Why are cookbooks selling better than ever?

I read a great article over the weekend in The Independent about how cookbook sales are actually better than ever, despite thousands of recipes being readily available online. The article highlights a point I’ve made in few past blog posts on the importance of food photography in cookbooks. It seems the demand for “tomes full of colourful images and dazzling prose remains high…..They are for inspiration and pleasure, just as much as they are for the recipes.” (Orr, G. 2012, [online])

When asked about how looking at cookbooks compares to, say, reading recipes on a Kindle, Philip Stone, charts editor at The Bookseller remarked “Those big, weighty, glossy, lavishly-illustrated cookbooks by your Jamies and Nigellas look like a dog’s dinner on a Kindle, and I think home chefs would much rather their cheap paperback books get accidentally splattered with pasta sauce than their shiny iPads.”

On Amazon there’s a list of the top cookbooks coming out this Autumn – all of which contain food photographs to illustrate the recipes. It is great to see how important food photography is to people when buying cookbooks. In the late ’90’s illustrated cookbooks became more popular than those that were unillustrated. “A bookstore owner lamented to me that although she kept steering newlyweds to un-illustrated cookbooks with thousands of recipes, no one wanted them. They wanted the full-on close-ups of perfectly placed chanterelles or even French toast. They expected to be made hungry between meals.”(Shakely, L. n.d. [online]) – It seems that this still rings true today!

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