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Is there a future for cookbooks? Do we need them anymore?

t
tonka11_99 Apr 11, 2010 10:23 PM

With the web and recipe and cooking sites in abundance. Do we really need cookbooks anymore?

I think they may have gone the way of the newspaper. While many people still read both, the number of people that do shrink every year, don't they?

Look I have a lot of books and many are cookbooks but I get most of my recipes nowadays off the web, I don't want to find them on the web every time I need them so i copy them into word format and save them on my hard drive. It is easy to modify for my needs and likes.

I was just wondering about other peoples comments on this. I hope I haven't offended any die hard cookbook fans.

  1. i
    icecone Apr 12, 2010 03:16 AM

    Some advantages of cookbooks:

    1. they organize recipes. you can bookmark a recipe online, but the page can disappear and large bookmark menus are hard to navigate

    2. the pictures are nicer and they're already printed on photo quality paper. when you find nice pictures on the web, they gobble up ink to print out.

    3. books don't need a computer and you can lay on the couch thumbing through them.

    4. famous chefs have something to autograph.

    1. TheSwedishFish Apr 12, 2010 04:06 AM

      I feel like cookbooks have become a bit like cd's, you're mostly interested in a couple of recipes, and don't necessarily want to buy the whole book. And when you can get so many recipes online it's easy to print them off and collect them in a recipe book of your own.

      Having said that, I do think that there is still a market for cookbooks. There's the whole aesthetic aspect of it - like icecone says, the photos are nicer and you can easily just flick through the book without actually having to make any of the recipes. It's like food escapism. And if you want to make a recipe, you don't have to turn on the computer to find it.

      There are still loads of cookbooks being published, especially in the celebrity chef genre, and now food bloggers get the opportunity to publish their stuff too, so I definitely think cookbooks will be around for a good while.

      1. Caitlin McGrath Apr 12, 2010 10:13 AM

        I, for one, find great value in cookbooks. I have found many great recipes online, but I am much more inspired by cookbooks. In addition to the aesthetic aspects others have noted, cookbooks provide valuable context that is hard to find on websites. Authors include discussions of techniques, ingredients, historical and cultural context, etc. that you're unlikely to find on websites that often offer recipes as discrete entities. Too, books on particular cuisines offer context and much education about that particular cuisine that is unusual to find on websites that may replicate some of the recipes. And consider that much of what one can find online, on blogs and on sites like Allrecipes and Recipe Zaar are recipes straight from cookbooks. If those cookbooks ceased to be released, there would be many fewer new and exciting recipes posted on the web.

        1. amyzan Apr 12, 2010 10:33 AM

          I'm much pickier about which cookbooks I actually buy anymore. But, I do buy cookbooks that are particularly useful, like Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I'm not even a vegetarian, which tells you something. But, it's been several years since I found a cookbook I felt absolutely compelled to purchase like I did with Madison's. Purchasing is more of a pleasure, indulgence, and convenience, I'd say. I'm one of those who takes cookbooks to bed or to the doctor's office to read. Computers just don't make as good a companion, IMO, and certainly aren't sleep inducing. Until we fully integrate computers into our homes, i.e. monitors in many rooms with wi-fi, I think cookbooks will continue to have a place.

          1. h
            HillJ Apr 12, 2010 11:00 AM

            All of my home cooking and professional chef friends & family still enjoy rec'ing cookbooks as gifts and view food mags, food blogs, cooking videos, CD/DVD food sets and recipe cards supplements to the original published work ie: cookbook. It is true that the markets in all areas are changing and changing fast but original work is still treasured imho.

            1. viperlush Apr 12, 2010 12:05 PM

              Cookbooks you can pass down to future generations. How can you pass down websites?

              8 Replies
              1. re: viperlush
                j
                jvanderh Apr 12, 2010 12:37 PM

                I will most definitely pass down websites. I am contemplating downloading all my bookmarked recipes onto a thumb drive as part of a wedding gift.

                I buy a cookbook if I can't get a digital version and I think it's going to be great. Half the time, I end up regretting it anyway. I agree that they're largely unnecessary. It is sometimes nice not to have to lug the computer into the kitchen, though. . .

                1. re: jvanderh
                  c
                  ceekskat Apr 12, 2010 12:52 PM

                  Love perusing cookbooks as well as online forums...

                  "It is sometimes nice not to have to lug the computer into the kitchen, though. . ." That's what the ipad (with a stand) is for :) LOL!

                  1. re: ceekskat
                    t
                    tonka11_99 Apr 12, 2010 03:18 PM

                    Well, I don't have to lug my computer into the kitchen... I have one of those new fangled printers. :-) I still buy em but I usually regret it after. Thank god for half.com and Amazon used book section. I don't think I would pay retail for a cookbook on a bet.

                  2. re: jvanderh
                    viperlush Apr 12, 2010 01:48 PM

                    Sure it's possible to pass down websites, but thumb drives/memory cards are easy to lose or overwrite. Website content changes or disappears. I know books can be lost or destroyed to, but it's far more difficult to do the same to a book (at least for me it is). Books carry notes and stains along with the recipes. I frequently swap online recipes with my mother, but it's the cookbooks from my grandmother and my boyfriend's grandmother that I cherish. But then again I am one of those who refuse to see the purpose on online books, magazines, and newspapers.

