Allrecipes.com has over 7 million hits in a month.
Heidi Swanson’s 101cookbooks.com online recipe site receivers over 3 million hits a month.
More blogs are receiving more attention and awards. Building your online recipe site only seems to increase in popularity.
With all the attention and social media attention surrounding food blogging and online recipe sites, do cookbooks stand a chance?
In one word: yes.
In fact, Nielsen Book Scan states cookbooks are one of the only books showing a positive growth in sales, according to 2009-2010 data.
It is fascinating to see a single sector of books succeed in an industry that continues to take such a beating. We see bookstores closing or declaring bankruptcy, yet, small specialized cooking book stores are doing o.k.
Why do you think cookbooks continue to sell strong?
Nielsen and other experts attribute the staying power of cookbook sales to a few things:
1. During the recession, people started cooking more at home.
2. Cooking at home is less expensive than eating out.
3. More people are interested in eating healthy as well as controlling what goes into their foods.
I agree with the experts. Cooking at home is incredibly more healthy than eating out. I believe in the power of home cooking and the building of relationships in the kitchen and around the table. Eating out (or even bringing “take out” meals home) doesn’t begin to compare in enriching relationships like cooking together and eating together at home does.
But honestly, my opinion on why people continue to buy cookbooks is not that deep.
I think people really like picture-filled cookbooks! Cookbooks are gorgeous- especially today’s cookbook. I flipped through old cookbooks in my mom’s kitchen cabinet. I was shocked at the poor photography in cookbooks from twenty years ago. Pictures today are beautiful. Many people buy cookbooks and simply absorb them like a novel, turning them page by page, marking the recipes they want to try and enjoying the visual experience.
Second, the experience of looking at a cookbook on a Kindle is not the same. The visual part of the cookbook is not transferred the same to digital media as traditional nonfiction and fiction titles.
Third, there is something quite nostalgic about cookbooks that isn’t found online. Cookbooks, like a good novel, bring us to another place, another time, a small escape from the here and now. I look at our family cookbook and hear my grandma’s laughter and see her shuffle through the kitchen, her dark eyes sparkling as we talk. I look through Dorie Greenspan’s book, Baking, and I transport myself to Paris at the marketplace, picking over fresh fruit for a fresh summer berry and peach galette.
Finally, the home chef is a bit of an adventurer. Not only do we like the tried and true, we like to step out on a limb and learn a new technique, a new recipe. We like the new group of chefs that cook well and combing their cooking with their life.
We like cookbooks. It may be faster to jump online when I want to find a new recipe for salmon. Millions of people do that all the time.
But many more continue to use tried and true cookbooks and experiment with new ideas. Right now, I have the 25th Anniversary edition of the “Silver Palate” and “America’s Test Kitchen Best of Summer Desserts: on my reading/cooking lists.
What cookbook are you using right now?