Cookbooks Are Going Extinct: Is It Any Great Loss?

Amy Kuras

When I got married, one of my favorite gifts came from an old family friend. It was a recipe card that my grandmother had passed along to them many years before. Ironically, my grandmother was noted for her questionable cooking, but since she'd died several years prior, I treasured the gift.

Say what you will, you can't do that with an app.

These days, cooks might have two or three recipes we use occasionally in each cookbook we own, a file of bookmarked recipes on our computers, and probably at least a couple cooking apps on our phones. More and more well-known chefs are issuing apps, and some good recipe sites are as well.

Publishers are increasingly wondering if there's enough room in the marketplace for books, websites, and apps ... or if cookbooks are becoming like CDs, something people still buy here and there but generally prefer a digital version versus a physical copy.

I think there's enough room for all those things; some people will never, ever want to cook from a computer screen instead of an ink and paper book, and as Nigella Lawson points out, you don't really want a $200 iPhone in the kitchen where it's susceptible to getting sauce sloshed all over it. Cookbooks are bulky, but they don't short out and cost hundreds to replace if they get wet.

On the other hand, well, apps are awesome. It's so cool to have a little bitty device in your hand at, say, the farmers' market or the ethnic grocery. You can type something you find into your favorite cooking app and get several recipes back. It also lets you plan a week's worth of dinners and create a shopping list while you're waiting at school in the pickup line.

So, while apps have a place, cooks won't be able to resists the lure of a book, especially a beautiful or useful one. There's a reason tons of cookbooks come out around the holidays ... everyone likes them and they are easy gifts for even people who are hard to buy for. Sometimes, tradition and technology can exist nicely.


Image via LollyKnits/Flickr

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