                    I am surprised that no one has started a thread on the best way to get flour.sugar, etc. from between the keys of a computer. Or how to get splatter off it's screen. At least I haven't put a hot pot on the laptop (yet)...

                    1. re: viperlush
                      Michelly Sep 23, 2013 08:13 AM

                      Agreed. All my cookbooks AND the 3x5" cards that, yes, I still use, are stained and splattered because sometimes I'm in the middle of making a dish, with my hands covered with food, and I need to turn the page. Or turn the card over.
                      "Not necessary with the computer" you say. Okay, there's a point where the computer screen goes dark because it's been on a certain time and it's saving the power/screen; I'd have to touch the keyboard or screen with my chicken-covered fingers.
                      "Print it out" you say? I do that from some websites, and I have to store the paper copy if I want to use it again without having to print it over when I want to make the dish again, and as viperlush and Jennalyn pointed out, some websites remove recipes or disappear altogether.
                      And I'm a passionate (read:"messy") cook, often having to clean not only the counter and the appliances in the vicinity of my preparations, but the backsplash and the floor as well.
                      Any computer would be covered, and in the process of being cleaned, possibly ruined. Cookbooks are cheaper to replace.

                      1. re: Michelly
                        The Dairy Queen Sep 23, 2013 08:44 AM

                        I haven't used it personally, but the free online pepperplate recipe software I use and love is supposed to have some kind of mode that prevents your ipad from going to sleep while you're in the middle of using a recipe. I know of some folks who put their ipad in a giant ziplock to protect it from splashes dashes and spills, but there is also this product called "Chef Sleeves". http://www.amazon.com/Chef-Sleeve-Dis...

                        The great thing about pepperplate is that it gives you the ability to easily (sometimes with a mere click or two) import all of those recipes you find on various websites into one place (while retaining links to the original URL in case you want to go back and look at it) so you have the info in case the original website disappears. You still do have to protect yourself from pepperplate disappearing, but that's just one thing to backup instead of many ragtag ones.

                        One more advantage to pepperplate or any kind of electronic mode of storing recipes is that it can be backed up and stored offsite in the event of a flood or fire or some kind of physical disaster that could destroy your cookbooks. And, yes, while insurance would pay to replace some of it, it won't replace all of it as a friend who recently lost everything in her kitchen to a fire found out the hard way.

                        I'm not trying to persuade you from giving up your cookbooks (I'm not giving up mine!) and the OP is long gone. I'm merely passing along some info that might be useful in case you want to use both electronic and hard copy(i.e., recipe cards, clippings and cookbooks) resources, depending on the circumstances, as I do.

                        ~TDQ

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                          d
                          DebinIndiana Dec 22, 2013 06:28 PM

                          I have been playing with pepperplate this season, and you are correct. it is great for importing recipes, and categorizing them.

                          However, I cannot find a way to export them for backup. Does anyone know how to do this?

                          To answer the OP, I think that cookbooks are less important than they once were. I do not think they will disappear, if only because we will continue buying them as gifts for each other for years! And, perhaps most important, our collections of cookbooks have post-its and notes and tweaks built right in. The notes in your mom's or aunt's cookbook are wonderful to stumble onto.

                          MY OWN cookbook, (collection of all our favorite recipes, with family pictures, printed out in a three ring binder (also available on thumb drive in .pdf) is priceless.

                    2. re: jvanderh
                      Jennalynn Apr 12, 2010 02:09 PM

                      That will work only if the site stays online forever.

                      I have many links from sites that have become defunct. And now I wish I had downloaded a screen grab or a pdf of the information I was hoping to keep.

                  3. ttoommyy Apr 12, 2010 01:04 PM

                    Cookbooks are (usually) well written, researched and edited. Many web sites are poorly written and often give wrong amounts, etc. It's the nature of the beast. A book is forever when it is printed and a lot of care is given to the final product. Web sites can change by the minute and therefore many people are not very careful about what they write since they know it can be easily fixed if someone brings it to their attention. Furthermore, a lot of content on web sites is written by nonprofessionals; cookbooks have professional authors, editors, fact checkers, etc., behind them. I find many recipe sites have errors running throughout. Of course these are general statements and I realize there are very good web sites and poorly written cookbooks. But I stand by my original statements as a rule. I am not tech-phobic in the least: I recently started reading most books (but not cookbooks! lol) on a kindle, for instance. I just love cookbooks.

                    1. t
                      tonka11_99 Apr 12, 2010 03:26 PM

                      Now folks. I am advocating saving your recipes in Word format on your hard drive. I have hundreds of recipes divided up in categories. If I have one that I have modified I have a code in the title that it is mine. I back these recipes up and I also carry them on a thumb drive.

                      If I have several recipes of the same type... say Beef Stroganoff, I have the recipes in tier 1 and tier 2 to know to check the tier 1 first. I suppose I will probably delete the tier 2 eventually.

                      This method seems easier to me for finding these recipes again. I hate to go through books and websites looking for a recipe I have been meaning to try. I do, however have a lot of cookbooks with colorful flags from post it on them.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: tonka11_99
                        amyzan Apr 12, 2010 04:21 PM

                        I do save recipes on my hard drive, but am not in the habit of it. I will peruse my cookbook shelf first when deciding on a menu. Probably more out of habit than anything.

                      2. ipsedixit Apr 12, 2010 04:24 PM

                        Not just cookbooks, but all books, magazines, etc. are an endangered species.

