Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Oct 31, 2013 12:20 AM

A Rant! About the evolution of books. Cookbooks especially!

Okay, we've had discussions before about our cookbooks, how many we have, whether we cook from them or just read them... All kinds of interesting stuff like that, BUT.....! Is anyone else ticked off at the way "books" are going in the world today? I'm talking about eBooks. And eMovies. And electronic whatevers.

I have a hundred or so cookbooks in my hard copy collection. A couple of genuine first editions, like Mrs. Beeton's, replete with hand colored plates and tissue overlays bound right into the pages in that fine leather cover. You just can't get that kind of "touch and love" and yes, even a sense of companionship from an eBook. But there's more to it than that. If you buy an eBook from Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, you can't loan it to a friend. Well, you can if you want to loan them your eReader too.

In another thread someone mentioned the stories her hard bound cook books tell about her family's joy for certain recipes. She can tell which ones by the cooking splashes on the pages from using the actual cookbook in the kitchen. And that's another thing you cannot get from an eBook. Yes! You can take your Kindle or your Nook or your whatever eReader into the kitchen, and it will prop quite nicely into a recipe book holder, but... if you lift the beater from the merangue too soon and plop a big smear on it, you just wipe off the screen and all record of how much your family loves your Pavlova is gone! No one will ever know.

And then there is the question of whether you REALLY own an eBook? How can you own it if you can't loan it to someone? Yeah... I have a Kindle "paper white." And I have a tablet PC that does all of that kind of thing too. I have, oh, I don't know, maybe 20 or so electronic cook books on my Kindle. But I don't really feel as if any of them are mine. "Owning" any sort of eBook makes me feel as if I'm constantly reading over someone else's shoulder. I can't put the eBook on my bookshelf. I can't loan it to anyone. I can't smudge the pages with chocolate frosting or Burgundy wine... THAT means it is not MY cookbook! I'm just reading over someone's shoulder! So then, how come I paid so much for the damned thing?

The glory of real hard bound books is that you can love them, touch them, and put them on your bookshelves. I have at least several hundreds of books, not all of which are cookbooks, but a real bona fide home library. I learned a long time ago not to loan out any books. If someone I enjoy shows a genuine interest in one of my books, they're welcome to read it... in MY house! Or I might well buy a copy for the friend as a gift, but I will never loan them my copy to read at their home!

I have close to as many books on my Kindle as I have in my home... BUT... The big difference is that people can come into my home, glance over my books, including my cook books, and they will know more about me than they did before that. What kind of clues will someone get about me by looking at my Kindle? And wouldn't all of my three rooms of bookshelves look ridiculous bare naked with a Kindle sitting on one shelf?


Or think of it this way: Your books -- all of your books -- are a record of who you are... and.... AND...


Rant over. Thanks for reading! CBS cares! '-)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I have been reading and making ebooks for ten years. I don't know why you're so upset about their existence. As for me, I would like to replace most of my several thousand deadtree books with ebooks, leaving me with one bookcase full of books that are beautiful or better in paper. (I also have close to 3000 ebooks stored in my Dropbox.) I can carry dozens of ebooks on my iPod, to read whenever and wherever; I can read in bed on a backlit screen; I can read a book with one hand, lying down.

    I think i'd keep my cookbooks ... but eventually we'll probably have nice e-versions. They will probably include videos. When I was editing cookbooks, I frequently used YouTube to research techniques and recipes that I hadn't personally used. Descriptions of how to prepare squid for cooking pale in comparison to a video showing the whole process.

    Lighten up :)

    3 Replies
    1. re: Felila

      Et tu... Have you no humor? What will you do in a power failure? Or in a cyber war when electronics are wiped out? Lescaaux is still with us... Maybe rotting from human breath, but still with us. What sort of eBooks will be around for archaeologists to uncover in a million years? Yes, my dear editor, lighten up~ '-)

      1. re: Caroline1

        How about when the kindle becomes self aware? o.0

    2. I do enjoy actual books but there is a place for e books. Far easier to read a book on my phone at the airport than to lug several around. Not everyone can dedicate a cabinet to cookbooks. Also of the few cookbooks I have, I have maybe a dozen recipes in each that I use, the other pages are just taking space.

      I find most of my recipes on online sites like blogs now. The pictures are excellent, as are people's comments. Can't get that from a book.

      When I want to share a recipe with a friend, I either copy and paste the link, show them in person, or email them a screen shot.

      I don't refer to cookbooks when I'm in the kitchen because I often don't have the counter space, plus I hate getting stains on books. So I study the recipe, then take an envelope from some bills or junk mail (meaning junk mail or junk mail), reverse the envelope if need be, then write the ingredients and instructions in my shorthand. This way i can modify as I like, often because I cut recipes in half. After, I either toss the sheet in the recycling or stick it on the fridge.

