Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

How Do You Feel About Buying and Using e-Cookbooks?


  • Please log in to reply
62 replies to this topic

#1 Bill Klapp

Bill Klapp
  • participating member
  • 845 posts
  • Location:Neive (CN), Italia

Posted 28 August 2013 - 01:15 AM

(Excuse me if this has been done before and I missed it.)  I have a feeling that the answers may break down along generational lines (I go back to the days before the Commodore 64, when all word processing was done on manual typewriters with carbon paper), but maybe not.  I ask because, since moving to Italy, buying books suddenly requires tactical decision-making.  I have schlepped and shipped a lot of books of all stripes to Italy over the years, and I now have a lifetime's collection of food and wine books assembled here.  The sheer lack of availability of English-language literature other than cookbooks more or less compelled my adoption of iBooks/Kindle books, and instant availability eliminates any sadness associated with the tactile joys of hard copy.  I do have the option of buying from Amazon UK, and the shipping cost is not prohibitive, but between a lousy exchange rate and shipping, it is not always my first choice.

 

My need for new cookbooks has dwindled, but giving up, say, a sauce-spattered copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 in favor of my iPad next to the stovetop is still not that appealing.  This post is occasioned by having pre-ordered, and received while I slept, the new edition of the Ruhlman and Polcyn Charcuterie book, simultaneously on three i-devices.  I am on the fence as to whether the "magic" of that little bit of technology will sustain me, or whether I will end up suffering buyer's remorse!  I have used my iPad many times to call up one-off recipes for things, and I like that fine.  I have also purchased food and wine books that are reading/reference in nature, rather than cookbooks, and I am good with those.  I also understand that I always have the option to print recipes  (if you have all of the right equipment) and cook from the hard copy, although that doesn't seem all that appealing or ecologically sound, especially if the e-cookbook is offering step-by-step illustrations or photos.  And lastly, I suppose, if you do not drop your tablet into your sous vide pot, a tablet screen  is easier to clean than a cookbook.

 

What sayeth this wise and august assembly of foodies about e-cookbooks?


Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

#2 Anna N

Anna N
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 6,405 posts
  • Location:Oakville, Ontario, Canada

Posted 28 August 2013 - 02:14 AM

I am of a generation that is not too far from yours (I can remember post-war rationing!). I LOVE ebooks.
A) I can adjust the font size for eyes that are not as sharp as they once were.
B) I already give up too much of my house to bookshelves
C) I can easily transport them on my twice yearly trips north
D) I can consult them even in the grocery store on my i-phone
E) So far I have had no disasters using my devices in the kitchen
F) Reading in bed is easier for me on a Kindle than trying to hold a large book
G) I can instantly have access to any new book provided it is available as an ebook

But I recognize the limitations

A) Not all ebooks are created equal. Some are very badly formatted
B) I can't easily lend a book
C) I can't find inexpensive used copies
D) Many of my most used books are not available in electronic format

Given time I am sure I could think of more pros and cons.
Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

"It either works fine or not, but what the heck. This is bread, not birth control." Susan of Wild Yeast blog
Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog
My 2004 eG Blog

#3 fvandrog

fvandrog
  • participating member
  • 77 posts

Posted 28 August 2013 - 04:43 AM

Post-war rationing? Heh, I guess I can consider myself young in this respect :cool: 

I have owned an e-ink eReader since 4 or 5 years and have at first reluctantly but soon with great enthusiasm purchased cookbooks. For sure the cookbooks with great color-full images will probably work better on an iPad or other full blown tablets, but my black-white (well, actually gray-scale)eReader is works great in the kitchen. If necessary I can always use Calibre on my PC to print a section, but I actually have seldom used that.

#4 weinoo

weinoo
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 6,541 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 28 August 2013 - 05:14 AM

Not a fan of the ebook cookbook.  I like my sauce-splattered things and prefer that the sauce doesn't splatter my iPad.


  • SobaAddict70 likes this
Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"
mweinstein@eGstaff.org
Tasty Travails - My Blog
My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs
Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

#5 liuzhou

liuzhou
  • participating member
  • 2,177 posts
  • Location:Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Posted 28 August 2013 - 05:37 AM

I, too, love my Kindle for reading in bed (or on the bus to work) and love the font resizing for my atrocious eyesight. It is great for reading reference material, but I never use it in the kitchen. But then I rarely work to cookbook recipes. I tend to read recipe books for information / inspiration, try to remember the key points then head for the kitchen and make something totally different.



