Today’s cooks are increasingly relying on electronic devices. While there are no specific figures on how many tablet users are toting screens into the kitchen, the large number of protective stands, sleeves, and other items designed to keep pricey pads safe from splashes and spills indicate that cookbook consumers are becoming comfortable with the electronic format.
Indeed, the cookbook category has made serious progress in the past few years at migrating into e-books, as evidenced by the announcement from the James Beard Foundation that as of next year that organization’s awards will be open to digital cookbooks. Workman is also climbing on the e-book bandwagon with its Blue Plate Special book club, a program that offers discounted and even free e-books from its backlist for the Kindle, iPad, Nook, and iPhone. Members pay $3.99 a month to receive a monthly newsletter (via e-mail, naturally) and download seasonal recipes.
But text alone won’t cut the mustard once users make the switch. In addition to e-books, there are spin-off apps and other innovative electronic companions and cross-promotions with cookbooks. Recipes and photos are a jumping-off point.
Take Simply Ming in Your Kitchen: 80 Recipes to Watch, Learn, Cook, and Enjoy by Ming Tsai with Arthur Boehm. Kyle Books will publish the $35 hardcover in October. Additionally, there will be a 10-minute video of Ming Tsai cooking each of the 80 recipes from start to finish on his Web site, www.ming.com. A QR code in each recipe will unlock 16 of the videos for free (the rest are available for a fee) and will also provide readers with an interactive shopping list.
Anja Schmidt, U.S. publisher for Kyle Books, says, “We spoke about doing an e-book with Ming, but because he has his own studio and produces his own show, we started talking about how we could incorporate video into a bricks-and-mortar cookbook. Bill Cosby had just come out with his book that featured a few QR codes. so we thought, why not have a QR code for every recipe? We knew we were going to shoot a still photograph for each of the 80 recipes, so we decided that Ming would demonstrate each recipe on video before we shot the still.”
Another author creating this new fluidity between books and electronic media is Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis, whose latest, Weeknights with Giada (Clarkson Potter, Mar.), was paired with Giada’s Daily Bite, an app for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Nook Tablet that features tips and demonstrates correct pronunciation of Italian terms.
And Knopf recently announced that Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Selected Recipes is now available for the iPad and the Nook. The app contains 32 recipes and clips from Child’s Way to Cook videos, as well as commentary from her longtime editor Judith Jones. The original book was published more than 50 years ago.
Electronics are even making their way into the text, as is the case with Modernist Cuisine at Home, published by the Cooking Lab, a follow-up to Modernist Cuisine, which has sold more than 40,000 copies since its publication last year, even with a $625 cover price. Modernist Cuisine won three IACP Awards and the James Beard Award for Best Book of the Year. At a relatively modest $140, the new title shows readers how to use electric tools like juicers and dehydrators.
Indeed, the screen–page road is a two-way street. The number of books derived from blogs and written by (former) bloggers continues to grow. Workman executive editor Suzanne Rafer says, “The food world is [seeing] an exciting whirl of activity with countless fresh, young talent making themselves known through excellently written food blogs.” Perhaps most notably, Epicurious, one of the most popular recipe Web sites, with 8.6 million unique visitors every month, is getting into printed cookbooks with The Epicurious Cookbook by Tanya Steel and the editors of Epicurious.com (Clarkson Potter, Nov.).
At Ulysses Press, editors keep a close watch on blogs and online communities such as Pinterest to spot trends and get into niche markets early, reports acquisitions editor Kelly Reed. In June, Ulysses published Grace’s Sweet Life: Homemade Italian Desserts from Cannoli, Tiramisu, and Panna Cotta to Torte, Pizzelle, and Struffoli by Grace Langlois, an author discovered via her blog of the same name (www.gracessweetlife.com).
