Some days, it seems as if the Internet is going to kill off cookbooks. With Web sites from Epicurious (www.epicurious.com) to Chow (www.chow.com) serving up recipes for free, who needs to shell out for a book? "The vast database of recipes online pushes us all to be more creative and more relevant," says Hannah Rahill, v-p and publisher, at Weldon Owen.
Yet the Internet is bolstering the cookbook category, too, as food bloggers morph into authors and blogs move from screen to page. See They Draw and Cook: 107 Recipes Illustrated by Artists from Around the World (Weldon Owen, Oct.), based on a popular blog.
This month, Harlequin will publish Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love by Sarah Matheny, whose blog of the same name has more than 150,000 monthly readers. Executive editor Deb Brody says, "We are, of course, looking for authors with strong platforms, and increasingly that means having a popular blog. We've found that even though recipes are available for free on the blogs, fans are still willing to pay for a cookbook where everything is in one place and is easily searchable."
"TV is still a key sales driver," says Natalie Chapman, v-p and publisher, culinary publishing, at Wiley, which has seen good sales of Eric Ripert's Avec Eric (2010), a PBS show tie-in; Top Chef contestant Spike Mendelsohn's The Good Stuff Cookbook (2010); and Simply Done, Well Done from Food Network star Aaron McCargo (Apr.). "However," Chapman continues, "blogs are increasingly important as a source of fresh talent and a way to cultivate an audience of like-minded people. In September we're publishing Good Bite Weeknight Meals, which features recipes from today's best food bloggers, such as Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen and Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes. Blogs are now serving as the proving ground for new voices the way magazines did in the past."
Lucia Watson, senior editor at Avery and Viking Studio, reports that OMG Pancakes!: 75 Cool Creations Your Kids Will Love to Eat by Jim Belosic (Oct.) is based on the site jimspancakes.com, which was launched last year and has 500,000 unique visitors each month.
Of course, the digital world offers other support in the form of online marketing and other electronic ventures. For example, in August, DK will launch its first recipe app, Quick Cook. "The app is based on the bestselling recipe bible of the same name. It has features for making shopping lists, planning menus for a meal or a week, and searching for recipes that use what's in your fridge," reports Mary-Clare Jerram, publisher, DK Lifestyle.
Additionally, authors themselves often have active Web sites of their own. Debra Samuels hosts the charming Cooking at Debra's (www.cookingatdebras.com), where she is promoting her forthcoming book My Japanese Table: A Lifetime of Cooking with Friends and Family (Tuttle, Sept.).
Nick Malgieri, author of 10 baking books, was surprised and delighted when a previously unknown-to-him blogger created the Modern Baker challenge (modernbakerchallenge.wordpress.com), in which a group of 20 or so people tested the recipes from his 2008 book, The Modern Baker (published by DK) and reported on the results. The paperback will be out in the fall, and to show his appreciation, Malgieri will provide a signed copy to each of the group's members. Malgieri is also the author of BAKE! (Kyle Books, 2010) and is currently working on a bread book for Kyle Books, so he particularly appreciated the group's input about his baguette recipe from The Modern Baker as well as that members took pains not to reproduce the recipes in their entirety online.
More generally, Malgieri notes that YouTube and other on-line sources are invaluable for researching recipes. He reports, "Online sources such as YouTube's amateur cooking videos give a perspective on foreign recipes that once would have involved travel and a fortunate introduction to a home cook to gain. The best feature is seeing the actual local ingredients involved in a recipe, unaltered to accommodate a chef's, author's, or TV host's prejudices or requirements."
Holding On to Traditional Platforms
Any excitement over books with Internet platforms, however, does not negate that authors with the platforms that have reigned supreme in this category for the past few years—television shows and restaurants—are still sought by publishers.
Food Network chefs continue to turn out books. Look for Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible: The New Classic Guide to Delicious Dishes with More than 300 Recipes from Simon & Schuster in October. Andrews McMeel will publish Robin Takes 5! 500 Recipes, 5 Ingredients or Less, 500 Calories or Less, 5 Nights a Week at 5:00 PM! by Robin Miller, star of the Food Network program Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller, in November. Rodale will publish Food Network host Tyler Florence's Fresh: A New Perspective on Healthy Cooking, One Simple Idea in December. In October, Hyperion will publish 200,000 copies of Food Network host Sandra Lee's Money Saving Meals and Round 2 Recipes. Morrow will publish the latest from one of the Food Network's first stars, Emeril Lagasse, Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders in September and Food Network Star: The Official Insider's Guide to America's Hottest Food Show in August. In October, Kyle Books will publish Seoultown Kitchen by Debbie Lee, who was a Next Food Network Star finalist.
The list goes on: in November, the Free Press will publish Baking with the Cake Boss by Buddy Valastro, whose hit TLC show Cake Boss is now in its fourth season. Vikas Khanna, author of Flavors First (Lake Isle Press, Aug.) made a name for himself cooking at the New York City restaurants Salaam Bombay and Junoon, as well as with appearances on Hell's Kitchen and Throwdown with Bobby Flay.
Ballantine editor-at-large Pamela Cannon says, "Publishers continue to seek out as close to a sure thing as possible—essentially the broadest media and retail platforms already in place for an author in advance of publication." Ballantine will publish both Nadia G's Bitchin' Kitchen: Cookin' for Trouble by Cooking Channel host Nadia G and Lorena Garcia's New Latin Classics by Lorena Garcia (who gained visibility as a judge on NBC's America's Great Next Restaurant) in September and The Meatball Shop Cookbook by Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow, owners of the popular downtown New York restaurant, in November.
"The more crowded the marketplace, the more important it is to have authors who are energetic and have marketing savvy," Skyhorse associate publisher Bill Wolfsthal says. In October, the press will publish the $24.95 hardcover Dos Caminos Mexican Street Food: 120 Authentic Recipes to Make at Home by Ivy Stark with Joanna Pruess. Stark is executive chef at the seven-restaurant Dos Caminos chain. And one of New York City's classic restaurants is represented in Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook by chef Daniel Humm and the restaurant's general manager, Will Guidara (Little, Brown, Nov.).
"We've been blown away by the advances from our fall Food Network celebrities—Anne Burrell's Cook Like a Rock Star, Bobby Flay's Bar Americain Cookbook, and Marcela Valladolid's Mexican Made Easy," says Rica Allannic, senior editor at Clarkson Potter.
Not everyone is a fan, however, of cookbooks showcasing restaurant stars. Perigee publisher John Duff says, "We have pretty well stepped aside from publishing the traditional full-color, restaurant or chef-inspired cookbooks. Rather we are finding a profitable niche in the health and specialty categories, in popular food reference, drinks, or contemporary takes on traditional food ways." Examples include I'm Mad as Hell, and I'm Not Going to Eat It Anymore: Taking Control of Your Health and Your Life—One Recipe at a Time by Christina Pirello, publishing in January. Pirello may not be behind the burners of a fancy restaurant, but she is the host of public television's longest running show on vegetarian cooking.