#6 Syzygies

Syzygies
  • participating member
  • 269 posts

Posted 28 August 2013 - 05:42 AM

I live in two places, and I like to tape recipes to the cupboard over my butcher block, to scribble on and mark off ingredients as I work. Before eBooks, I scanned any recipe I cooked, to have either location and to print for marking up.

 

Certainly, the quality of eBooks is variable, and the price is set by publishers oblivious to these subtleties. And when the eBook price is so close to the physical book price that I sense gouging, I resist buying the book unless it is indispensable.

 

Even if one accepts blind greed, there is a computation they should be making: If I buy three times as many $10 books as $20 books, don't they make more money pricing eBooks at $10? I'd like to own pretty much every cookbook written. I show restraint on physical books because of space limitations, and I show restraint on eBooks because of pricing. (And, the Kindle's inability to create nested folders for organizing many books reminds me of the early days of personal computers; they're limiting their customers who collect, and I hope they come to their senses.)


Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"
Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

#7 GlorifiedRice

GlorifiedRice
  • participating member
  • 1,406 posts
  • Location:Philly Burbs

Posted 28 August 2013 - 06:57 AM

I am not into eBooks of any kind.

Its not tangible. Eventually internet things become obsolete and are "End Of Lifed"[sic] and one day Kindle will go
End of Life and the books will no longer work. Then you will be forced to buy the books again on another client.
You cant put eBooks on a bookshelf btw

Edited by GlorifiedRice, 28 August 2013 - 06:59 AM.

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

#8 HungryC

HungryC
  • participating member
  • 1,503 posts
  • Location:greater New Orleans

Posted 28 August 2013 - 07:07 AM

I'm a big ebook fan for reading, but still on the fence re: cookbooks.  Bought a few, haven't really used them.  I like to annotate, and I find it tedious to add notes to ebooks.  With a paper book, I can scribble all the important-to-me marginalia, quickly and easily, while cooking.  Less salt, more butter, doubled, halved, etc.  Inserting a note using a device with a virtual keyboard is still tedious to me--the two-finger, poke typing is inefficient.



#9 fvandrog

fvandrog
  • participating member
  • 77 posts

Posted 28 August 2013 - 07:15 AM

Eventually internet things become obsolete and are "End Of Lifed"[sic] and one day Kindle will go
End of Life and the books will no longer work.

That's why I limit my purchases to DRM free ebooks, or ebook where I can (and do) remove the DRM. Then format-shifting and archiving isn't a problem.

You cant put eBooks on a bookshelf btw

Not having to put them on a book shelf is one of the big advantages in my ball park (well, rather in my too small apartment).

#10 DiggingDogFarm

DiggingDogFarm
  • participating member
  • 1,052 posts
  • Location:Finger Lakes Region of New York State

Posted 28 August 2013 - 08:01 AM

I have a Kindle device but Kindle for PC or Kindle for Chrome as well Calibre are much more useful ecookbook tools.

The most frustrating thing about some ecookbooks is the publisher's failure to properly format for the Kindle.

I now have several hundred cookbooks in Kindle format, some good, some horribly bad.


~Martin
 
Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist and contrarian who questions everything!
 


#11 ruthcooks

ruthcooks
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,100 posts

Posted 28 August 2013 - 09:41 AM

I no longer read any kind of book on Kindle.  I like to flip through books to remind me of who's who in a novel, and that's almost impossible in a reader devise, plus I just love the feel of a book in my hands.  I like to  have my recipes on my computer so I can print off a recipe I am going to make. Then I can make notes of changes and transfer the changes back to the computer for next time.


Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

#12 maydd

maydd
  • participating member
  • 20 posts

Posted 28 August 2013 - 11:19 AM

I think a distinction needs to be made between reading and using e-cookbooks. On the one hand, the kindle/iPad is useful for reading (though I find it a bit tiring on the eyes), but then Apps in conjunction with iPad or other devices will surely become the preferred way to use recipes. I've seen a few good reviews on such Apps, e.g., "20 minute meals - Jamie Oliver"  (http://www.jamieoliver.com/apps/), but it would be far nicer to have a general purpose App, and then buy recipe bundles, than to buy an App per chef or type of cuisine. We're probably a long way from that ideal. With an App you have the computer power to convert units of measure, locate ingredients, generate shopping lists, etc, not to mention adding notes and sharing your own recipes with others - again, these are things that can be done, not necessarily existing functionality.



