Pick a region, pick a diet, pick a subject...

While attending to the (never-ending) task of culling and organizing the cookbook library today, it struck me that publishing output in a number of categories is shifting. There seem to be fewer big-ticket restaurant books this year (think Noma, Faviken, El Bulli). And for me at least, many trade reference single-subjects (the kind of book that's a glossary of 200 favorite cheeses, for example) are giving way to online sources.

But even as certain categories dwindle, there's a lot of cross-pollination going on between categories. "Street food" has been getting hotter and hotter in the last few years, so should we surprised to find Latin American Street Food following Thai and Vietnamese? There's Italian desserts (a perennial favorite), Southern pies, Asian grilling.

A similar kind of specialization is going on in the special-diets section: Paleo recipes for chocolate lovers, gluten-free recipes on a budget, comfort foods for vegans.

Maybe it's just a sign of a saturated market, these books catering to increasingly narrow readerships. Or maybe it's just a kind of thinking that comes naturally to tech-savvy buyers who are used to Advanced Search filters on their retail shopping sites.

But although there may seem to be a book that addresses every need (or two or three of every need at once), there are some titles I don't expect to see - like vegan smoke-and-cure, or Southwest shellfish, or Paleo for Buddhists. Personally, I could probably use a book of Temptation-Free recipes for Work-at-Home Moms. But a subscription to the gym would do the job just as well.


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