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The Death of the Cookbook


adey73
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Just received two new titles (it's Feb and my commitment not to buy anymore books has gone out the window). Thierry Marx 'Planet Marx' hi end expensive professional tomb and Hot Chefs; Hip Cuisine (I know, I know I should have known better from that Godawful title).

Rapid obsolescence is a feature everywhere: Hot Chefs looks like it's on the beep machine struggling for breath, while the Marx book could give you a good wrestle, but I can hear the Darwinian clock ticking.

So when I wonder will the 1st entirely online (Alinea's is available hardcopy too) and updated version, like a software license, be available?

Has anyone heard if French Laundry Beta out soon?

“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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It will be interesting to see how this pans out over the next few years.

I personally love flipping through ccokbooks for inspiration, and also love the great photography in so many cookbooks now. I do read quite a bit and do food research online, but I'm "old school" about my cookbooks, even though I'm digi most everyplace else. It would also be hard to bring the desktop by the stove to follow a recipe! :raz:

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Just received two new titles (it's Feb and my commitment not to buy anymore books has gone out the window). Thierry Marx 'Planet Marx' hi end expensive professional tomb and Hot Chefs; Hip Cuisine (I know, I know I should have known better from that Godawful title).

Rapid obsolescence is a feature everywhere: Hot Chefs looks like it's on the beep machine struggling for breath, while the Marx book could give you a good wrestle, but I can hear the Darwinian clock ticking. 

So when I wonder will the 1st entirely online (Alinea's is available hardcopy too) and updated version, like a software license, be available?

Has anyone heard if French Laundry Beta out soon?

Nothing IMHO can give you the same experience as a real book. Sitting on the couch drinking some wine and flipping pages is an experience I cherish. It is not about efficiency or time-saving. I doubt the classic book will ever be obsolete because nothing can give you the same experience.

I am getting the Alinea hardcopy and looking forward to checkout the site, but the two are not mutually exclusive.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Nothing IMHO can give you the same experience as a real book. Sitting on the couch drinking some wine and flipping pages is an experience I cherish. It is not about efficiency or time-saving. I doubt the classic book will ever be obsolete because nothing can give you the same experience.

And, witness the pile of cookbooks on my nightstand, and on the floor beside my bed. My nod to technology is a mechanical pencil (don't need to find and empty the sharpener) , a stack of post-its (for marking recipes) and a pad of paper for the grocery list.

I'm sorry, but the intro's to so many recipes in books, and the sidebars, just aren't the same while sitting at the 'puter.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I can't imagine anyone being impressed with a present of a gift wrapped CD or a download licence for a cookbook.

As FoodMan and snowangel have posted, nothing can replace the feel of a book.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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This is what I do for a living -- transform textbooks into wonderful interactive multimedia.

I hear this either/or argument a lot.

And I ask: did the microwave kill the oven? Did the cell phone kill the wall phone? Did digital movies kill cable?

Why choose, why not both?

Nothing replaces the experience of a book. My house is full of 'em, I collect 'em, I hand bind them myself, I even gold illuminate them.

But I also have a computer, which serves a different purpose.

What if: someone invented really good cookbook software?

What if you could arrange the recipes anyway you wanted?

What if you could have that lemon pie filed under pie and lemon?

What if you could buy a cookbook and then download a digital recipe pack for free?

What if you used a seach feature to search "rhubarb" across six different cookbooks?

What if you could add your own cook's notes?

What if you could get a special video pack on pie making?

What if you could buy a Thomas Keller animated tutorial to go with his book?

What if you could create your own cookbooks and print them out?

What if you could collect all of the recipes you find online and bring them into your software?

What if you could use your software to attend a virtual lecture by Diana Kennedy?

What if your software included a Larousse and a link from anywhere to the Larousse?

I could go on and on. I don't use cookbook software myself, but I have all of my recipes in digital format. Any new recipe I get, I grab it digitally. For two reasons: one, because in one of these threads I learned of a woman who had her hand-written cookbook stolen. Two, because I don't believe the plethora of free recipes on the Internet will last forever. Periodically, I download this file to a Flash drive and I have a copy in my safe deposit box.