                        It's a brave new world of iPads and Kindles ...

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: ipsedixit
                          Jennalynn Apr 12, 2010 05:56 PM

                          Books are not endangered... Printing is.

                          I love my kindle and I read books on it. Authors will still write and I will still read. It's just the delivery system of the words that will change.

                          But I don't Kindle cookbooks. Just a choice. I buy hard copies of cookbooks.

                          1. re: ipsedixit
                            pikawicca May 11, 2010 03:13 PM

                            Cookbooks do not work at all well on Kindle.

                            1. re: pikawicca
                              r
                              rasputina Sep 23, 2013 09:05 AM

                              I use them all the time without issue on my ipad though, using the kindle app. In fact for large heavy cookbooks they are easier to read and use. I can adjust the font size, color and contrast so it's easier to read ( dumb publishers with pale green font on cream colored paper) Plus I can make notes and highlight and bookmark digitally. Plus I always know where my computer is and I have multiple backups, no worries about not being able to cook a dish because I can't find that one cookbook that has my favorite recipe.

                              I do still buy print books though too. I refuse to limit my options.

                          2. Woodrow Wilson Apr 12, 2010 04:34 PM

                            Web sites and e-book cookbooks are ready for the computer, but is the computer ready for them? Maybe not. I know what one drop of merlot on my motherboard cost me. I keep my computer out of the kitchen. There go a lot of the advantages of electronic recipe collections.

                            1. Azizeh Apr 12, 2010 04:41 PM

                              I collect cookbooks. I read them like regular books, cover to cover. Oddly enough, when I want to look up how to make something, I usually go to the internet for the rundown. Having so many cookbooks, it's hard for me to remember where I read something or to take the time to find it.

                              But, there's something charming about cookbooks. I will continue to collect them.

                              When I do use a cookbook, I Xerox the page and take that into the kitchen, as to not ruin the whole book.

                              1. Cherylptw Apr 12, 2010 04:48 PM

                                While it's easy to jump on the computer to look up a recipe, I still like cookbooks even though I rarely buy them for myself. I do get nice ones as gifts though. Another thing is that not everyone is online these days. My mother (who is 66), for one, does not own a computer nor does she really have a desire to learn how to use them but she has a ton of cookbooks. So my answer is yes, I believe there is a future...

                                1. d
                                  dmd_kc Apr 12, 2010 10:43 PM

                                  I'm as plugged in as they come, but my cookbooks have a place that can never be replaced electronically. They're so much more contemplative and thoughtful, and the worst you can do to their pages is to stain them or occasionally stick them together. There's no way I'm getting an electronic screen near a citrus juicer or a bubbling sauce pan.

                                  1. b
                                    beevod Apr 13, 2010 06:32 AM

                                    The end of cookbooks would be the end of civilization. Oh, those lovely pages and their tell-tale food stains.

                                    1. nofunlatte Apr 13, 2010 07:08 AM

                                      I think cookbooks will eventually go the way of the dinosaur, at least cookbooks as we know them (Jennalynn raised the important point that BOOKS aren't dying, PRINT is dying). But, I think it will take some time--cookbooks are probably one of the few rosy sectors in the publishing business. A substantial portion of the population grew up with physical, hard copy books and frankly, until that population (and its discretionary income) dies out, physical books will be here. The younger population--the digital natives--aren't going to miss the physical books, because they use them less and less. Education materials are increasingly removed from being founded on print media, so kids grow up learning with emerging media and technologies. They will use cooking instructional materials on the web, YouTube, social networks, etc. Additionally, devices (e.g. Kindle, iPad and the like) will increasingly evolve to provide more enhanced booklike experiences, and we may see more "kitchen-friendly" computers.

                                      That said, I do love my many cookbooks and enjoy perusing them and holding them and yes, looking and drooling over the great photos!

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: nofunlatte
                                        ttoommyy Apr 13, 2010 07:25 AM

                                        "They will use cooking instructional materials on the web, YouTube, social networks, etc."

                                        But until these e-materials are monitored, researched, fact checked, etc., they are not as refined a resource or learning tool as a published cookbook. I've tried going on youtube for some instructional videos, but most of what is on there is useless to me. Bad techniques, misinformation, dirty kitchens, etc.

                                        1. re: ttoommyy
                                          nofunlatte Apr 13, 2010 02:51 PM

                                          I think you are misinterpreting my post as a stance against cookbooks, which it is not. I have many cookbooks, well over a hundred at last count (granted, there are many chowhounds with orders of magnitude more than me). I love them, whether I use them or not. BUT I was addressing whether or not the physical cookbook as we know it will survive. I think not. Nowhere did I address the veracity of digital content vs. print. That said, there is no guarantee with print books, either. I've seen mistakes, errors, and omissions in my physical books, so publication is no "stamp of approval". Nor is there a guarantee that recipes were tested in clean kitchens--one just doesn't really know. And jmckee notes (downthread) the works of authority--but would Bittman (one of his/her examples) be less of an authority if "How to Cook Everything" were a website as opposed to a physical book? Is his NYTimes column/blog less trustworthy than his books?

                                      2. h
                                        HillJ Apr 13, 2010 08:17 AM

                                        http://www.chow.com/videos/show/obses...

