5 reasons to care about printed cookbooks

Cookbooks on shelf

We may be preaching to the converted, but it's a good idea now and then to remember why we love printed cookbooks (and why buying more isn't a bad thing). So at the risk of being an enabler to all our cookbook addict members, here, courtesy of Eatocracy,  are five reasons suggested by Kaitlyn Goalen as presented in Why Cookbooks Matter (Goalen is the former National Edition editor of Tasting Table and is involved with Short Stack Editions). We've edited and annotated them a bit: 

  • Accuracy - printed recipes are more likely to be tested and edited for accuracy than online recipes.
  • Gifting - cookbooks make the greatest gifts; a URL just doesn't match a printed cookbook with beautiful photos.
  • More than just recipes - cookbooks can be heirlooms passed down, provide insight into new cultures, or teach history.
  • Design - cookbooks are beautiful items and their display and availability can help make a home much cosier.
  • Voice - we would call this education, as a good cookbook writer can do more than present recipes, but also educate and inspire.

But we like to check in with our members every now and then - any more ideas on why we should keep our printed cookbooks?

Photo by Annie Mole



  • Beth  on  6/23/2013 at 11:51 AM

    While I love my cookbooks and will continue to by them, it's simply not true that printed recipes are more accurate. With online recipes (especially those from bloggers), there is a chance to correct an error as soon as someone notices it. Print cookbooks often have errors also but it's not possible to correct them until a new printing.

  • chris  on  6/23/2013 at 11:58 AM

    I disagree with #1 as a blanket statement (as far as contemporary cookbooks at least) for a few reasons. First, many publishers do not independently test recipes anymore (meaning only the author or their contracted testers do). Second, when errors are found in a printed book, they cannot be corrected as they can online. Third, most recipe sites have reviews (and blogs have comments) which can instantly confirm the accuracy of the recipe or provide any recommended adjustments. Finally, most better bloggers are creating and cooking recipes one by one vs. in a large batch which are then photographed later, so they are closer to the "testing" (for photos) and publication than a cookbook author who has the material pass through many hands and edits - which can catch errors, but also introduce them. This doesn't apply all online sources of recipes course, but the better personality or community-driven blogs are just as likely to have the recipes tested and edited for accuracy as printed ones. There are certainly many lower-quality cookbooks which are repacked or sourced from suspect original content.

  • Jane  on  6/23/2013 at 12:02 PM

    We will always add errata to a recipe if it is provided by the author, publisher or a member. We list it as EYB comments and it is available on the Notes tab. So for EYB members at least, mistakes in cookbooks can be corrected before a new printing. Also, Chris, EYB members have the ability to add and read our member reviews for cookbook recipes so your third point about the advantages of blog recipes doesn't apply.

  • Chris  on  6/23/2013 at 12:17 PM

    @Jane, the statement above about printed recipes being more likely to be tested and edited for accuracy did refer those found on EYB specifically. My point about comments/reviews existing for "online" recipes and not for printed cookbooks is completely valid.

  • Chris  on  6/23/2013 at 12:17 PM

    *did NOT

  • Amanda Skiba  on  6/23/2013 at 1:33 PM

    Also to tie into the heirloom section - NOTES! you can make your handwritten notes, how you altered a recipe or tips and then pass them along to family... I read a lot of books digitally but I have not purchased one digital cookbook. I am a food blogger, avid cook/baker, and cookbook connoisseur.

  • Jane  on  6/23/2013 at 2:20 PM

    Chris, I'm not sure you understood what I was saying. EYB does have reviews and notes for cookbook recipes so provides exactly the same service as websites and blogs in terms of feedback from people who have cooked the recipe. Click the Notes tab for any cookbook or recipe and you will see what I mean. The Essential New York Times Cookbook is the one with the most Notes - if you sort the Library by Buzz you will see which books have the most Notes. These are the online equivalent of your scribbles in the book margins (plus they are shared with all other users of the book).

  • sir_ken_g  on  6/23/2013 at 5:35 PM

    Accuracy - I find little difference with the EYB indexed recipes because the on-line recipes are "owned" by the blogger. Gifting - cookbooks make the greatest gifts - yes we have given quite a few to our daughter and her fiance. Mosly one in which she has favorite recipies from home. Design - O dear I am afraid we have too many to always display beautifully. Voice - Very much so. Books in which the author tells about themselves and their origins. Naomi Duguid's books (Burma) are great that way.

  • susan g  on  6/23/2013 at 10:00 PM

    ...I don't drive with a blow-up companion in the car with me! Likewise, I want to hold my cookbooks. Seriously, have you ever tried to compare recipes online? Unless you print them out, it's very awkward -- and then you have something on paper, not virtual. And, websites close, recipes are taken down. My books are mine!

  • ChefJsquared  on  6/24/2013 at 1:23 AM

    As a chef I trust my books more than anything I find online. I admit I do have an advantage of being able to look at a recipe and know that something is askew with ingredient ratios or techniques. Still nothing beats sitting down with a book and flipping through for a little inspiration. Plus it's easier on the eyes. Long live the tactile.

  • sir_ken_g  on  6/24/2013 at 12:11 PM

    I always end up with paper - if it is online I print it., And if I like it I "print" it to a pdf files and put it in my digital recipe file.

  • JohannaGGG  on  6/25/2013 at 5:20 AM

    I am sure I read this somewhere recently maybe on EYB - Cookbooks survive being dropped better than laptops and they are always available even in a power blackout or when the internet connection is down!

  • Lynda  on  7/4/2013 at 1:00 PM

    Just try spilling water on a laptop - oh my!

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