For a recap of 2010 in publishing, you can read literary agent Richard Curtis’s annual end-of-the-year poem, which ran in PW last week. But if it’s cookbooks you’re interested in, check out this hit list of some of our favorite cookbook-related stories from 2010, along with follow-up addendums giving an update to what’s happened since we covered the story.
January: James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Rozanne Gold heard Condé Nast was selling Gourmet’s collection of 3,500 cookbooks and that NYU’s Fales Library wanted to buy them. She couldn’t stop herself from getting involved—and giving the library $14,000 to acquire the archive.
Update: Marvin J. Taylor, director of Fales Library and Special Collections at New York University, says the library has processed about 75% of the collection so far. “I thought we would already have had most of the collection, but it looks like more than half of the books are ones we didn't already own,” he says. As of last week, they’ve catalogued 2,462 titles.
April: While experts at January's Fancy Food Show declared coconut, exotic citrus, and gluten-free some of the top food trends of 2010, cookbook publishing isn't quite so cutting edge. A look at the pipeline for spring and summer 2010 showed that... surprise! Local foods were hot! At least 10 books from major houses, many by established authors or from well-known brands, contained the words "local" or "farmer's market" in their titles or subtitles.
Update: For all the hoopla, most of the books on the many best-cookbooks-of-the-year lists aren’t locally focused. There are exceptions, of course, like Amy Pennington’s Urban Pantry, but for the most part, editors are looking to books on meat, baking, and ethnic and exotic cuisines when putting together their annual “best of” lists this year.
April: Real Housewife of New Jersey Teresa Giudice's Skinny Italian (Hyperion, May), promised delicious-and healthy-recipes. Over coffee at a New Jersey restaurant (Giudice takes hers with half-and-half and two spoons of sugar) she revealed a few secrets to eating well and looking hot.
Update: Giudice has gone on to sell a second book, Fabulicious!: The Italian Family, to Running Press. It will reportedly highlight "easy, budget-friendly recipes that will please the whole family." Look for it in spring 2011.
May: We interviewed Kiyo Marsh and Laura Cooper, masters of what you might call "extreme cooking," picking up their skills in their jobs as boat cooks (and deck hands) on Alaskan commercial fishing boats. Along with Kiyo's sister, Tomi, they wrote The Fishes & Dishes Cookbook: Seafood Recipes and Salty Stories from Alaska's Commercial Fisherwomen (Epicenter Press), an IndieBound notable pick for May.
Update: According to Kent Sturgis of Epicenter Press, F&D has sold 12,000 copies to date (which qualify as “bestselling numbers in our world,” said Sturgis). The house is awaiting delivery of a third printing of 5,000 copies. One bookstore, Parnassus Books in Ketchikan, Alaska, has sold nearly 500 copies. Major national media has yet to pick the book up, although regional coverage has been significant, and the authors are scheduled to appear on on Robin Young's show Here & Now on WBUR, Boston’s NPR news source, by the end of January.
June: At a Book Expo where convention-goers walked past piles of printed galleys on their way to conferences about e-books, e-readers, and e-everything, it was fitting that the panel "The Future of Food Writing and Cookbook Publishing" featured a mix of old- and new-school opinions.
Update: Five months later, PW hosted a panel on what’s driving the strength of cookbook publishing, touching on some similar issues. Clarkson Potter editor Doris Cooper, EatYourBooks.com’s Jane Kelly, Cookstr’s Will Schwalbe, and Bruce Shaw from the Harvard Common Press all agreed that physical cookbooks fulfill a consumer desire that isn't fulfilled on a cooking web site, and books remain popular, especially as gifts. Cooper, however, said she was somewhat wary about putting too many recipes from Clarkson Potter books online, and said the publisher carefully considers how many recipes to post, not wanting those people who would pay $35 for a book to "feel gypped."… which leads us to another update: last week Clarkson Potter announced it now has 88 of its (and Ten Speed Press’s) bestselling cookbooks available in e-format.
June: David Feller, a veteran of Half.com and eBay and longtime cooking enthusiast, was fed up with what he calls the limitations and inaccuracies of online cooking sites, so he launched Yummly. Its hook: the site helps users find recipes based on their tastes. Of interest to publishers: Yummly is actively seeking cookbook content.
Update: Yummly now has more than 500,000 recipes in its database. One new feature on the site allows anyone to submit a recipe, and if that recipe is from a cookbook, users can type in the ISBN of the cookbook, which prompts Yummly to import information about the book and provide a link in the recipe to buy the book.
August: Cookware heavy hitter Williams-Sonoma acknowledged the expertise and power to move books of one independent bookseller. Starting August 2, each of Williams-Sonoma's 259 stores began recommending a cookbook chosen by Celia Sack, owner of Omnivore Books on Food in San Francisco, in a feature called "Omnivore Recommends."
Update: Sack says things are going well; she bases her picks (“somewhat loosely”) on the store theme for the month (e.g., Encyclopedia of Pasta for a Tuscany theme). Sack’s January pick is Mad Hungry: Cooking for Men and Boys by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Artisan, 2009) and she’s also choosing antiquarian books for W-S’s top 29 stores, concentrating on regional titles (e.g., Old Boston Taverns went to the chain’s Boston anchor store).