                                        Mr. Waxman knows the value of printed cookbooks and makes a fantastic real authority for the vast place cookbooks have in our every day lives. Rock on, Mr. Waxman!

                                        1. jmckee Apr 13, 2010 10:27 AM

                                          i'm a bit puzzled as to why anybody would think cookbooks are passe.

                                          My observations:

                                          1. Frankly, the quality of recipes I get from the internet is rather a mixed bag. About three-quarters actually turn out a dish that "works"; somewhat fewer are of the quality I'm seeking; even fewer than that are, to use a "problem" word, "authentic," e.g., a risotto that would be recognizable to an interested Italian.

                                          2. Authorial point of view is very important in the best cookbooks. The works of Lynne Rosetto Kasper, say, or Mark Biitman are compiled with a definite take on the topic. Chances are if I like one recipe in the book I'll like and try a lot of others.

                                          3. it's not that easy to get a comprehensive set of recipes on the internet; "Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking" would take you years to download. If I want to learn about a certain type of cooking -- ethnicity, technique, ingredient -- i'm going to find the right cookbook rather than slog my way through the 'net. if I want to learn about Jewish food (and currently, I do), I'll buy Claudia Roden's book on that topic.

                                          4. I like the "package" of a cookbook -- the feel, the design, the pictures, the permanence of the thing. it does far more for me than a series of printed internet pages.

                                          5. I don't have a computer in the kitchen. My island is a bare, working island and it's easier for me to lay a cookbook on the counter than to do anything else.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: jmckee
                                            nofunlatte Apr 13, 2010 02:56 PM

                                            But if Rhoden. Kasper, Bittman, et al, and their recipes/instruction were solely available on the internet instead of physical form, would you trust them less? I am not anti-cookbook--I love them and buy entirely too many of them--but eventually I think they will form a very small subset of culinary works. This may take some time, but I do believe it will happen.

                                            BTW, I too like the package of the book--I love the aesthetics of opening a book, touching the pages (assuming it's on quality paper), gazing at the photography, using the index to search, etc. But I grew up with books--today's digital natives are probably as--if not more--comfortable with media devices like iPads and Kindles (though I do love my Kindle).

                                          2. t
                                            tonka11_99 Apr 13, 2010 01:30 PM

                                            I own several cookbooks, in fact, I just received a couple out of the mail box. I bought them on the internet at a severe discount which is the only way I buy a cookbook or any book for that matter.

                                            When I find a recipe I like in one of those cookbooks, I can usually find it on the web from that chef. I copy it into word. Set it up in the format I like and save it to my hard drive. I very seldom have to hand enter the recipe out of the book.

                                            I still like having the recipes on my hard drive so I can find it. Besides, there are very few recipes I don't end up modifying. If I am in a vastly respectful attitude I make my changes and change the file name slightly so I still have the original. Sometimes I just modify the existing recipe because i am the only one that has to be pleased by the recipe. I sometimes add in notes at the end about possible variations or things that might go well with it.

                                            When I want to cook the dish I print it out and at the end of the meal, whether it has a gravy stain on it or not, I throw it away.

                                            Sometimes I will take the same technique or even the same general recipe and change ingredients because if I can steam/saute green beans in a covered saute pan with butter and water, I can steam/saute carrots or broccoli.

                                            I will say this about the cookbooks I buy. I usually only find 5-6 recipes in a book I am interested in trying to duplicate.

                                            Consequently, I think the printed cookbook as well as the printed newspaper and the printed phone book are going are going the way of the dinosaur and the dodo bird.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: tonka11_99
                                              Caitlin McGrath Apr 13, 2010 03:19 PM

                                              Question: When you say you usually find it on the web from that chef, are those recipes actually put on the web by the author him- or herself on the author's site, or found on newspaper web site or the like? I ask because if a blogger or poster to a recipe site posted the recipe, and not a cookbook author on his or her own site, those recipes would not be available if the printed cookbook were not. And, if cookbooks are no longer issued, the professionals who write them will not be providing the equivalent content free on the web, as selling their recipes is their livlihood.

                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                t
                                                tonka11_99 Apr 13, 2010 06:22 PM

                                                Well, I just bought a wonderful cookbook. "How to cook without a book" by Pamela Anderson and another I fairly recently purchased was "The New Best Recipe" by Cook's Illustrated. I found most of Pam Anderson's recipes from the book at either food Network.com or All recipes.com. I found all the recipes in Cook's Illustrated book at Cook's Illustrated.com (there are like 600 of them). Now I do have a subscription to Cook's Illustrated that allows me access to all their recipes including from the books.

                                                Most of these great chefs have written articles or published recipes on public web sites. For Instance, all the great chef's on food network publish most of their recipes on Food Network's site.

                                                I think why I probably won't buy too many more cookbooks is that I am mostly interested in technique cookbooks not vast compilations of recipes. Well After buying a bunch of technique cookbooks, I probably am familiar as a home cook needs to be or at least have access to the info in the books I already have.

                                                1. re: tonka11_99
                                                  Caitlin McGrath Apr 13, 2010 08:06 PM

                                                  I understand. My point was simply that if you find recipes from cookbooks at sites like Allrecipes.com or Recipe Zaar, or on someone's blog, they are there because someone took them from the cookbook and posted them. Many cookbook authors will have some recipes out there as a form of publicity for their books, or you might be able to get some of them through Google Books. All of that depends on cookbooks existing as something that people will purchase. Even should they transition to electronic format successfully, they will have to be something that people purchase for new recipes to be generated as a livlihood by the professionals we value. I doubt that the format that they will take is as original website content, for that reason. Other formats will depend on a critical mass of buyers adopting devices on which to read them, and that's something evolving.