#13 Jaymes

Jaymes
  • participating member
  • 7,398 posts
  • Location:Houston, Texas

Posted 28 August 2013 - 12:44 PM

I doubt I would ever buy an ecookbook.  If there is a particular recipe I want to investigate with an eye toward making it, I'll look it up online.  But when I'm bored with my current kitchen endeavors and am looking for inspiration, I want to sit down with an actual book and leaf through it, jumping ahead, or back, as the mood suits.  Also, like others, I do a lot of scribbling in my books.

 

I buy other sorts of ebooks - novels, biographies, reference books, etc.  But have never even been tempted to buy an ecookbook.

 

Don't see that changing anytime soon.



#14 annabelle

annabelle
  • participating member
  • 1,957 posts
  • Location:Grand Lake o' the Cherokees, Oklahoma

Posted 28 August 2013 - 12:48 PM

I doubt I would ever buy an ecookbook.  If there is a particular recipe I want to investigate with an eye toward making it, I'll look it up online.  But when I'm bored with my current kitchen endeavors and am looking for inspiration, I want to sit down with an actual book and leaf through it, jumping ahead, or back, as the mood suits.  Also, like others, I do a lot of scribbling in my books.

 

I buy other sorts of ebooks - novels, biographies, reference books, etc.  But have never even been tempted to buy an ecookbook.

 

Don't see that changing anytime soon.

 

 

This is how I feel, as well Jaymes.  I also like to make notes in the margins of my cookbooks about changes I may have made or ingredients that I think are better reduced or left out or conversely added or increased.  It's possible to highlight sections and make notes in an ebook, but I don't see them as being practical for everyday use and I have never bought one.  I love my Kindle, but it is stuffed full of novels and reference books.



#15 Pam R

Pam R
  • manager
  • 6,839 posts
  • Location:Winnipeg, Canada

Posted 28 August 2013 - 12:59 PM

I don't mind ecookbooks.  On the rare occasion I find myself cooking from a cookbook, I generally copy the recipe onto a piece of paper to take into the kitchen -- I can do the same from an ebook.  

 

The one thing I LOVE about ecookbooks is the search function. If I'm looking for a specific recipe. it's much quicker (for me) than finding it in the index, assuming it's well indexed. 



#16 GlorifiedRice

GlorifiedRice
  • participating member
  • 1,406 posts
  • Location:Philly Burbs

Posted 28 August 2013 - 03:18 PM

You cant lay on your side in bed with an ebook, you always end up pushing a button and f****ng something up and having to find your way back.

I also dont use an iPod either and love CDs
Wawa Sizzli FTW!

#17 HungryC

HungryC
  • participating member
  • 1,503 posts
  • Location:greater New Orleans

Posted 28 August 2013 - 03:43 PM

You cant lay on your side in bed with an ebook, you always end up pushing a button and f****ng something up and having to find your way back.

I also dont use an iPod either and love CDs

Wha?  I use my iPad as an e-reader, and it has a nice little "lock aspect" switcheroo on the side, you can turn it sideways and the display stays vertically oriented.  I read, side-lying, nearly every evening.  Works fine on an ipad.



#18 annabelle

annabelle
  • participating member
  • 1,957 posts
  • Location:Grand Lake o' the Cherokees, Oklahoma

Posted 28 August 2013 - 05:00 PM

I read in bed all the time and never have this problem.  Under "Settings" there is a "Go to last page read" tab that will take you right back to where you were.



#19 fvandrog

fvandrog
  • participating member
  • 77 posts

Posted 28 August 2013 - 11:54 PM


 

I can scribble all the important-to-me marginalia, quickly and easily, while cooking.

 
 

I also like to make notes in the margins of my cookbooks about

 
 

Also, like others, I do a lot of scribbling in my books.

I can happily accept people disagreeing about the usefulness of cookingbooks in ebook format. But justifying the use of paper-books by invoking the sacrilege of writing in books will definitely keep me awake at night thinking of the sheer horror  :shock:  


Edited by fvandrog, 28 August 2013 - 11:54 PM.

