What It Means When You Buy a Signed Cookbook

July 19, 2016

Amanda and Merrill, our fearless co-founders and authors of this fall's hottest book on cooking ahead, report on their strategies for signing 191 pounds of book pages.

When 10,000 pieces of heavy paper arrive at your door, all to be signed within the next 5 weeks, naturally the first phase is denial. So they sat patiently in their boxes as we diligently ignored them for an entire week.

Tip-ins staring at us staring at them.

Our tip-ins, as they're called, were designed as pages in our book for the copies in our Shop. We needed to get them signed now and shipped to China, so they could be collated and bound with the rest of the book as it's printed. Pretty cool, no? We thought so, until we realized our enthusiasm had won out over rational decision making. Bookplates—the stickers added into a book once it's finished being produced—started looking really good right about now.

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When we were finally ready to face matters, the next step was to assess the size of the project in front of us.

Merrill timed herself and determined that she could sign 15 tip-ins a minute (more if she was just signing her name and wasn't writing the "&" as well). At this rate, it would take each of us about 11 hours total. (It turned out to take at least double this.)

One of the many optimal positions for signing.

Signing is a mindless task and over the 5 weeks, our team got used to us arriving for meetings with a giant stack of tip-ins in tow.

New-school Skype, meet old-school signing.

In order to get them all done, we had to take home piles of tip-ins to sign during the evenings and on the weekends. Transportation was a challenge. The paper is thicker than printer paper, so even a stack of 100 sheets is very heavy! Adam, our office assistant, did some research and discovered these carriers at the Container Store, which we used to ferry 5-pound stacks back and forth.

Merrill's "briefcase."

Over the 5 weeks, we signed while...

...watching tennis the car
...waiting for our kids to get ready,...
...and fortifying ourselves (we were living on the edge with these juicy strawberries!)

Amanda went to Florida in the middle of it all, so we shipped 100+ pounds of tip-ins to Sarasota.

There, her mom made her lunch so she could eat while signing.

And she roped her son, Walker, into moving the pages for her.

Tip-ins were signed in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Long Beach Island, Long Island, and Sarasota. We went through many pens, cocktails, snacks, and rolls of packing tape. And, miraculously, two days ahead of schedule, we shipped them off to Ten Speed in California for a short layover on their way to the printer in China.

We hope you'll get one of the 10,000 signed copies, and know that, like the book itself, it was all done with TLC.

—Amanda & Merrill

Signed copies of A&M's book, A New Way to Dinner, are available right here.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • pierino
  • Hannah Wilken
    Hannah Wilken
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


pierino July 19, 2016
I'm well familiar with tip ins from my years in the biz. Most folks I think assume that you sign each physical book. In real life that mostly happens at author appearances for with very small print runs. BTW I see that one of the pens you use is my always at hand Uniball Signo. I own some expensive pens but I save those for special occasions when I want to show off.
Hannah W. July 19, 2016
Love the video of you and Walker, Amanda!!