I like printing out a recipe, getting it dirty and throwing it away. I like being able to email recipes any time I want. I like searching across my recipe files. I like filing recipes in multiple places, because I am a flavor nut (I've got a buttermilk file). I have a variety of cookbooks that I own just to look at, like most people. Food porn.

I would love, however, to have The Joy of Cooking digitally . . .

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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If one has spent any time with a current-generation e-book reader it shouldn't be terribly hard to imagine how, with a few more generations of product development, we'll have a very attractive book-alternative available to us. Right now, sure, a well-made book is preferable to an Amazon Kindle. Readability is far superior with a real book, and a real book can be in color. But once you get to the point where there are portable color digital displays that produce a page that is visually on par with a first-rate four-color print job on paper, then you have to start looking at the myriad advantages of an e-book reader or equivalent device. For example, the ability to have several thousand cookbooks on that device, all portable, all searchable and sortable in many different ways.

Even current-generation e-book readers are in many ways preferable to mass-market "pulp" paperbacks, not to mention unbound manuscripts and bound galleys. I have a friend who's a highly placed editor at one of the top publishing companies. She commutes to and from work by train. Every few days she has her assistant load her Sony e-book reader up with all the latest book proposals, manuscripts, page proofs, new titles from the company, etc. She just takes that device on the train and goes through a dozen of those things a day. And of course, also loaded on the device, there's an unabridged dictionary, an encyclopedia, a style guide, etc. The next generation of these devices will be linked to the internet, so any word you click on can be backed up by thousands of references.

When I go out to walk the dog in the morning I see kids going to the various schools in my neighborhood, carrying these huge backpacks full of textbooks, their little skeletons getting deformed under the weight of a 30-pound pack over one shoulder. I think to myself how unnecessary it is to carry 7 textbooks when, for the price of those 7 textbooks, you could just get a Kindle.

Of course the other big advantage of electronic book formats is the total lack of space constraints and the minuscule production costs. Most every book you get in hard-copy form has fewer words and fewer photos than would have been the ideal. There's no need to make those compromises with electronic media. You can have a hundred photos illustrating one recipe. You can have video and audio too.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Spill a cup of stock on a book, and you can dry it with a towel, a fan and a curse or two.

Worst case, one book trashed.

Spill a cup of stock on an ebook, and you could lose your whole library.

There is indeed room for both, and I dont like e-things in the kitchen, tho I like them near it.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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I'd love to see cookbooks come with a CD that had all the recipes in PDF format. You could print them out and take that into the kitchen, instead of a pretty book that takes up a lot of space and won't stay open to the right page.

Personally, I am toying around with the idea of using an iPod touch to read recipes stored on another computer.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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No one is more grateful to the electronic media than I, and I appreciate all the time-saving, tree-saving, cut-and-paste, sort and print options daily.

But you know, I spend enough ass time in front of a screen. I don't want to squint at one to find the biscuit recipe from "Joy." Because I treat my cookbooks as kitchen tools, to be a dinged as my knives, not coddled like the Dead Sea Scrolls, I find the easily portable paper and board book simpler and more practical in the kitchen.

As to kids toting books, pfui. It builds character. I did it in -20 weather, in a miniskirt in high heeled boots. If kids still tote books, it's probably the most exercise they get , except for those Manhattan sqaush lessons.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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This is what I do for a living -- transform textbooks into wonderful interactive multimedia.

I hear this either/or argument a lot.

And I ask: did the microwave kill the oven?  Did the cell phone kill the wall phone?  Did digital movies kill cable?

Why choose, why not both?

Nothing replaces the experience of a book.  My house is full of 'em, I collect 'em, I hand bind them myself, I even gold illuminate them.

But I also have a computer, which serves a different purpose.

What if:  someone invented really good cookbook software?

What if you could arrange the recipes anyway you wanted?

What if you could have that lemon pie filed under pie and lemon?