                                              2. re: tonka11_99
                                                b
                                                Beckyleach May 11, 2010 02:51 PM

                                                Not to sound like scold, but if you ONLY buy your books at a deep discount, you're not doing much to encourage publishers to publish, and authors to write.

                                                Something to think about...I like to stick it to the Man, but I also like to reward creativity.

                                                1. re: Beckyleach
                                                  Will Owen Dec 16, 2013 12:54 PM

                                                  AYYYmen! Although most of my cookbooks came from estate sales and antique malls, when I want a new one I go to Vroman's, our local bookstore first, then try Powell's, and only if those fail me I'll hit Amazon.

                                                  1. re: Will Owen
                                                    s
                                                    Sharuf Dec 30, 2013 08:06 AM

                                                    By Powell's, do you mean the one in Portland? From their website?

                                              3. Bill Hunt Apr 15, 2010 07:37 PM

                                                I wonder about this. OTOH, my wife, who has several smart phones, and a voice actuated automobile, still buys cookbooks and uses them. Maybe it's the thought of hot grease spattering onto her laptop?

                                                Time will tell.

                                                Hunt

                                                1. Pia Apr 16, 2010 12:00 PM

                                                  When I need the best recipe for a certain dish that I have in mind, or when I want a step-by-step tutorial, I turn to the Internet.

                                                  When I want someone's ideas or point of view, I like to look at a cookbook. I think of it as more of a trusted source. I also enjoy flipping through my cookbooks -- often I'll get an idea from that and then look on the Internet for a better recipe or variations. I don't care whether I'm looking at a printout from epicurious.com or my spattered copy of Joy of Cooking when I'm actually in the kitchen, but when I'm looking for inspiration, I like a cookbook.

                                                  1. ttoommyy Apr 16, 2010 12:06 PM

                                                    Post deleted.

                                                    1. flourgirl Apr 18, 2010 08:35 AM

                                                      It could very well be that future generations no longer see the need for hard copies of cookbooks - or any other books for that matter. Frankly, I don't want to be around to see that. Nothing can replace the feel of a book in my hands, the experience of turning the pages, enjoying a well-designed layout, the quality photo reproductions in a high quality book etc. And on top of the physical experience there is the experience of enjoying a well-written cookbook as an emotional and literary experience - the voice of the author, the way the recipes are tied together, the stories that the author tells about each recipe etc. I can be transported to all kinds of places and times in a way I never am on the computer. It's just not the same as getting a stand alone recipe off of the web. Some day they will have to pry my cookbook collection from my cold, dead fingers.

                                                      That said, I was having trouble really USING most of my books. I was getting a little overwhelmed when faced with the hundreds of cookbooks in my collection and I wasn't using them as much as I should have been to justify their purchase - a huge source of personal guilt for me. I still read them, but when it came time to actually MAKING something, I would too often surrender to the reality of time limitations and turn to the web instead of leafing through book after book after book trying to find just the right recipe.

                                                      Interestingly though, with the advent of the website, "Eat Your Books", I find myself back to using my collection much more often now rather than pulling a recipe off of the internet. I love that a website has enabled me to use my collection so much more efficiently and easily.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: flourgirl
                                                        h
                                                        HillJ Apr 18, 2010 10:41 AM

                                                        Do you maintain a paid membership at Eat Your Books, flourgirl? If so, do you believe the membership fee ($25, $50.) is a value? In what way?

                                                        1. re: HillJ
                                                          flourgirl Apr 18, 2010 11:14 AM

                                                          Hi Hill-

                                                          Yes, I bought the lifetime membership for $50. It's immensely valuable to me because I just have so many cookbooks (over 500 at last count) and I was getting very frustrated trying to utilize them properly. It's great for finding a recipe to use the ingredients you have on hand and it's also great for helping you find a recipe that you made in the past, but forgot which book it was in. Or sometimes I just want to try a new dish and I can find all the recipes for that dish that I have, compare them and decide which version sounds the best, or what modifications I may want to make to another recipe. Stuff like that.

                                                          And I think I've already used the site enough to jusitfy the $50.

                                                          fg

                                                          1. re: flourgirl
                                                            h
                                                            HillJ Apr 18, 2010 12:51 PM

                                                            That's remarkable. Thank you for sharing your experience. Initially, I was surprised that this online resource charges a fee and equally surprised to learn the owners have been successful at attracting paying members. How is the community experience?

                                                            1. re: HillJ
                                                              flourgirl Apr 18, 2010 02:24 PM

                                                              I haven't really gotten involved with the community much yet. Just haven't had time. Too many distractions as it is. :)

                                                              There's another "book" site called librarything that I became involved with first and that also has a paid membership. It has tons of members and a community experience as well but I don't find myself using that site much anymore now that I use "eat your books."

                                                              I think if I didn't have so many books, say less than 100 or 150, it wouldn't really be necessary. But even with my books somewhat organized by topic it was still just too daunting and took way too long for me to try to find just the recipe I was looking for in over 500+ cookbooks.

