The rise of the blog book

At first, it was only Julie Powell, blogging her way to stardom as she chronicled her mastery of Julia Child’s magnum opus.  David Lebovitz and Pam Anderson were out there too.  

The books food bloggers used to write pretty much looked like regular cookbooks. In a few cases, the books featured little more than a bunch of recipes downloaded from the site, in the hopeful expectation that people would pay for what they had been accustomed to getting for free.

But in the last year or two, the category has gelled.  Today’s blog books seem to have hit on a winning formula, and the public is responding.  The most successful seem to capitalize on the look, style, and feel of the originating blog, especially when it comes to: 

  • Visuals: No food blog is complete without a vast archive of food photographs–indeed, more than the site can hold.  This trove is perfect fodder for the blog-to-book transition.  It’s common for a blogger’s cookbook to have a photo–sometimes several– for every recipe.  Conventional cookbooks often can’t compete either on quantity or quality.
  • Thoughtful outreach.  Bloggers are often advice columnists; self-made experts in their niche, whether it’s weeknight vegan or gluten-free baking or nothing but meat.  They’re used to offering tips and shortcuts, and their books are full of useful workarounds.
  • Familiar voice–but all-new recipes.  Readers fall for blogs voice first–that chatty presence or dry wit or warm confessional tone.  Every blogger’s book replicates that feeling.  Sometimes a web voice may come across as a little rough or unpolished when you’re reading it between hard covers.  But as long as the content is fresh and the look is appealing, no one really minds.

What are your favorite bloggers who have published books recently?  Who are you still breathlessly waiting for? 

Post a comment


  • TrishaCP  on  November 13, 2012

    On the whole, I don't find that blogger cookbooks are superior to "conventional" cookbooks- a notable exception in my opinion are cookbooks by Heidi Swanson (101 Cookbooks). Some of the best blogger recipes are culled from the work of others, often "conventional cookbooks"- which they can "adapt" for use on their website but not include in their own books. In other words, often their blog recipes are better than their book recipes. I will grant you that they have a definite leg up on "conventional" cookbooks in terms of marketing though.

  • Nik  on  November 14, 2012

    I agree with Trisha about the "marketing advantage" of blogger cookbooks. Unfortunately, I find that this sometimes leads the publishing industry to favor proposals with an established audience rather than promoting truly innovative new voices. That said, there are some gems in the lot: Ripe (5secondrule); Supernatural (101cookbooks); Sprouted Kitchen.

    I would LOVE to see a cookbook from Amy Chaplin (Coconut & Quinoa)!

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