Food Writing

Nick Kokonas Discusses Next’s Pay-What-You-Want e-Book

Nick Kokonas and Grant Achatz
Nick Kokonas and Grant Achatz

From the very beginning, we knew that part of the deal with Grant Achatz’s Next was that it would constantly evolve. Not only would the menu be abandoned every three months, but so would the cuisine, time period, and the whole dining experience. Last night was the final chance to check out Paris 1906, but luckily all the information won’t simply disappear. The restaurant documented every step of the first menu — including recipes, step by step pics, and commentary from the chefs — and will now release an e-book, which will be available as a pay-what-you-want download. We reached out to co-owner Nick Kokonas about the e-book, and he quickly got back to us with a few more details.

Kokonas cautioned that there may be “some issues” with getting the pay model to work on every platform. “There is a chance that we will partner with an e-book ‘company’ out of the gate,” he wrote to us in an e-mail, “then do the pay-what-you-want later on.” Still, he seemed genuinely excited about the project.

Below is the rest of the e-mail exchange:

Was this the plan from the very beginning of the restaurant’s opening?
We have toyed with the idea since before we opened but were not sure we would have the ‘bandwidth’ to pull it off. After reviewing the thousands of photos we took of the dishes and cooking process we realized that we learned a great deal after doing the Alinea book and that the documentation went well. So we have all of the recipes and shots finished and are putting together chef commentary and other writing — and laying it out swiftly.

Did either of you ever consider a hardcover book, or did you immediately start in the digital realm?
This does not rule out a hardcover book… but it is impossible (or nearly so) to put out a hardcover in a month or two. We felt that we wanted to document the menu in as close to real-time as possible while having the freedom to price it low.

Do you plan to do this for every menu, or do you plan to document each in a different way?
If this one goes well, then we will do it for future menus.

Nick Kokonas Discusses Next’s Pay-What-You-Want e-Book