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Bill Klapp

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

79 posts in this topic

(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

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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"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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 (log)

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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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.

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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).

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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, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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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

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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.

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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.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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 (log)
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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

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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.

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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

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


Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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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....

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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.

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