'Superbook' publishers grow fat as Blumenthal becomes latest star to release a £1,000 tome

Anyone tucking into Heston Blumenthal's famous snail porridge or pommery grain mustard ice cream at his Fat Duck restaurant can expect to spend serious cash. But buying the latest edition of his cookbook and having a go yourself will put an even more serious dent in your wallet.

For £1,000, you get a luxury leather-bound tome produced in association with the royal jeweller Asprey which includes two surprise "silver gifts".

Blumenthal is the latest celebrity to launch an elaborate, high-end publication carrying a price tag far beyond the reach of the average earner.

Despite the credit crunch, an entire industry has sprung up to cater to an increasing number of customers willing to spend thousands of pounds on luxury books from the shelves of the world's most exclusive shops.

Another example is The New York Book – a 16kg silk-bound volume depicting life in the city, which is sold only at Harrods in London or Barney's in Manhattan. Encased in a crystalline tower case, the limited edition, 700-page book costs £7,600. It is the third project by the publisher Gloria, which has already released a 12kg epic about the footballer Pelé and another about the gold-encrusted lives of superyacht owners. Gloria's customers, apart from yacht owners themselves, include professional footballers, City bankers and wealthy Arab collectors.

Many "superbooks" target wealthy sports enthusiasts – the kind who can afford a corporate box at a cup final. A luxury biography of the boxing legend Muhammad Ali, published last year by Taschen, featured four silver gelatine prints by the photographer Howard L Bingham, signed by Ali himself, and cost £5,000.

Some of the most expensive books are produced by Kraken Opus, which once specialised in sports titles but has branched out into luxury volumes. Its latest offering is a series of books produced with Vivienne Westwood, and it has just signed a deal with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to make a book about the Oscars.

Karl Fowler, the chief executive of Kraken Opus, said the key to turning a book into a lucrative investment opportunity was to keep the content exclusive.

"We produced a book with Formula 1 recently and the most exclusive edition, which was limited to just 100 books and costs £20,000, contained the signatures of all 19 F1 champions alive today," he said. "That had never been done before and the first 15 editions were immediately snapped up by a hedge fund.

"We are now paid by that hedge fund to store those books in humidified storage. They don't even want them delivered."

He is unconcerned about the credit crunch, saying many wealthy people now choose to put their money into so-called "passion investments" because they are safer than the stock market.

Expensive editions

*The New York Book

16kg silk-bound volume published by Gloria Books on the history, architecture and cultural life of the financial hub of New York. Most expensive edition costs £7,600, cheapest £1,200.

*Pelé

A 12kg tome on the Brazilian footballer was released in 2006. The 150 copies, which cost £4,000 and are signed by all surviving members of the 1970 World Cup-winning team, sold out in days. Copies were selling last year for £10,000.

*Manchester United Opus

The leather-bound book sold initially for £3,000 each. Last year, the 777th copy of the half-metre-squared book, signed by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, sold for £1.6m at a charity auction.

*Dancing with the Bear – Roger Shashoua, 'Oligarch Edition'

Last year, the British entrepreneur offered a diamond-encrusted version of his book – a tale of how he made a fortune in post-Soviet Russia – for £3m.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

art
Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

music
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer is believed to be playing a zombie wife in Patient Zero

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Gatiss says Benedict Cumberbatch oozes sex appeal with his 'Byronic looks' and Sherlock coat
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Clothing items bearing the badge have become popular among music aficionados
musicAuthorities rule 'clenched fist' logo cannot be copyrighted
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson will star in Seth MacFarlane's highly-anticipated Ted 2

film
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in 'Gone Girl'

film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
    Witches: A history of misogyny

    Witches: A history of misogyny

    The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
    Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
    'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style