In January, Meredith Corporation quietly launched Mixing Bowl, a social networking site about cooking. Emphasizing user-generated content, the site invites home cooks to exchange recipes, share photos, participate in contests and post messages. The site is approaching 12,000 members, which Meredith v-p and general manager Jeff Myers said is “ahead of expectations.” Next month, Meredith will begin an aggressive marketing campaign for Mixing Bowl, start a companion print magazine—and start launching cookbook authors through the site.

“Mixing Bowl is built around people,” Myers said. “More and more cooks are going online to find recipes, plan meals and connect with others who share their passion for food.” The site doesn’t currently promote chefs or cookbooks, but “that’ll be something that will begin to kick in now,” said Myers. Starting this summer, Mixing Bowl will let authors and cookbook brands create groups and fan pages, and Meredith is inviting all publishers to participate. Fans of specific groups can share it in their Facebook news feed, which Myers said will expand Mixing Bowl’s reach considerably.

“The reality is, you sell far more books through people who share their passion. When you can get people sharing with the people who trust them, then you have an ability to really drive sales,” Myers said. Late last year, Meredith partnered with Wiley on its book program (Meredith creates content; Wiley handles layout, design, printing, sales, marketing, distribution and inventory management). Myers said Meredith is working on creating fan pages for its cookbook authors, which include Sandra Lee and the Better Homes & Gardens franchise. Fan pages will be populated with recipes from cookbooks, both backlist and forthcoming, and will let Mixing Bowl users interact with the authors. “As the book launches get closer, we'll have a live community that’s very robust,” said Myers.

Mixing Bowl is the latest addition to The Meredith Women’s Network, a portfolio of digital properties that attracts15 million unique visitors monthly, according to Omniture. Jack Griffin, president of Meredith Publishing Group, said, “Mixing Bowl significantly enriches our strategic goal of deepening our conversation with women on all platforms, but particularly within the digital space,” says “We believe it strongly positions Meredith for growth in this key strategic sector of our media business.”

Meredith will promote Mixing Bowl in Meredith magazines, which include Better Homes & Gardens, Parents and Fitness.