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.
And Heather Skelton, editor for the nonfiction trade group at Thomas Nelson, insists, "It doesn't seem to matter if the author has a big name or personality as long as the recipes are good and the stories are heartwarming." Yet television has still come into play for Thomas Nelson, which has found success selling Southern cookbooks on QVC. Skelton reports, "Bless Your Heart: Saving the World One Covered Dish at a Time by Patsy Caldwell and Amy Lyles Wilson  and At My Grandmother's Knee: Recipes and Memories Handed Down by Women of the South by Faye Porter [Mar.] struck a chord and both sold out within minutes of their QVC on-air debut."
While it would be an exaggeration to term vegetarian cooking a new trend in any way, the category shows no signs of slowing. Karen Murgolo, v-p and editorial director of Grand Central life and style books, says, "We realized we had a classic gem on our backlist, The Compassionate Cook: Or, ‘Please Don't Eat the Animals!' We first published this vegan cookbook by PETA, the largest animal rights organization in the world, in 1993, and, as there continues to be an increased interest in vegetarian and vegan cookbooks, its subject matter is more relevant than ever, so we're reissuing it for a new generation." The $13.99 paperback is slated for September.
Among other upcoming offerings is Bean by Bean by veggie veteran Crescent Dragonwagon, to be published by Workman in December. Da Capo, too, has a long roster of forthcoming vegetarian and vegan books, as well as gluten-free and raw food options, including Ani's Raw Food Asia by Ani Phyo (May) and Vegan Pie in the Sky by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (Nov.). V-p and senior director of publicity Lissa Warren says, "With the state of the current economy, people don't have the money to eat out and are looking to cook more at home—but they also may not have the money for hardcover cookbooks. We're meeting this need by publishing all of these books as paperback originals."
Indeed, the economy is pushing more people to do-it-themselves, leading to books such as Home Made by Yvette van Boven (Stewart Tabori & Chang, Oct.), inspired by the success of last year's Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff, which continues to sell briskly for the house. The Fresh Egg Cookbook by Jennifer Trainer Thompson (Storey, Jan.) is for consumers who want to keep their own chicken coops.
St. Martin's Press executive editor Michael Flamini says, "The recession has made people weary of those restaurants where the entrees start at $30. Consequently, people are learning how to be good home cooks all over again. For evidence of that, you need look no further than places where good cooks congregate, like Amanda Hesser's www.food52.com Web site. For my part, I'm concentrating on those books that people can use to make good, affordable food at home that has a little twist, is healthy, and is definitely kid-friendly." Forthcoming titles include Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois (Nov.)
There is also a trend toward "cooking school" style books, such as Cooking with Chocolate, edited by Frédéric Bau, the creative director and executive chef of l'École du Grand Chocolat Valrhona (Flammarion, Oct.), which includes a 90-minute DVD.
In The Kitchen Counter Cooking School (Viking, Oct.), author Kathleen Flinn teaches nine kitchen know-nothings to prepare food at home. And in Your Time to Bake (SquareOne, Feb.), Robert L. Blakeslee builds on the success of Your Time to Cook (which won Best Cookbook Title from the Independent Book Publishers Association at BEA in New York). Your Time to Cook will be issued in paperback next year. In September, DK will publish the 544-page Illustrated Step-by-Step Baking.
Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned about the cookbook category is something any cook knows: cream rises to the top. St. Martin's Press executive editor Elizabeth Beier says, "What continues to work are books cooks want to linger over—and give as gifts or discuss with their friends. A great cookbook can provide every bit as many talking points as book club fiction for truly enthusiastic home cooks."
Dinner and a (Dead) Movie (Star)
If you'd relish a chance to rifle through the cabinets of the rich and famous, Frank DeCaro's The Dead Celebrity Cookbook: A Resurrection of Recipes from More than 145 Stars of Stage and Screen (HCI, Oct.) is for you. The title, which is to enjoy a 25,000-copy first printing, compiles recipes ranging from Lucille Ball's persimmon cake to Ricardo Montalban's carne asada.
Author Frank DeCaro was the movie critic for almost seven years on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He now hosts The Frank DeCaro Show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
To promote the title, DeCaro
will create a YouTube video along the lines of "Betty White Lines," a 2010 rap tribute to
the Golden Girls star that garnered more than 100,000 hits in its first week online. The video went on to be featured on The Today Show.—N.D.
Top Chefs Turn into Top Authors
Television is widely recognized as one of the most solid platforms for a cookbook author, so it's no surprise that a number of former contestants on Top Chef on Bravo—a cooking show competition that debuted in 2006—have published cookbooks.
Sam Talbot didn't just place third and get voted "fan favorite" in season two—he also spoke openly on the show about having diabetes, and in October Rodale will publish The Sweet Life: Diabetes Without Borders (see "Why I Write," p. 20).
Stephanie Izard, chef/owner of Girl & the Goat restaurant in Chicago, won the fourth season of Top Chef and is to date the only woman to do so. In November, Chronicle will publish Girl in the Kitchen: How a Top Chef Cooks, Thinks, Shops, Eats, and Drinks. "This book showcases Izard's creative process, her talent for unexpected ingredient combinations, and her expertise in beer and wine pairings, all tailored for the home cook—in fact, all of the recipes were tested in her tiny apartment kitchen," reports associate editor, food and drink, Sarah Billingsley. Izard's fall tour will be a fund-raising partnership with Share Our Strength.
Season six of Top Chef featured a fascinating duo—brothers Michael and Bryan Voltaggio were winner and second-place finisher, respectively. Viewers thrilled to both their innovative cooking and the sibling drama. Now the accomplished brothers (Bryan Voltaggio is chef/owner of Volt in Frederick, Md.; Michael Voltaggio is chef de cuisine at the Dining Room at the Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa in Pasadena, Calif.) have teamed up on VOLT ink.: Recipes, Stories, Brothers, a $40 hardcover to be published by Weldon Owen in October. —N.D.
The Cookbook Oscars
Every year at the Paris Cookbook Fair, the winners of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards are announced. The awards, founded by Edouard Cointreau in 1995, are intended to honor "those who cook with words."
Competition is tight. For the most recent competition, more than 8,000 books were submitted from 154 countries. Award categories include chef books, books for professionals, innovative books, and books by TV celebrity chefs. Winners receive stickers for their book jackets. The submission deadline is November 15, and the awards in 45 categories will be announced on March 6, 2012, at Theatre Les Folie Bergère in France, the eve of the Paris Cookbook Fair, which, after last year's successful show, adds a third day for professionals, in addition to the two days open to the public, making for a five-day event.
For more information, visit www.cookbookfair.com. —N.D.