      Also, I like trees :)

      2 Replies
      1. re: youareabunny

        I like trees too! My pecan trees bent to the ground this year! Despite having fun with my rant, I do appreciate the lightness of a heavyweight book on a tablet pc for reading in bed. It's a lot less damaging to have a Kindle pop you in the nose if you drift off rather than the OED! '-)

        1. re: Caroline1

          I'm not so sure about that. I was reading in bed with my tablet and dropped it on my head (don't ask- I'm one of those people with "special" coordination skills). I had a goose egg for a week. Then when asked why, I have to admit to dropping the dang thing ON MY HEAD. oh embarrassing...

      2. Allow me to offer the perspective of a retired Soldier on ebooks.

        Back when I joined the Army in the mid-80's, during the old Cold War days, I was lucky to be able to cram a couple of paperbacks into my rucksack whenever we had to rotate through postings along the old East German and Czech borders.

        For sixty to ninety days during those border patrols, I was usually stuck reading the same two books, unless I could find someone to trade with (excluding US Army Field Manuals and Training Manuals, ugh).

        This was the standard routine for many many years, until my lovely wife bought me a Sony Reader stuffed with one gb of books. I can say without a doubt, that having that many books on hand helped make the Sandbox a far more bearable place.

        Also a reader, flash drive, and hand scanner has made it possible for me to scan virtual copies of my own library of books (a few hundred), download them onto several flash drives, and made it possible to carry my whole library in my pocket when my son and I went hunting a few months ago.

        While ebooks don't replace my real books, they do supplement them nicely; and yes, I do own my ebooks.

        Meanwhile back in the mid-80's, there's a much younger version of myself cursing his crap luck as he has to decide which two books he could pack into his already overfull rucksack.

        I love my ebooks almost as much as I love my real books.

        1 Reply
        1. re: deet13

          Love your story. In the late '50s, I was Service Club Director at Incirlik Air Force Base, in Adana, Turkey (talk about the Cold War!), and one of our problems was getting enough books in the base library, imported from USAF libraries closing down in other parts of the world. EVERYTHING was censored at that time by a now-overthrown Turkish government, so when that U2 spy plane was shot down, USAF pilots had to smuggle in contraband copies of NYTimes, Newsweek, Time, etc. from other European countries that they flew missions to so us peons could find out what was going on.

          At age 80, I am truly becoming a curmudgeon. I do have to wonder about what the future will be for my grandson's grandson. Maybe 80 years is too long an overview, but it just irks the hell out of me that whenever I have a doctor appointment, there are no more Newsweeks to read in the waiting room! On the other hand, I do have subscriptions to about a hundred magazines for about fifteen bucks a month through "New Issue" on my Lenovo Windows tablet. I guess if I want to read Newsweek in a doctor's office, I'll have to take my tablet PC along with me....

          Which begs the question: As more and more print media goes electronic, will doctor waiting rooms of the future have racks of loaner eBook readers? I hope so! I'm SICK of Car and Driver! '-)

        2. I refuse to read ebooks or buy a Kindle/Nook. There is nothing like holding a book in your hand and turning the pages. Nothing.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Jerseygirl111

            I don't necessarily refuse but I don't have one. I have been offered but for some reason I always decline. I have tried reading some things like this on other people's tablets and I physically can't do it and would probably never finish the book.

            1. re: melpy

              It's not much different from reading cooking blogs or long forum threads?

              Anyway I have a phone and a tablet which can both accept ebooks. Not sure id get a kindle or anything that's specifically for ebooks

              1. re: youareabunny

                I only have the phone. I do read things on there but I have never read any of the novels I downloaded.

            2. re: Jerseygirl111

              Me too. I regularly get books from the public library.

              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                If I had a nickel for every time I heard that from a friend who know owns a Kindle....

                I love books, always have, own over a thousand (mostly boxed and in storage). But the convenience of going on a 2 week vacation with an ereader or tablet loaded with dozens of books is simply unbeatable.

              2. I certainly know what you mean and I have a large book collection, cookbooks and others. But I see plenty of value in ebooks. And, you know, they're the future.

                I don't own a Kindle or an ereader however I have an iPhone, an iPad, and a laptop, all of which are capable of handling ebooks. My library system is now loaning ebooks - I love them. No need to worry about overdue charges as they automatically expire.

                Mostly, I use recipes from the internet even if the original source is a hard copy book I own. It's easier! And I *LOVE* cooking videos. So so so much easier to watch and learn than to read and learn, for me.

                1 Reply
                1. re: tcamp

                  "But I see plenty of value in ebooks. And, you know, they're the future. "

                  I see value in them too. What I don't understand (well, I do, but let it be) is why every new useful technological breakthrough is never allowed to simply be a useful addition to our already established useful technologies - but somehow has to become THE FUTURE that wipes out all previous useful technologies. Until it too is replaced.

                  It makes it so hard for me to enjoy the very real advantages that ebooks have if publishers keep screaming at me that THE PRINTED BOOK IS DEAD. Jesus!!! Why? Why can't we enjoy both ebooks AND printed books?