In October, Viking Studio will publish What Katie Ate: Recipes and Other Bits & Pieces by Katie Quinn Davis, a former art director who started a food blog with stunning photographs (whatkatieate.blogspot.com) that now receives more than 160,000 page views a month. Lucia Watson, senior editor for Gotham, Avery, and Viking Studio, says, “There is still a big opportunity and a hunger for cookbooks that are real works of art—high-end, beautifully designed, with lavish photography. This trend has dovetailed with the high level of sophistication you see now on food blogs.”
Other bloggers-turned-authors include Kelly Rudnicki, who spun her www.foodallergymama.com into The Food Allergy Mama’s Easy, Fast Family Meals: Dairy, Egg, and Nut Free Recipes for Every Day (Avery, Feb. 2013); Dan and Annie Shannon, authors of Betty Goes Vegan: Over 500 Classic Recipes for the Modern Family (Grand Central, Feb. 2013), who, inspired by Julie & Julia, set out to make every recipe in The Betty Crocker Cookbook vegan and tracked their progress on their blog, www.meettheshannons.net/p/betty-crocker-project.html; Jessica Fisher (www.lifeasmom.com and www.goodcheapeats.com) with Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook (Harvard Common Press, Nov.); and Aran Goyoaga, who blogs at www.cannellevanille.com, with Small Plates and Sweet Treats: My Family’s Journey to Gluten-Free Cooking, from the Creator of Cannelle et Vanille (Little, Brown, Oct.).
Cookbooks Go Quirky
Aside from books that literally developed from blogs, there is a bloglike quirkiness spreading throughout the category. Moira Megargee, publicity director at Interlink, says she sees “a trend toward personalized and chatty cookbooks that seem to come out of the blogging world.” Whatever you call it—artisanal, DIY, Brooklyn-style—that sensibility is coming on strong.
This fall, Stewart, Tabori & Chang will publish Home Made Winter (Sept.) by Yvette van Boven, the follow-up to the Dutch chef’s Home Made (2011), featuring more of her whimsical hand-drawn artwork. And in October, Workman will publish The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook by Liz Gutman and Jen King. The two have an artisanal candy company in Brooklyn (where else?) and the title offers recipes for Chocolate Mint Meltaways, PB&J Cups, Cherry Cordials, and their signature Beer and Pretzel Caramels.
In July, Ulysses published The Artisan Soda Workshop by Andrea Lynn, and in March 2013, Gotham will publish The Working Class Foodies’ Cookbook: 100 Delicious Organic Dishes for Under $8 by Rebecca Lando. In November, Atria will publish My Year in Meals by television personality Rachael Ray, which takes the very bloglike approach of recording what the author cooked for her own family every day for a year.
In a related theme, at Storey Publishing, Margaret Sutherland, acquisitions editor for cookbooks, reports, “Our readers want to rely less on commercially produced items and do more for themselves,” leading to titles like Preserving Wild Foods by Matthew Weingarten and Raquel Pelzel, publishing in November. Mitchell Beazley will publish Salt Sugar Smoke: How to Preserve Fruit, Vegetables, Meat, and Fish by Diana Henry in October, and Baked Elements by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, the third book from the duo that owns the hipster Brooklyn bakery Baked.
Food & Wine deputy food editor Kate Heddings agrees that interest in chef and restaurant books is declining, with growing emphasis on “single subject books that focus on honing skills and mastering one thing. Examples include charcuterie, sausage, game (hunting seems to be a popular subject this fall), preserves (canning), ice cream, coffee, pie. This ties into the idea of making your own pantry ingredients, another subject to watch for.” Forthcoming single-subject books focus on juicing (Life Foods, Live Bodies! [Square One, Jan.]) and yogurt (The Yogurt Cookbook: Recipes from Around the World [Interlink, Sept.]).
And Ten Speed senior editor Melissa Moore predicts, “I see an opportunity for new and varied international food coming soon. With the army of food trucks and pop-ups spreading across the country, many of which serve more exotic dishes than folks would otherwise encounter, I think people will be more open to authentic cookbooks from previously ignored spots.” Ten Speed Press published Heather Shouse’s Food Trucks in April 2011.