What if you could buy a cookbook and then download a digital recipe pack for free?

What if you used a seach feature to search "rhubarb" across six different cookbooks?

What if you could add your own cook's notes?

What if you could get a special video pack on pie making?

What if you could buy a Thomas Keller animated tutorial to go with his book?

What if you could create your own cookbooks and print them out?

What if you could collect all of the recipes you find online and bring them into your software?

What if you could use your software to attend a virtual lecture by Diana Kennedy?

What if your software included a Larousse and a link from anywhere to the Larousse?

I could go on and on.  I don't use cookbook software myself, but I have all of my recipes in digital format.  Any new recipe I get, I grab it digitally.  For two reasons:  one, because in one of these threads I learned of a woman who had her hand-written cookbook stolen.  Two, because I don't believe the plethora of free recipes on the Internet will last forever.  Periodically, I download this file to a Flash drive and I have a copy in my safe deposit box.

I like printing out a recipe, getting it dirty and throwing it away.  I like being able to email recipes any time I want.  I like searching across my recipe files.  I like filing recipes in multiple places, because I am a flavor nut (I've got a buttermilk file).  I have a variety of cookbooks that I own just to look at, like most people.  Food porn. 

I would love, however, to have The Joy of Cooking digitally . . .

I lost my Mom's hand written recipe book to a house fire. How MUCH do I wish I'd had a digital back-up? :sad:

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Spill a cup of stock on an ebook, and you could lose your whole library.

If you damage or lose your .mp3 player you don't actually lose any music. You just go back to your computer and sync up with a new .mp3 player. An e-book reader works the same way.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'd like to pick and choose the content, the equivilant of buying single tracks.

I just don't need another version/rift/remix on how to make a blonde stock (though I'd pay for Sur Lees different stock ingredients), or the lonely scallop with cauliflower puree (ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzz) or the basic bread recipe that restaurant books bulk themselves out with.

Though I would like an update that someone has improved consomme making with gelatin filtration or with a thermal cooker (thanks NathanM). Perhaps subscription sites will arise, Twodogs, Sean Brocks or Shola's sites may reach a critical mass where they can make a living from just researching and not worry about the publish & perish jeopardy.

That reminds me, isn't it time I become a donor to this site!

(leave me alone Fat Guy, your money is coming, I am like a Radiohead fan who won't put his hand in his pocket. :shock: )

Edited by adey73 (log)

“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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If one has spent any time with a current-generation e-book reader it shouldn't be terribly hard to imagine how, with a few more generations of product development, we'll have a very attractive book-alternative available to us. Right now, sure, a well-made book is preferable to an Amazon Kindle. Readability is far superior with a real book, and a real book can be in color. But once you get to the point where there are portable color digital displays that produce a page that is visually on par with a first-rate four-color print job on paper, then you have to start looking at the myriad advantages of an e-book reader or equivalent device. For example, the ability to have several thousand cookbooks on that device, all portable, all searchable and sortable in many different ways.

Even current-generation e-book readers are in many ways preferable to mass-market "pulp" paperbacks, not to mention unbound manuscripts and bound galleys. I have a friend who's a highly placed editor at one of the top publishing companies. She commutes to and from work by train. Every few days she has her assistant load her Sony e-book reader up with all the latest book proposals, manuscripts, page proofs, new titles from the company, etc. She just takes that device on the train and goes through a dozen of those things a day. And of course, also loaded on the device, there's an unabridged dictionary, an encyclopedia, a style guide, etc. The next generation of these devices will be linked to the internet, so any word you click on can be backed up by thousands of references.

When I go out to walk the dog in the morning I see kids going to the various schools in my neighborhood, carrying these huge backpacks full of textbooks, their little skeletons getting deformed under the weight of a 30-pound pack over one shoulder. I think to myself how unnecessary it is to carry 7 textbooks when, for the price of those 7 textbooks, you could just get a Kindle.

