Not content to rest on their laurels, three hugely popular food books are coming back to market this fall in new or revised editions. There's The Taste of Home Cookbook, whose 2006 debut from Reader's Digest has 1.5 million copies in print; Hungry Planet, a Ten Speed Press hit from 2005 that has sold more than 70,000 copies; and Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, which has sold two million copies since its 1998 launch. With such impressive sales figures, some may wonder if new audiences remain for these books, but the publishers are confident that new readers—and cooks—await.
In 2006, Reader's Digest struck gold with The Taste of Home Cookbook, a massive collection of reader-submitted recipes, homey stories and tips from home cooks across the country. The $29.95 hardcover five-ring binder sold more than 500,000 copies in less than four months and sold out on QVC. Earlier this month, RD released a second edition with new recipes and enhancements. Harold Clarke, president and publisher of Reader's Digest Trade Publishing, said that after the first edition's success, he thought: “It's like getting off a great ride at an amusement park—let's do it again!” Clarke is hoping people who bought the first cookbook will want the new recipes and features, and is also depending on buyers of the first book to purchase the second one as gifts. The revised book gives four versions of each recipe: “classic,” “time-saver,” “light” and “serves two.”
Hungry Planet by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio was a bestseller for Ten Speed and critically acclaimed, winning a James Beard Award and coming in as an IACP Cookbook Award finalist. The original book, subtitled What the World Eats, showed families around the world with a typical week's worth of food. The new edition, retitled What the World Eats, is a children's edition Ten Speed produced in response to demand from librarians and teachers. “They told us time and again that while they loved Hungry Planet, they wanted something that they could share with a younger audience,” said publicist Hayley Gonnason. Following feedback and suggestions from a focus group of librarians and booksellers, Ten Speed trimmed the book from 288 to 160 pages, eliminated families without children, edited and tightened the text, dropped some recipes and recast the statistics to include graphical representations of fast food, safe water, life expectancy rates and other stats.
And then there's How to Cook Everything (Wiley, Oct. 20), which may be the new edition most home cooks will clamor for. The 10th-anniversary hook is that it has been revitalized with updated recipes and information, new recipes, expanded chapters, charts and illustrations. “We've completely revamped HTCE,” author Mark Bittman said. “Much as I love the original, it now looks almost primitive to me; the world of home cooking has changed so much in the last 10 years, as have peoples' attitudes toward food. I think many old fans are going to want the new edition—especially since all the ones I meet tell me their old books are falling apart from heavy use—but of course we're trying to attract as many new people as we can.”