                                                              Of course, "eatyourbooks" is still evolving. They are always adding and indexing new books and I understand that they are planning on adding features like letting people add out of print books (they are currently working off of Jessica's Biscuit catalog) and possibly magazines as well.

                                                        2. re: flourgirl
                                                          s
                                                          sunnyskies12 Sep 10, 2013 09:21 PM

                                                          OMG, I was just thinking to recommend Eat Your Books to you, and then got to your last paragraph and read that you found it! Awesome! Personally I enjoy www.bigoven.com (Big Oven) even more, because I have only 5-6 cookbooks and have hand-entered my recipes into it...the shopping list feature is more precise that Eat Your Books, and they have a Menu Planning Feature that I use constantly. But for a large cookbook collection, Eat Your Books is phenomenal.

                                                        3. c
                                                          Cathy Apr 18, 2010 09:16 AM

                                                          If I have ingredients (things I bought on sale) and need a recipe, I can find a plethora by looking online. Google three ingredients and 3000 recipes show up.

                                                          I love cookbooks and have them on my bookshelves-not in the kitchen- because they are history.

                                                          I collect the group ones written/typed in the 40's and 50's. Those are history. The exotic "alligator pears" (avocadoes) used in recipes...and aparently back then, Brazil Nuts were *the* nut to use in recipes (much like macadamia nuts were *the* nut in the 80's and cashews and almonds are in everything now). Little things, like terminology (some say 'use a hand mixer if you have one or beat with a fork until no lumps')...signatures of the writers "Mrs. Joe Smith"-not "Mary Smith" and a few precursors to what have become 'convenience' items now (adding half a package of pudding mix into a box of cake mix in a 1974 church cookbook I was just reading)...

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Cathy
                                                            flourgirl Apr 18, 2010 09:22 AM

                                                            "If I have ingredients (things I bought on sale) and need a recipe, I can find a plethora by looking online. Google three ingredients and 3000 recipes show up."

                                                            This is one of the things "eat your books" does and the main reason why I am able to use my books so much more now. (This isn't meant as an attack on your post in any way, I just wanted to point out to people who might not be familiar with "eat your books" yet that this is one of the site's functions. I find it especially useful for using up stuff in my fridge and for using food I purchased at, say, the farmer's market that I want to use in the best possible way.)

                                                            1. re: flourgirl
                                                              b
                                                              Beckyleach May 11, 2010 02:50 PM

                                                              Love "Eat Your Books" so much I became a Lifetime member. Now I have an excuse to buy even more cookbooks. :-)

                                                              1. re: Beckyleach
                                                                flourgirl May 12, 2010 05:31 AM

                                                                "Now I have an excuse to buy even more cookbooks."

                                                                LOL! You and me both! :)

                                                              2. re: flourgirl
                                                                s
                                                                sunnyskies12 Dec 22, 2013 03:58 PM

                                                                I love www.eatyourbooks.com so much too! I only have six cookbooks (plus magazines), but it is still incredibly useful. I've also been hand entering my favorite recipes at www.bigoven.com, which has even more useful planning tools such as precise grocery shopping lists and menu plans. I love both websites so much. I'm thinking of giving subscriptions as gifts in the future, actually :)

                                                            2. s
                                                              sugarjunkie May 11, 2010 09:33 AM

                                                              Of course, there will be a place for cookbooks. Even though the Internet has cropped up an abundance of blogs, websites and recipe locators, there will always be those old "go to" recipes that won't appear in the new cookbooks. You know what I'm talking about -- Kentucky Hot Browns, Strawberry Cake, that recipe from Grandma's vintage 1953 Maui Cookery book that doesn't appear on the Internet. Cookbooks are expensive but there are ways to make them inexpensive. Some of you have the right idea -- library sales, tag sales, garage/estate sales, craigslist, talking with friends, neighbors, relative and colleagues. Lots of places online to purchase good quality, used cookbooks with fabulous recipes that won't appear on the Internet. It's also great to actually MAKE a cookbook of your family favorites. I'm in the process of doing that and everyone is telling me they want a copy. I've added pictures, stories and presently editing for accuracy. I look at the Internet as an "enhancement" to my ability to find and locate recipes and culinary related websites but not as a replacement for my much beloved cookbooks.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: sugarjunkie
                                                                d
                                                                DebinIndiana Dec 22, 2013 06:41 PM

                                                                I made a cookbook as a present for my kids and daughter-in-law. Are you going to print yours out? I printed copies for close family members, and provided thumb drives with the .pdf to them and to everyone else.

                                                                Am now working on the addendum.

                                                              2. b
                                                                Beckyleach May 11, 2010 02:49 PM

                                                                I still haven't found a cosy way to read a computer in bed....they hurt my eyes and they don't smell like a book. And i *read* my cookbooks...

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: Beckyleach
                                                                  buttertart May 12, 2010 09:24 AM

                                                                  Same here - and you wouldn't want to balance a laptop on the rim of the tub, would you?

