Julia Child Book Sales Sizzle After 'Julie & Julia' Movie

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Amy Adams, right, stars as Julie Powell in the film "Julie & Julia." The movie -- about Child, left, played by Meryl Streep, and Powell, the blogger who tried to cook all her recipes -- has inspired new fans to send copies of Child's seminal "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and her autobiography, "My Life in France," flying off of store shelves.

Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon will likely debut on more and more dinner tables long bereft of the culinary legend's French cuisine recipes. And booksellers -- not to mention Child's charity -- couldn't be happier.

Seeing the film "Julie & Julia" -- about Child, played by Meryl Streep, and the blogger who tried to cook all 524 recipes in Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" -- has stirred legions of new fans to send copies of Child's seminal culinary tome and related books flying off store shelves.

"Mastering the Art of French Cooking," which was co-authored by Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck and first published in 1961, and now in its 49th printing, shot to the No. 1 spot on Amazon.com's list of Top 100 best-sellers over the weekend and held the top spot on Barnes & Noble's online best-seller list Tuesday.

"She seemed much more real to me after I saw the movie," said James Kittredge, 29, who plans to buy Child's memoir, "My Life in France."

The Arizona man already owns "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" -- an old edition passed on by his parents -- but the film, he said, inspired him to take a new interest in its recipes, including that now-famous beef dish.

In the film, he said, "the food just looked so beautiful."

In the week ending on Aug. 9 -- the movie's opening was Aug. 7 -- 11,000 copies of "Mastering" were sold while sales for "My Life in France", which was co-written with Alex Prud'Homme, totaled 25,000, according to data released this morning by Nielsen BookScan. "My Life" now ranks at No. 5 on BookScan's list of top ten selling adult nonfiction books.

To keep up with demand, the publisher Random House has ordered three new printings of the hardcover cookbook in the last three weeks as well as new printings of "My Life" and the cookbook "Julia's Kitchen Wisdom," for a total of about a million books.

Royalties from book sales will go to the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, which supports culinary education programs and scholarships, among other causes. Since Child's death in 2004, the foundation has accrued roughly $250,000 in royalties but the spike in book sales should mean a new windfall for the group.

Foundation coordinator Susy Davidson, who met Child in France some 30 years ago, said she's thrilled not just with the prospect of more revenues, but with the "breathtaking" idea that more people will be following Child's advice on cooking.

"The numbers would say that people sense relevance in their own lives now," she said.

'Food Coma' Fans Drawn to Child's Cookbook

Sales of both "Mastering" and "My Life" still pale in comparison to that of blogger Julie Powell's "Julie & Julia," the best-seller that inspired the film. According to BookScan, 42,000 copies of "Julie & Julia," published by Little Brown, were sold last week.

But neither "Julie & Julia" nor "My Life" seem to be able to match the lighting-fast sales growth rate of "Mastering." Sales of "Mastering" jumped more than 300 percent in a week, according to BookScan data. It now outranks "Julie & Julia" on both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble's best-seller lists.

Seeing Child's dishes on celluloid and the pivotal role that "Mastering" itself played in the movie's plot -- viewers watch Child, as played by Streep, actually developing the 700-page opus -- may well be what ultimately whet the public's appetite for the book.

"People flocked to movie theaters this weekend to watch Meryl Streep as Child and they left in a virtual food coma," Amazon.com senior books editor Brad Parsons said in an e-mail.

"Hopefully it means that people were enthralled by the story of how 'Mastering' came to be and have respect for the process that it took to make 'Mastering,'" Davidson said. "They're not going to buy it and just look at it but buy it and use it, which I know would make Julia enormously happy."

Random House said it worked closely with Sony Pictures, the studio behind "Julie & Julia," on promotional efforts, as publishers and movie studios often do on films based on with literary works.

Random House spokesman Paul Bogaards said that generally such synergy forms a "happy relationship," but this one, in particular, was unique.

It was, after all, a "film about the making of a cookbook."