Of course the other big advantage of electronic book formats is the total lack of space constraints and the minuscule production costs. Most every book you get in hard-copy form has fewer words and fewer photos than would have been the ideal. There's no need to make those compromises with electronic media. You can have a hundred photos illustrating one recipe. You can have video and audio too.

I agree with the jist of what your saying here, but I think you are talking about how much faster and efficient digital books are. This is not why I buy a book. I certainly do not just buy it for reference either. I agree with Lindacakes here in saying the two forms can and I believe will coexist. Your editor friend reads her novels on the same e-reader?

When it comes to text books. who reads those for fun? So a digital format is more than welcome for when my kid starts school.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Cookbooks are about more than just information, as are most other books. I enjoy reading cookbooks for their ideas and history. Right now I'm looking at a Scottish cookery book that's fascinating--I doubt I'd ever really want to make liver haggis stuffed in a cod's head, but I love reading about it.

Another thing that's good about cookbooks, especially used ones, is the history of that particular book. I wish I had my grandma's cookbooks; people who do should count themselves lucky. When I get a cookbook, I'm interested in the notes that the previous owner has made in it--what recipes are good, what she (or he) has changed in the recipe to make it their own. You wouldn't get any of this in an electronic format.

On the other hand, even though I have over four thousand cookbooks here at my fingertips, when I want a recipe, I often look one up online--because it's much faster and easier. I have a binder that I add printed recipes to in my kitchen, if they've worked out well. So I see a use for both formats. I just like the real thing more.

Here's something that I thought about when I stopped writing by hand and started using a computer. When you hit that delete button, the information is gone. But when you cross it out and go another direction, you can come back to that original thought and rework it later. Your document becomes a palimpsest, which to my mind is much more interesting than a perfect-looking document. Old cookbooks, in the same way, don't just present information, they add reviews of the recipes that are there, reminders, instructions, and history. Electronic media can't compete in these areas.

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This is often a topic that comes up at my office, since I work for a major magazine publishing company. The quantities of magazines that we produce each month (over 30 million magazines across various titles, but no dedicated cooking titles!) have not decreased indicating thus far that there is still a desire for a printed magazine.

Personally, I love looking at cookbooks and magazines. I also like to peruse websites looking for recipes (actually while I'm at work). I have a laptop in my kitchen, which I love, plus my many cookbooks. I don't think that one source/format is better than the other -- they both serve a purpose.

Edited by Cleo (log)
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Spill a cup of stock on a book, and you can dry it with a towel, a fan and a curse or two.

Worst case, one book trashed.

Spill a cup of stock on an ebook, and you could lose your whole library.

Drop a book, it (usually) survives.

Drop a Kindle... :shock:

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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I'm in the 'room for both' camp.

And three cheers for scanning, OCR, etc. Backups are good.

But I still dont like electronic stuff in my kitchen. I dont want to buy a new e-book reader any time there's a spill, even if the contents are safe on my computer.

I've done the trick with putting the laptop in a giant ziplock bag, so I could use it to update sample inventories in the lap. PITA.

The recipes I do print out from electronic sources get sleeved and reused. I dont like printing over and over. So, the e-source still becomes the palimpsest (you should see the DutchBaby recipe).

Photocopiers also did not kill the cookbook, tho in theory they could have limited sales to one copy per neighborhood library. And bless them, for we have a photocopy of Gma's recipe for chocolate cake, which turns out to be in GREAT Gma's writing. :)

I have a friend who is entirely enamoured of her Kindle. I'll ask her how she feels about using it in place of cookbooks. (hmmm. Not sure she uses cookbooks. She cooks extensively and well. hmmmm.)

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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I can download books and recipes to my PDA but it's not the best format for reading in the kitchen.

I do make notations on my printed out recipes, too. After I make the recipe, I note what I did differently and how it worked out. Maybe one of the reasons I print out recipes is that I don't like to write in my cookbooks. Or spill on them. But a single piece of paper doesn't get that kind of respect in my kitchen.