                                                                  1. re: buttertart
                                                                    a
                                                                    aggiecat May 27, 2010 10:30 AM

                                                                    No, agreed, but I can put my iphone in a ziploc freezer bag and browse epicurious in the bath. :) But, seriously, there is still a place for books especially since the content on the internet is so big and so impermanent. I am still going back to recipes from my Mom's vintage 1970's Betty Crocker that are no longer in the new versions of Betty Crocker printed or otherwise. Classics that I want to be exactly the way I remember them from childhook if not nouvelle culinary masterpieces. For that, you gotta have the book. So I am always looking for good new books. Although now I tend to test drive the author/publisher's recipes via online source first so I can get a feel for questions of, how much do I like the way they work and taste, does the recipes make sense, are they easy to make (ie. have they organizaed the prep steps well, gotten the timing and logistics right, can I make this without losing my mind?) So while I might get a few Paula Deen Recipes online, I'm probably not going to buy her recipe books too because there isn't much I don't have a better easier recipe for elsewhere.

                                                                    1. re: buttertart
                                                                      r
                                                                      rasputina Sep 23, 2013 09:15 AM

                                                                      I've read on my electronic devices many many times while in the bathtub.

                                                                    2. re: Beckyleach
                                                                      r
                                                                      rasputina Sep 23, 2013 09:15 AM

                                                                      Really? I read in bed every night on my iphone or ipad depending. Smaller than many books I read, lighter too and allows me to read in many positions I could never hold a book comfortably in. Plus it comes with it's own lighting I can dim at will and turn off without getting out of bed.

                                                                    3. LMAshton Sep 17, 2013 06:05 PM

                                                                      The entire world doesn't have Internet. And for those who do have Internet, not all have high-speed Internet. Until that changes, cookbooks will still be needed.

                                                                      Additionally, there are still many, many recipes that are simply not available online in any form yet. I'm thinking specifically about Sri Lankan cuisine. While there are some recipes online, it's barely scratching the surface. I have two Sri Lankan cookbooks, both published before 1970, and both contain recipes that I would not be able to find online if my life depended on it.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: LMAshton
                                                                        s
                                                                        sunnyskies12 Dec 22, 2013 04:01 PM

                                                                        Good points!

                                                                      2. EWSflash Sep 18, 2013 08:12 PM

                                                                        yes

                                                                        1. g
                                                                          GH1618 Sep 18, 2013 08:48 PM

                                                                          I would say that people who use only online cooking references are missing out on a lot. I get an occasional recipe from an online source, but my cookbooks contain much more than recipes. My classics by Beard and others contain much kitchen wisdom which is worth reading even when not actually cooking. I don't know if Beard's books are available in online editions, but if they are, does anyone go online for anything but a recipe from them? For that matter, is there any modern food writer who publishes in online form only? Perhaps, but no one I've ever heard of.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: GH1618
                                                                            flourgirl Sep 19, 2013 08:08 AM

                                                                            This is exactly why I won't give up my cookbooks. And I just don't like electronic versions of books. I find it to be a cold and sterile experience. I love my iphone and I'm quite computer literate so I have no fear of technology - I just don't like electronic books.

                                                                            1. re: GH1618
                                                                              r
                                                                              rasputina Sep 23, 2013 09:16 AM

                                                                              I agree there is no need to limit your choices. Digital and Print both share a valued place in my life.

                                                                            2. h
                                                                              HillJ Sep 19, 2013 01:21 PM

                                                                              I agree with the book lovers. And, only books make a GREAT gift. Gifting a recipe link, nah. :- )

                                                                              Electronic formats are fine for reference, I print out plenty of notes and quick links but they don't replace the food photographs, the feel and share a book provides or the experience a really wonderful cookbook is.

                                                                              1. Michelly Sep 23, 2013 08:57 AM

                                                                                Regarding the "end of print": I know so many people who still like the feel of a book or magazine in their hand that I really don't think (and I hope I'm right) that the printed hard copy will ever be entirely replaced by electronic books.
                                                                                There was a time when frozen tv dinners were thought to entirely replace home cooking, and yes, in some households, that's the case. But all they did was increase the choices of the person responsible for preparing meals. If ebooks were totally replacing regular books, the bookstores would be ghost towns. But there are ALWAYS people there, and always a line to check out.
                                                                                The internet allows us to broaden our scope of research, but there's inspiration to be had in the printed word. I've gotten more ideas for dishes flipping through a cookbook or a food magazine than scrolling down a screen (and it's much easier on my eyes).

                                                                                1. jpr54_1 Sep 23, 2013 08:59 AM

                                                                                  of course, we still need paper cookbooks

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: jpr54_1
                                                                                    chefathome Nov 8, 2013 08:52 PM

                                                                                    My cookbooks are like dear friends to me. I love the feel, smell, look of books and need to be surrounded by them. That said, I do use my kobo on long-haul flights for convenience.

                                                                                  2. p
                                                                                    PhilipS Nov 10, 2013 10:32 AM

                                                                                    I have stopped buying cookbooks. I tend to Google certain recipes and ingredients, then print them off.

                                                                                    If they are any good, then they get added to my "scrap book" which is one of those folders with plastic sleeves.

                                                                                    I was given a large celeraic yesterday. I found a suitable recipe for soup (one from River Island) and will use that.

                                                                                    Additionally I often change a recipe. With a cookbook I have to write on a post-it pad and place it on the page, with a print-off, I can scribble it on the page.

                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: PhilipS
                                                                                      melpy Dec 16, 2013 11:58 AM

                                                                                      I write on the pages of my cookbooks. No qualms about it.
                                                                                      I don't write in my novels though, go figure.

                                                                                      1. re: melpy
                                                                                        d
                                                                                        debbiel Dec 16, 2013 04:02 PM

                                                                                        I write in all my books, lots in my cookbooks. And I'm okay with that.

