Cooking for Geeks Anniversary Contest

Though it’s a little hard to believe, Jeff Potter pointed out to me that today marks the one-year anniversary of the publication of his book, Cooking for Geeks (which I edited). To commemorate the occasion, I’ll be running a contest throughout the day, based on BookScan data I’ve collected for the past 52 weeks. The questions will involve demographic details of point-of-sale purchases of the book in the United States, not the book’s content. For example, which geographic region bought the most copies of the book? Urban or rural? Did your city buy more copies than mine?

Because it’s not as fun to see everyone’s answers in the comments, I’m going to conduct the contest on Twitter, though I’ll use this post for the questions, because it gives me a little more room to breathe. Here’s how it will work: for each question I ask (in a tweet) the first person to follow me on Twitter (so I can DM you) and reply (on Twitter, not on this post) with the correct answer gets a free copy of the book. Make sense?

Stay tuned. The first question will be revealed presently …


We’ll start off with a simple one:

Rank unit sales by population density (city, suburb, rural), from highest to lowest:

Congrats to Daniel for getting this one right first. I’ll DM you for your address.


Second question:

Identify the geographical region that produced the most book sales (at 25%):


Congrats to Elaine, and I hope your gift recipient likes the book. And thanks to everyone who has entered, many of whom got this one right. I’m going to need to make the next one harder…


I hope this one is a little harder to answer.

Of the 99 cities tracked, the top 5 account for 35% of total sales. Name them, in any order.

I’m going to give this one to gendalia, who identified three of the five, as well as answering both other questions correctly.


Okay, last one:

Explain, to my satisfaction, the three peaks in this sales graph for the past 52 weeks (click to see the dates more clearly):

I’m so gratified to learn that people remembered Jeff Potter’s appearance on Science Friday with Ira Flatow, which indeed did give a bump for the book. My two winners came close enough to capturing the peaks (as close as they could have come), without knowing what I know, so here are the winning responses:

@arballusc: Q: release date; NPR interview, Christmas

@jonovate Augu 8 week = Release & NPR, Sep 8 week = Slashdot, December 12-ish = Geekmom contest?

The part of the story these responses miss is that Jeff’s appearance on Science Friday occurred during the first week of the book’s release, which did give a good initial bump for the book. It gave such a big bump, in fact, that we ran out of stock and couldn’t fulfill all of our orders. So, that explains the drop immediately following the first bump: we didn’t print enough copies to satisfy the demand. The second bump merely represents the time we reprinted the book and it became available again, at which point all of the back orders were fulfilled. The third big bump was aided by Slashdot and Geekmom, but it really shows the Christmas bump: Cooking for Geeks made a great stocking stuffer.

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