Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Are Cookbooks an Endangered Species?

I have long been a voracious reader. I love to hold an actual book in my hand. I am not a fan of E-books, online books, as reading them is not the same, having to spend hours staring at a computer screen. I do use the Internet for research but I still buy plenty of books.

But what about a specific type of book, the cookbook? Is it an endangered species?

The Internet probably contains hundreds of thousands of recipes. For example, All Recipes contains over 40,000 recipes. Examples of other sites containing numerous recipes include Epicurious, Recipe.Com, Recipe Source, and Cooks.Com. You can find recipes for all types of cuisines, using any type of ingredient.

So, with all these recipes available, why would anyone want to buy a cookbook?

First, it can be difficult sometimes to search for a particular recipe online. It may take a lot of time to find exactly what you want. Thus, it may not be as convenient as just checking a cookbook. The recipe websites seem most useful for experienced users. For a casual searcher, they can be frustrating. A good cookbook can also give you several recipes for the same meal, from appetizer to dessert. Easier to find than searching online for all the different courses.

Second, if time is short, cookbooks are probably quicker and easier to use than checking the Internet. Check a cookbook index and find a recipe. Less than a minute. Turn on the computer, let it start up, do a search for a recipe, print it out. Much longer.

Third, and what is important to me, is the issue of credibility. Who do you trust to give you a recipe? Some of the online recipe sites are compiled by voluntary submissions. Yet you may not have much information on the background of the contributor. So, how do you know you can trust the recipe? How do you know it will be good? With a cookbook, you usually have much more information on the author/chef. So, you can better judge their credibility. To me, that is an important reason for a cookbook.

Fourth, good cookbooks give you more than just recipes. They often discuss cooking techniques, ingredients, suppliers and much more. All this in one book. Online, you might have to go to multiple sites to find all of the same information. Or on one site, you might have to journey to various pages.

Other reasons include that cookbooks can be visually stunning and cookbooks can contain recipes that you won't find anywhere else.

No, cookbooks are not an endangered species. Or at least they shouldn't be. I'll keep buying cookbooks and hope others do as well.

Part of what generated this topic is that I have received a few review copies of some new cookbooks from Random House. If I like any of the cookbooks, I will review them here. I am under no obligation to review them. It is solely up to me. And I will only review them if I think they will benefit my readers.


Lisa K said...

IMO, cookbooks are DEFINITELY not endangered! I love them - I read them like novels. If you do run across someone who thinks they are endangered, tell them to send theirs to me. =)

Great blog!

Richard Auffrey said...

Hi Lisa and welcome to my blog. Thanks for your comments. I am glad to see there are others who savor cookbooks too.