                                                                                        (I also love buying a used book with someone else's margin scrawls to enjoy.)

                                                                                        1. re: debbiel
                                                                                          Will Owen Dec 17, 2013 03:33 PM

                                                                                          Scrawls and clipped-out or handwritten recipes! My favorite double score was a first edition "Cross Creek Cookery" by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings with several comments and an old postcard (or "penny-postcard" as they were called in the '50s) with a recipe written on it. The best part? The book was only $5 because of "Missing dust jacket, good cond. otherwise." But its pub date was 1942, and book publishers were printing directly onto buckram covers as a wartime paper-saving move!

                                                                                          1. re: debbiel
                                                                                            s
                                                                                            sunnyskies12 Dec 22, 2013 05:23 PM

                                                                                            I write in all of my cookbooks, too. It's such a nice way to keep track of which recipes we liked. They also get an "X" if we don't want them again, and highlighted once they've been made and loved several times.

                                                                                            1. re: debbiel
                                                                                              d
                                                                                              DebinIndiana Dec 22, 2013 06:42 PM

                                                                                              Best when the scribbles are in books you inherited.

                                                                                        2. Will Owen Dec 16, 2013 01:18 PM

                                                                                          It's interesting how many people are insisting that "print is dead." If it ever does die, we will have lost the most unfailingly permanent way of preserving information. There are works on paper over 2,000 years old, while any known electronic memory device has a much shorter lifespan than most of its users. Then there's the matter of turning all those exes and ohs into something we can read … and if you think we've finally got something that will still be current a hundred years from now, I've got some twenty-year-old SyQuest and Zip disks for you to read.

                                                                                          There is simply no more durable medium than writing or printing on paper. Flood and fire can destroy it, of course, but barring that all you need to do is keep it safe and dry, and make sure the paper is a good one. You don't even need climate control (at least in a non-jungle climate), though it helps; some of the oldest books in any known language are in Oxford's Bodleian, which I remember being described as about as cozy and comfy as a stone barn.

                                                                                          Yes, most of the recipes on this hard drive and the backup are from Google searches, and some others are pulled from email feeds I subscribe to. But with going on 700 cookbooks in the next room and downstairs, there's always both good reading and a lot of recipes handy when I want them, and the added fun of simply leafing through and finding some new treasure from simple serendipity. That used to be why I loved perusing the card files in libraries, and why I was so enraged when they were all dumped in favor of computer files: sometimes I don't know what I'm looking for, and won't until I trip over it, while other times I'll be looking for this thing and suddenly encounter that. With the dogged single-mindedness of most computer searches (especially with Windows machines) that can't really happen.

                                                                                          1. Savour Dec 16, 2013 01:32 PM

                                                                                            I'm pretty plugged in, in fact, I write a recipe blog, and it's one way I "save" some of my favorite recipes. I also have a Kindle (Multiple Kindles in our house. 3. Plus an iPad. Yes, it's getting embarrassing) and I've transitioned almost entirely to reading on the Kindle (mostly because the library process is SO EASY with e-books). But I still prefer cookbooks. When I know what I want to cook, it's about the same between finding a recipe on the web or in one of my cookbooks (particularly with Eat Your Books, which is great), But when I'm looking for inspiration, I'd much rather thumb through a cookbook than search the web, where the proportion of wheat to chaff is much lower.

                                                                                            That said, I've had just as many problems with print cookbooks as I have with web recipes. You find authors/publishers to trust either way. Most publishers aren't providing any testing budget to cookbooks these days, which means authors are paying for testing (and photography) out of (already pretty meager) book advances, if at all.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: Savour
                                                                                              flourgirl Dec 17, 2013 05:25 AM

                                                                                              We're the opposite, we have 3 people in our home, (including a 13 yr old) 2 laptops at the moment and 3 iphones. That's pretty much it. I read all the time, but I prefer real books to reading electronic media, and I can't stand the built in obsolescence etc. of electronic devices. We buy as little in the way of electronic devices as we have to, to keep up with modern life.

                                                                                            2. monsterbeans Dec 23, 2013 04:44 AM

                                                                                              I adore printed cookbooks (someone mentioned the laying on the sofa - thumbing through, it is a joy), though as someone on a low income I do balk at the price of brand new. I get them as presents or buy in charity shops. My favourite cook books have sections with information on ingredients, cuisines and techniques.

                                                                                              Many of my recipes do come from websites, though. I rewrite them with my substitutions and adapt to my kitchen, cooking style and in the case of US recipes, measuring system. They then go in my own blank recipe book.

                                                                                              1. njmarshall55 Dec 23, 2013 07:37 PM

                                                                                                In another thread, a poster categorized cookbooks as either recipe books or coffe table cookbooks. I agree that with the advent of the internet, the availability of recipes/sites provides one with the ability to save (in case a site goes away) a highly personal collection of recipes. Personally, a notebook full of carefully selected recipes in plastic sheet protectors is ALOT more useful than the old box of 5x8 cards and odd pieces of paper one would collect over the years. The tactile feel of a cookbook, obviously, cannot be duplicated, as would be with a coffee table cookbook, but that kind of book, the visual appeal rates almost as high as the recipes, IMHO. Every now and then, there IS a site (Italianfoodforever.com) that seems to combine both aspects very well.

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