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nickrey

EatYourBooks.com: search your own cookbooks for recipes online

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I'm surprised no-one has started a thread on this as yet, so here goes.

There is a very new web site (so new it's still in Beta) that you can enter your cookbooks into to create an on-line bookshelf.

This is the slow and tedious part of the process (particularly if you have as many cookbooks as I do).

What comes next is the neat part. A lot of books have been indexed, with all the recipes and their respective ingredients.

Want to search through your books for a recipe using lobster and vanilla? Enter the ingredients into the advanced search engine and up pops all of the recipes from indexed books in your own library that contain these two ingredients. They also give the rest of the ingredients and allow you to add these to your shopping list, which is categorised by type of produce so you can order your shopping around the store.

I'm not sure how many books have been indexed so far and not all of my books were on there but I do know that from today I have indexed 176 cookbooks and can search through 12,022 recipes.

No more simply going to old standby cookbooks. I'm sure I'll get more use out of my library as a cooking resource using this website.

The web site is called eat your books.

At present the site is in beta but is accepting subscriptions (current price is $25 per annum or $50 as a limited offer for lifetime membership).

It's an idea that I wish I'd thought of but am really pleased to be able to use.

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Nick, do you (or can you) enter your books by ISBN? Or is it by title?

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You can bulk enter by ISBN (which I only found out after searching for each title).


Edited by nickrey (log)

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Holy crap. This is a dream come true. I just joined with the free 30 day registration, and if this is as good as it seems, I'm a lifer.

First impressions: the book search is a bit clunky and slow. Not having visuals of most of the books (especially of the spine labels -- I'm sitting in my study looking at books on the shelves while I'm doing this) is a drag. You should also be able to tick boxes in your "My Bookshelf" screen and request indexes in bulk, instead of having to do it one at a time with a clunky mailto interface.

But this is quibbling. I'm more excited about this food-related technological advance than I have been about anything since, well, since I discovered the eGullet Society.

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Awesome, "bulk" as in, upload a file with an ISBN per line or something like that? That's how my book software works (Readerware), so that would be pretty seamless.

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Looking at the instructions, it is one per line using either the 10 or 13 digit ISBN.

Books with ISBN that are not yet in the EYB book database apparently will be automatically added to your own bookshelf once they are uploaded.

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So the idea is that you enter in the ISBN of books you already own, and EYB will index only those recipes for you? What's to prevent you from entering in the ISBNs of books you don't own to access a wider library of recipes?

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From the EYB website:

"The Recipe Detail does not contain the quantities or the method. Eat Your Books is not a recipe site - it helps you find recipes you want from the thousands you own in your cookbooks."

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Aha. So it just provides the recipe name, book and page number information.

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As someone who owns hundreds of cookbooks, I can see how this will be very useful. Occasionally, I will know that I have a recipe for something, but just cannot recall where.

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Plowing through my collection and noticed the first, I'm sure, of many ironies in this project. One of the most important indexes of cuisine in the history of publication, Escoffier's Guide to Modern Cookery, is not itself indexed in any edition.

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Who is entering this information in? Is it being purchased from the publishers directly, or is this startup doing that themselves? if they are doing it themselves there is a very good reason for the missing Escoffier...

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Wonder if I could use my little scanning wand to read the ISBN's to enter them?

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Kerry, that's basically what I do, I use a bar code scanner to get the ISBNs, it can make a file with one code per line. So according to Nick's post above, that would work perfectly.

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My 157 cookbooks and 31,479 recipes are all in. (Those are mindblowing numbers, even without the 30 or so that weren't in their database.) Guessing now, but I think that about 10% of my cookbooks aren't indexed, and most of those are ones I use pretty infrequently.

Indeed, one of the (many) great potential benefits of this service is that, unlike a google, eG Forums, or epicurious search, I'm far more likely to find recipes that correspond to my tastes, equipment, skills, and so on.

I just had an amazing thought: what if they index all of the cocktail books? Or even just the books of DeGroff, Regan, Wondrich, Haigh, and a few other authors?


Edited by Chris Amirault (log)

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I have most of my cookbooks held on the 'library thing' database and was able to export all the ISBNs and just import them in batches of 500 at a time to EYB.

Really impressed.

Minor drawback is that most of my books are UK published editions and it looks like the US edition is the most likely to be indexed.

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So far so good: it seems to have recognized most of the cookbooks that I actually use. There are a few it recognized but that aren't indexed (yet...). My one complaint is that it doesn't include the page number of the recipe in the book, at least not that I can see. Is it in there somewhere?

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Has anyone tried to access the site from a smartphone? I am imagining being at the grocery store or market and seeing a special, or something particularly fresh, and building dinner around it on the spot.

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This is a very clever tool. I'm finding it very easy to search by author's name and just tick the boxes. I plan to enter about 25 books to start and do a few searches. If those searches go well, I just might buy the membership. Author's last name or ISBN number seem like the fastest ways to search.

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I can't find page numbers, either -- a strange omission.

So far, I'm really liking it. The shopping list feature is pretty cool, too.


Edited by Chris Amirault (log)

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I didn't see the page omission as a flaw. Basically the app tells me which cookbook to go to. I can then use the cookbook's index to find the recipe.

Also, the indexing being mainly for US editions is not a major issue precisely because it doesn't have page numbers. It's just the funny spelling that makes it a bit more challenging.

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50 cookbooks in under 15 minutes. Easy peasy using an iPad

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Has anyone tried to access the site from a smartphone? I am imagining being at the grocery store or market and seeing a special, or something particularly fresh, and building dinner around it on the spot.

Just brought the website up on my iPhone. As it doesn't use software downloaded to your computer it works just fine.

Now I can look in my own recipe books for cooking ideas while in the supermarket rather than using Epicurious, as I do now.

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Do they have a page layout that is customized to the smartphone, or are you just using their regular website?

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