Cheapest billionaire author

Nathan Myhrvold, a mad scientist/former Microsoft executive, has something of an interest in scientific approaches to cooking. His five-volume cookbook (plus a waterproof “Kitchen Manual”), Modernist Cuisine, describes the results of endless laboratory tests on how to really cook everything. I’ve flipped through this gargantuan tribute to one man’s obsession while visiting the Cookbook Store and am convinced it is worth the roughly $500 cover price.

In whose shadow sits the Cookbook Store? The Toronto Reference Library’s. Why shouldn’t the library own one or more copies of Modernist Cuisine? But for that to happen they’d need something like a 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 deal. After getting no response from Myhrvold, I foolishly contacted his publicist, Judy Wilson, who showed she couldn’t even read a plain-text E-mail when she responded with “we aren’t offering review/desk or discounted copies to institutional faculty or libraries. We hope, however, that you will consider purchasing a copy online…. It sounds like it would be an excellent investment for your library.” My library?

Not only is Myhrvold a patent troll, then, he’s cheap. I suppose that begins to explain how he became a billionaire.