  • liuzhou likes this

#20 Bill Klapp

Bill Klapp
  • participating member
  • 845 posts
  • Location:Neive (CN), Italia

Posted 29 August 2013 - 02:08 AM

I had that thought, too, sans horror, but those who point out that annotating an e-book is not worth the trouble make an excellent point. I would generate hard copy, do my annotating there and then put the used recipe in a loose- leaf notebook if worth saving.

Anna N, great pro-and-con list!

weinoo and maydd, I wonder if there would be any future in a splatter-proof, app-driven kitchen tablet...
Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

#21 maydd

maydd
  • participating member
  • 20 posts

Posted 29 August 2013 - 04:40 AM

I had that thought, too, sans horror, but those who point out that annotating an e-book is not worth the trouble make an excellent point. I would generate hard copy, do my annotating there and then put the used recipe in a loose- leaf notebook if worth saving.

Anna N, great pro-and-con list!

weinoo and maydd, I wonder if there would be any future in a splatter-proof, app-driven kitchen tablet...

 

At a price point of $50-$60, count me in ... we're getting there, slowly. Masochists may prefer a Siri-type voice interface, with a G. Ramsey sound-alike screaming orders at you, or maybe a slurring Keith Floyd exhorting you to get sloshed.



#22 nickrey

nickrey
  • society donor
  • 2,250 posts
  • Location:Sydney, Australia

Posted 29 August 2013 - 05:51 AM

With around 1000 cookbooks, I've run out of space to store more.

 

e-cookbooks cost less and take up no real estate.

 

If you're worried about damaging your e-reader, put it in a ziplock bag; problem solved.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog


#23 Bill Klapp

Bill Klapp
  • participating member
  • 845 posts
  • Location:Neive (CN), Italia

Posted 29 August 2013 - 05:52 AM

Maybe they could even bring back Julia, the Galloping Gourmet and even Jeff Smith, The Frugal Gourmet!


Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

#24 Edward J

Edward J
  • participating member
  • 1,197 posts

Posted 29 August 2013 - 07:49 AM

I understand the space contstraints and sympathize with those with limited shelf space.

 

But no, I won't be using e-books, haven't yet.

 

My collection of cookbooks is around 50, and it doesn't grow very much.  I'll thumb through books at the bookstore or take out books at the library.  I am snobbish and picky about buying cookbooks.  If recipie quantities are given in volume, I won't even look any further.  And I have a love/hate relationship with publishers, you see, printed on the back of the each book (and magazine)in Canada is a US$ price and a CDN $ price, the difference can be as much as 25%, and for the last 5 years the CDN $ has never been more than 8 cents below the US$.  This sounds like a good reason to buy e-books, but I hate buying something that doesn't exist.

 

A while back I recieved an I-pod from my kids.  Spent an obscene amount of time loading in music.  Did you know that with one touch of a computer key you can delete all your music?...................The I-pod is in a drawer somewhere....



#25 annabelle

annabelle
  • participating member
  • 1,957 posts
  • Location:Grand Lake o' the Cherokees, Oklahoma

Posted 29 August 2013 - 08:04 AM


 

I can scribble all the important-to-me marginalia, quickly and easily, while cooking.

 
 

>

I also like to make notes in the margins of my cookbooks about

 
 

Also, like others, I do a lot of scribbling in my books.

I can happily accept people disagreeing about the usefulness of cookingbooks in ebook format. But justifying the use of paper-books by invoking the sacrilege of writing in books will definitely keep me awake at night thinking of the sheer horror  :shock:  

 

 

To me, hand-written notes are a charming aspect of used books.  It tells me that the book has been loved and used enough by the previous owner to have been important enough to her to annotate.  I have my great-grandmother's handwritten notes in her one and only cookbook that are my only link to her as a living woman.  While my handwriting is not nearly as elegant, I can only hope my own children and future grandchildren will see this the same way in my heavily used and splattered books:  I cared enough to cook meals to please my family.



#26 GlorifiedRice

GlorifiedRice
  • participating member
  • 1,406 posts
  • Location:Philly Burbs

Posted 29 August 2013 - 08:58 AM

I just feel that eBooks, and iPods and stuff like this are killing this country and Jobs
Wawa Sizzli FTW!

