon measure, in the UK, is 5ml.

10 ml is 1 cl

My jugs and scales and stuff are all marked in those awkwardly small metric units, grams and milliliters. How often does a cook need to care about the difference between 48g and 50g? How consistent is the weight and composition of an egg? What's the moisture content of your flour?

Don't get hung up on the apparent precision of the metric measurements in a cookbook. Just because yoiu can measure to the nearest gram doesn't mean you have to.

#113 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2013, 05:09 AM:

New Zealand tablespoons are 15ml
Australian tablespoons are 20ml.

It's fairly important to check the 'weights and measures' section of your cookbook in NZ!

#114 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2013, 09:34 AM:

Leah Miller @ 111

I don't know any literature other than the study on spiked eggnog, finding that the Salmonella died eventually.

However, a very-heavily-egged whiskey sour [1] still has 16% alcohol [2]; I would expect that to be fairly safe from a bacterial-growth perspective.

Rehydrated egg white powder, and whippable egg whites from a carton, both seem to work from what I've read, but I don't have any first-hand experience.

[1]2 parts whiskey, 1 part each sugar syrup, lemon juice, and egg white [3]
[2] Assuming you shake it first without ice, which is standard
[3]I'd use less than 1/4 that much egg white, and 3 parts whiskey rather than 2

#115 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2013, 09:47 AM:

%16 alcohol isn't enough to sanitize anything. Alcohol needs to be around 70% (aka rubbing alcohol) in order to kill bacteria, and it's not on contact, either; alcohol needs time to pickle the bugs.

#116 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2013, 12:53 PM:

Dave Bell @112: Well, I'm Canadian, so officially metric (but not always SI). And I have 15ml Tablespoons and 250ml cups as well.

We know 355ml cans/bottles very well, and 454g butter sticks, of course.

But I only see cl markings on European alcohol. Having said that, that's the only European liquids I ever buy.

And yes, I don't get hung up on apparent precision - my first course in Engineering was "precision and accuracy in measurements", and unlike some of my colleagues who were still specifying 14.5876V on the output, I listened. But it's a good thing to remind everyone (having said that, my engineering sense says "it's 1.0oz, not 1oz - I can't afford to be *that* far off").

#117 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2013, 01:21 PM:

Ginger, #115: Ah. I am guessing, then, that the story I read which suggested that cutting "field and stream" water 4-to-1 with cheap wine would render it safe to drink is inaccurate?

#118 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2013, 01:46 PM:

Lee@117: For sanitization, you can't beat boiling: it kills everything. After that, if you want to water your cheap wine, then have at it. I prefer shandy, but I like spoiling my lemonade with cheap beer.

#119 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 09:00 PM:

Lee @117: I seem to recall reading something about that not too long ago, though I can't find the link. IIRC, a study found that cutting dubious water with cheap wine (the cheaper the better) did kill bacteria - but that some component other than the alcohol did the work.

#120 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 10:38 PM:

Mary Aileen #106, Kevin Riggle #107, Tom Whitmore #109: <snicker>

Leah Miller #111: You can also get free-range eggs, which I'm pretty sure cuts the risk substantially. Ideally from a local farm, if you have such near you.

Ginger #115: Chris #119: Remember, wine's potency is generally limited by fungal toxins. (That is, the yeast feeds and reproduces until it chokes itself off. You can pick yeasts with different tolerances, but AIUI they don't go much above 13%.) I am unsurprised there would be antibacterial stuff in there.

Tangent: Honey has similar antibacterial properties; there I suspect that the bees are concentrating plant antibacterials, intended to protect the original nectar. (Possibly some added by the bees.)

#121 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 11:12 PM:

120
I'd heard that a lot of honey's antibacteria properties had to do with it being 80% sugar: bacteria osmose to death.

#122 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 11:50 AM:

P J Evans #121: I don't think so... the accounts I heard (too long ago for citation) were specific that it was still antibacterial even when diluted.

#123 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 02:48 PM:

Dave Harmon, P J Evans, a quick googling turns up a claim that it's a protein* with the unimaginative name "defensin-1" that gives honey its antibacterial properties

*Technically an anti-microbial peptide

#124 ::: Peter S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 06:33 PM:

And honey's anti-bacterial properties are not perfect. You should not feed raw honey to infants under one year or immune-suppressed people, because it can contain botulism bacteria (which are taken care of by the immune system for the rest of us).

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