I've always loved books, but I have to admit I treat them better now that I sell them. It also helps that my enthusiastic but messy children are now all grown. Although I still have memories of what they cooked permanently recorded in the stains on the brownie recipe page and others.

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I can only assume a lot of folks posting here have never used an ebook reader like the Kindle. To clarify a few points:

- The epaper display on a device like the Kindle is substantially more paper-like than a laptop screen. The experience comes damn close to reading print on paper. At the very least, anybody who spends a few minutes with a Kindle is likely to conclude that with a few more generations of product development the epaper displays will be on par with paper-and-ink or may even look better.

- There are also several ways in which even current-generation epaper displays are superior to paper-and-ink. The most apparent one is the ability to adjust text size. You can make any book into a large-type edition with the touch of a button. Anybody who has ever struggled to read the small type in a regular cookbook will surely appreciate this.

- You can make annotations "in the margins" with an ebook reader -- this is a basic feature of every ebook device I've seen -- and the ability to do so is quite a bit more sophisticated than what you can accomplish with handwritten notes. You can export your notes, you can highlight and copy whole passages, you can make lists of bookmarked pages and passages, etc.

- A $400 ebook reader costs as much as, let's say, 20 books. Sure, it's possible to damage one, but it's also possible to have your entire library of paper books burn down or get destroyed in a flood -- it happens all the time. The difference is that if you have a Kindle you just log in to your Amazon account and associate your account with a replacement Kindle and you get everything back. You don't lose 500 books in one fell swoop like you would in a flood or fire; indeed, you don't lose anything except the physical device. Nor are ebook readers terribly fragile. You can drop one. You can spill stuff on one. They're about as durable as an iPod or whatever. They're breakable but they're not made of glass. In addition, every book you buy in ebook format is substantially cheaper than in print, of course. You pay for the ebook reader with your first couple of dozen book purchases because you keep buying $35 books for $10. If you buy a hundred ebooks you've saved so much money that you can afford to treat the ebook reader as a disposable device. You can lose or destroy four of them and still come out ahead.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I haven't used one in the kitchen. I'm still a couple of product generations away from being an ebook-reader owner -- I'm waiting for color and such. I did, however, read about 150 pages of a book late into the night on my friend's Sony ebook reader a couple of months ago. There was no eyestrain beyond what you'd have with paper, and if anything the ability to bump up the text size works against eyestrain. I also played with a Kindle and it seemed to be a superior product to the Sony in a lot of ways.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I can only assume a lot of folks posting here have never used an ebook reader like the Kindle. To clarify a few points:

- The epaper display on a device like the Kindle is substantially more paper-like than a laptop screen. The experience comes damn close to reading print on paper. At the very least, anybody who spends a few minutes with a Kindle is likely to conclude that with a few more generations of product development the epaper displays will be on par with paper-and-ink or may even look better.

Sounds interesting, my concern would be that you would end up loosing data due to upgrades etc. A lot of data from earlier on in my career (10 years ago) is no longer accessible (without great effort) due to either the software or the format it is stored in.

While a lot of books I enjoy might not make it to this format, the use of google books has made me realize how valuble this technology is. I love the tactile nature of books, but access to data is something I love even more.

I think that eventually I will use both formats.

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Another one on the "room for both" side. I love books. I actually like the smell and mystery of the stacks in a big library. I like the history of the book, I like handling the book, I treat it like a friend. That said, if I am researching something and I want alot of different versions of a recipe or I just do not have familiarity with the dish, I "google". I am not familiar with e-books and I am sure that will come. I do have to say that there are some books I was tempted to buy that I have not because I can access the recipes elsewhere. If the text and pictures were in the described "almost book like" format I would tend to access those sort of in between books in such a manner. Take this from a person who finds a photo free and only word-picture book like Madeleine Kamman's "When French Women Cook" her favorite comfort bedtime reading.

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For straight up information digital wins every time.. For sitting on a hammock, relaxing on a porch, sitting in your favorite chair, nothing beats the comfort of a book.. Written words, on a living breathing paper.. Not some artificially lit screen.

Edited by Daniel (log)
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