Episode 31: Me Eat Pretty Some Day with Matthew Amster-Burton


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Matthew Amster-Burton is a food writer and host of the podcast Spilled Milk. Matthew has a particular affinity for Japanese food, and that led to a trip to that country he’d promised to his daughter, Iris, who stars in his book Hungry Monkey. Their trip led to a second visit to Japan with Matthew’s wife and Iris’s mom Laurie, and to a second book, Pretty Good Number One, about eating in Tokyo. He talks about the perils of publishing with a large firm and on his own, and how he’s navigated the maze of electronic book production.

Matthew on Twitter: @mamster

Show notes

Gourmet shut down in 2009 after nearly 70 years in operation. Editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl moved on to other pursuits. Physical colleges may have some of their business model threatend by MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses.

Molly Wizenberg is a well-known food writer and memoirist, and Matthew’s Spilled Milk co-host. Her first book was A Homemade Life; her second, Delancey, is upcoming.

American teriyaki isn’t the same as Japanese. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a film about the proprietor of a subway sushi restaurant which is thought to be one of the best. Tampopo is an interleaved, stylized film about life in Japan that is both a comedy and an homage to food and sex. It features ramen in the main storyline.

Robert Boynton’s The New New Journalism is a selection of interviews with the best practitioners of narrative non-fiction writing that gives some insight into the amount of time it takes to write these kinds of deep tales. I said Erin Brokovich‘s case was discussed in the book, but it was really what Matthew said: A Civil Action, Jonathan Harr’s book about Woburn, Massachussetts, water contamination. Harr spent 7 1/2 years researching the book.

Matthew mentioned APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawawsaki and Shawn Welch as a great bible to navigating the publishing world. EPUB is a reflowable ebook format: it’s HTML with extra pieces designed specifically for ereaders.

Serenity Caldwell described Macworld’s EPUB production process at the Çingleton Deux conference; watch the video of her talk. Apple’s Pages program (for Macintosh) produces very reasonable output into PDF, EPUB, and other formats. Sigil is an EPUB editing tool. Greasemonkey lets you override HTML and other code on Web pages you visit for local display.

My dad and I run Books & Writers, a book rank-tracking service. Amazon’s AuthorCentral lets authors identify (and confirm) that they wrote specific books and then get sales information about them. Musicians in some cases have the right to reclaim copyright that was transferred 35 or 54 years previously.