“Fearless young cooks and tastemakers are helming culinary startups across the country—like the food truck chefs and owners profiled in John T. Edge’s The Truck Food Cookbook, which we published recently,” agrees Rafer of Workman.
Sometimes the quirkiness expresses itself in regional terms. “I think with the continued popularity of the eat local movement there’s a real market for regional cookbook titles,” says Kathleen Fleury, managing editor at Down East, which is publishing Maine Home Cooking by Sandra Oliver in September and Standard Baking Co. Pastries by Alison Pray and Tara Smith, owners of the Standard Baking Company in Portland, Maine, in October.
In November, Taunton Press will publish the $24.95 paperback Joanne Weir’s Cooking Confidence: Dinner Made Simple by Joanne Weir. Carolyn Mandarano, Taunton Press senior editor for books, says, “Customers are looking for cookbooks showcasing community around food and it’s coming through loud and clear. Consumers want authors they can connect with, relate to, learn from, and share their stories with.”
“Brands that people know and trust resonate well with cookbook buyers,” says senior editor Heather Skelton at Thomas Nelson. She points to Jack Daniel’s Cookbook: Stories and Kitchen Secrets from Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House (Dec.) as one such book.
Few brands are as well-known in home kitchens as King Arthur. Kermit Hummel, editorial director of Countryman Press, a division of Norton, says, “We are looking to be the purveyor of the untrendy this fall with a new edition of our King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion—a book that was a  James Beard cookbook of the year and has continued to sell for a decade. The Smyth-sewn flexicover we are putting on this book will have the durability a cookbook deserves. And we’re publishing a 600-plus–page cookbook at a list price of $24.95.”
Another special edition of a previous favorite is the Fix-It and Forget-It PINK Cookbook by Phyllis Pellman Good and the Avon Foundation for Women, published by Good Books in October. The original Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook has sold more than five million copies. The goal with the new edition is to sell at least one million copies and raise more than $1,000,000 for the Avon Foundation’s breast cancer research and support programs.
Authors themselves can be brand names, like Carla Hall, who competed on Top Chef’s fifth season, was named “fan favorite” of the 2011 all-stars season, and now cohost’s ABC-TV’s The Chew. In November, the Free Press will publish her Cooking with Love: Comfort Food That Hugs You.
Rick Bayless is well-known for his Mexican restaurants, but also for winning the first season of Top Chef Masters in 2009. In November, Norton will publish his Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles, and Snacks, which offers 12 variations on guacamole and 35 different margaritas.
There’s an upside for readers in all the television exposure that chefs get today, according to Judy Pray, senior editor at Artisan Books. She says, “Thanks to the mainstream popularity of shows like Top Chef, people are no longer intimidated by dishes that might once have been relegated to the restaurant kitchen. Chefs are revered like rock stars, but while you may not be able to play guitar like Keith Richards, Secrets of the Best Chefs by Adam Roberts [Oct.] gives you the inside track to making pasta like Lidia Bastianich.”
Crowning a Successor To the Cupcake
Finally, cupcakes have run their course, and publishers are casting about for the next individual dessert sensation. Gibbs-Smith published Push-up Pops by Courtney Dial Whitmore in March. In September, Harvard Common Press has both Cake Balls: More Than 60 Delectable and Whimsical Sweet Spheres of Goodness by Dede Wilson and A Baker’s Field Guide to Doughnuts: More than 60 Warm and Fresh Homemade Treats by Dede Wilson. Also in September, Andrews McMeel will offer I Love Cinnamon Rolls! by Judith Fertig. In October, Chronicle will publish another Cake Pops title by blogger Angie Dudley, aka Bakerella—Cake Pops Holidays.
And in June 2013, Grand Central will publish Cristina Suarez’s No Bake Makery: 80 Two-Bite Treats Made with Lovin’, Not an Oven. The title is based on the author’s Brooklyn dessert company and blog, No Bake Makery (nobakemakery.blogspot.com). Maybe the next trend in baking is not baking at all.