Dispatches from the Digital Revolution

Holiday e-cookbooks: Can they trump food blogs?

Let's Talk Turkey


Now that Thanksgiving is less than a month away, holiday worries creep in: What will I cook? What outfits are safe from in-law scrutiny (that also expand at the waist)? Further, what on earth will I buy them for Christmas? Analysts already predict holiday spending to rise this year, and content providers are banking on two sources of holiday angst: gifts and food. As they fight to monetize digital, one natural solution is…holiday e-cookbooks!

Hearst, at least, seems to think so. Partnering with digital provider Open Road, they will compile an ebook filled with magazine recipes called Let’s Talk Turkey. The compilation, sold online for $3.99, will include 100 holiday recipes from Hearst publications like herb oyster stuffing from Good Housekeeping and pumpkin pie from Redbook. The ebook will tout mouth-watering, high-resolution images for tablets, which recipe-pinning Pinterest fanatics might appreciate. This isn’t Hearst’s first foray into cookbook ebooks; last fall, they released a series of Good Housekeeping mini cookbooks for the iPad and Nook. The fact that they remained mum on its success and are forging ahead a year later may hint at some traction, but they do have obstacles.



If Hearst and other content providers want to produce e-cookbooks in the $0.99 – $4.99 range, they will have to compete with food blogs that offer fast, searchable recipes—for free. Blogs aid in the discovery of and access to recipes, but the ability to aggregate them from disparate sources is lacking. Even Pinterest boards can lead users to dead ends, the source links unreachable or untraceable. This is where ebooks will have to fill the gap.

Cookstr iBooks offers a solution: made-for-mobile cookbooks that are available as whole books or shortened chapters, allowing users to build their own á la carte cookbook and recipe libraries:

Discover sets of 10 recipes ($0.99), 50 recipes ($3.99) or 250 recipes ($9.99) designed for in-kitchen use, with mouthwatering images perfectly formatted for viewing on the iPad or iPhone. Even better, these are also the first digital cookbooks to incorporate Cookstr’s proprietary search standards and technology.

The pros of e-cookbooks are evident: They are space savers, time savers, and money savers. Cons? The logistics. My cookbooks are stained, ripped, and earmarked to the whopping four dishes I cook well. As I’m flinging around my spatula, spattering oil everywhere, I have to ask: What do people do with their ereaders or tablets as they cook? Are they memorizing the recipe? Using it to quickly assess needed ingredients?

Or, is everyone just cleaner than me?


This entry was posted on November 2, 2012 by in Culture, Opinion and tagged , , , , , , .

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