#27 pastameshugana

pastameshugana
  • society donor
  • 406 posts

Posted 29 August 2013 - 09:13 AM

What a great thread so far. Here's my $0.02 (depending on exchange rates).

 

I read quite a large amount in general (last year I purchased and completed more than 100 books through Amazon). Right there the ebook wins in the space/ease of use department. I travel a lot for work and taking my whole library with me (or just the handful I'm reading at the moment) is a huge boon.

 

On the other hand, there are some things I want to hold. I've got a collection of books about, written during, or related to the Holocaust (lots of family history there) and for some reason those are books I prefer on paper. I'm sure a therapist could read all kinds into that...

 

I've also got a small-ish collection of paper cook books that I like flipping through, but I've recently really enjoyed the digital (kindle via iPad) version of Jerusalem by Ottolenghi. It was great to have sudden inspiration on the road, pull into a grocery and pull up a recipe on the iPhone for an ingredient list (of which my grocer of course only carried 1/2 the items). :/

 

As to GlorifiedRice's comments regarding the EOL of digital devices - I think you're right with a caveat. The reality is that ebooks (and their ilk) are where we're heading. When my iPad/Kindle whatever gets to the point it's phased out, there will be an enterprising individual who will enable us to make the change, bringing our 'old' ebooks into the new digital ecosystem.

 

OTOH: Just watch environmental legislation over the next decade or so (about which I won't offer comment) and you're going to see the cost of paper going up with the availability falling. I can see a day when buying a paper book will be a decadent luxury (hopefully not in my lifetime) frowned upon by others.


PastaMeshugana
"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."
"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father
My eG Food Blog (2011)

#28 Jaymes

Jaymes
  • participating member
  • 7,398 posts
  • Location:Houston, Texas

Posted 29 August 2013 - 09:16 AM

 


 

I can scribble all the important-to-me marginalia, quickly and easily, while cooking.

 
 

&am

p;am

p;gt

;

I also like to make notes in the margins of my cookbooks about

lockquote>

 
 

>Also, like others, I do a lot of scribbling in my books.

I can happily accept people disagreeing about the usefulness of cookingbooks in ebook format. But justifying the use of paper-books by invoking the sacrilege of writing in books will definitely keep me awake at night thinking of the sheer horror  :shock: 

 

 

 

To me, hand-written notes are a charming aspect of used books.  It tells me that the book has been loved and used enough by the previous owner to have been important enough to her to annotate.  I have my great-grandmother's handwritten notes in her one and only cookbook that are my only link to her as a living woman.  While my handwriting is not nearly as elegant, I can only hope my own children and future grandchildren will see this the same way in my heavily used and splattered books:  I cared enough to cook meals to please my family.

 

 

 

And...

 

I don't buy cookbooks for the resale value.  I buy them to use them and to love them.  I not only make those notes for myself to remember that I did this or that in any particular recipe; I make the notes for my children and grandchildren.  I think that these personalized notes are what change any cookbook from just being some sterile hunk of paper and print into a living, breathing, individual thing. 

 

Besides, like so many of you here have said, actual print cookbooks are going to be going the way of the dinosaur before too much longer.  So what difference will it make if my books are full of splatters and scribbles when they hit some future trash bin or compost heap.

 

None whatsoever.



#29 DiggingDogFarm

DiggingDogFarm
  • participating member
  • 1,052 posts
  • Location:Finger Lakes Region of New York State

Posted 29 August 2013 - 09:19 AM

I just feel that eBooks, and iPods and stuff like this are killing this country and Jobs

 

 

Don't worry, there will be plenty of 'green' jobs to make up for it!!!! :biggrin:

And think of all the trees it saves!!!!  :cool:


~Martin
 
Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist and contrarian who questions everything!
 


#30 Jaymes

Jaymes
  • participating member
  • 7,398 posts
  • Location:Houston, Texas

Posted 29 August 2013 - 09:25 AM

I just feel that eBooks, and iPods and stuff like this are killing this country and Jobs

 

 

Don't worry, there will be plenty of 'green' jobs to make up for it!!!! :biggrin:

And think of all the trees it saves!!!!  :cool:

 

Not to mention the fact that a great many folks (like my sons) are working in the industries that produce the "eBooks and iPods and stuff like this."

 

I mean, Holy Horseshoes, Batman!