This week: Let’s talk cookbooks and mistakes, EYBD cookbook previews and giveaways

Before I begin this week’s topic on errors found in cookbooks (recipe roundup will return next week), I wish to preface my thoughts with the following. As a cookbook reviewer, I do receive many review copies from publishers, but as a cookbook lover, I also buy plenty of cookbooks myself. Some publishers won’t send review copies or often I don’t wish to wait for a UK title to be published in the US so I’ll order from the UK. I say this to you because I make the following statements as a consumer.

Most members will remember the issue that Ten Speed Press had with the North American edition of Sweet. Measurements, temperatures, and baking times were off due to errors made in the conversion from the UK to the US standards. The publisher issued an errata sheet as well as sent consumers a corrected autographed copy along with a little kitchen gift when the book was reprinted.

As a consumer and a human, I know mistakes happen. Sometimes small mistakes occur and other times (as in the case of Sweet) there are many errors. I appreciate it when a publisher issues an errata sheet. In doing so, the publisher is providing the cookbook owner, corrected details so that they do not waste precious ingredients and time. I’m sure that publishers, just as any business owner, fear backlash about errors and do not want negative publicity.

When we spend our hard-earned money on a product, we hope for perfection; but let’s be realistic, nothing in life is perfect. If the imperfections are minimal, we hope that the publishers would let us know so that we can note the errors and move on. If they are grandiose, they can “make it right” as Ten Speed Press did – which I personally feel went above and beyond.

The publisher of Miette: Recipes from San Francisco’s Most Charming Pastry Shop had a similar issue with measurements back in July of 2011. They issued an errata sheet and replaced copies in October of that same year. Truthfully, if a publisher issues an errata sheet, I am happy. For me, it is a huge bonus when they go to the expense of reprinting and sending out corrected copies.

From my years as the administrator and creator of The Cookbook Junkies, I have witnessed how livid folks can get when faced with errors. Some start boiling tar and plucking chickens to punish the authors and publishers. Nothing else removes any shyness a lurker may have to join a band of torch-wielding villagers. Often, we don’t have time to leave a comment on something positive, but we make the time when there is negativity involved. I know I am going to catch grief when I say this – but I feel that as long as I know that there are errors, I can pencil in corrections and let our members know about the issues as well. With the correct information, I am satisfied. Anything extra is “gravy”.

Recently, I’ve learned about some possible errors in Barbuto and we’ve made some preliminary notes on the few recipes in question. I am working with the publisher to see if we can confirm these issues and we will let you know. These minor errors do not take away from the beauty of this book – it is spectacular, and the errors seem to be only in two or three baking recipes.

One of our favorite author’s Rose Levy Beranbaum has a special section on her website for errata. A reminder when leaving reviews on books. Please if the book arrives damaged due to the shipper or post office’s handling, leaving a 1-star review is devastating to an author. It is misleading to the public who will think that there are flaws in the book itself. Handle that grievance through customer service.

If you come across an error in a cookbook, please be sure to leave a note on the recipe here at Eat Your Books. Let me know (calmly and politely, please) how you feel about the cookbook errors in the comments. Do you find them unacceptable? Do you understand and just wish to have the correct information? Or do you want to throw the book out the window?

This Week on the Blog

Since our last roundup, Darcie has written articles entitled:

Darcie’s weekly food news antipasto is shared every Sunday #foodnews brings up these information-packed posts from the most current to the first one.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve shared my Great British Bake Off – Recap – Week 3 – Bread and giveaways that have been posted for A Year of Simple Family Food, Jikoni, and The Sourdough School.

Other articles of interest:

Thanks to our members who used our affiliate links while doing their Prime shopping. The commissions earned help us to index more books, please remember to click here before shopping Amazon USA * Amazon Canada * Amazon UK anytime.

Jenny and the EYB Team

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Paul’s Saint Lucia buns from The Great British Bake Off: Christmas by Lizzie Kamenetzky submitted by member michaelsgrant

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Featured Online Recipe

Cacio e pepe potatoes Anna [arugula salad] from Eats Well with Others by Joanne Bruno

EYBDigital Previews

Recently we uploaded our 782nd EYBDigital Preview where a selection of full sample pages is available for the following cookbooks.

Learn more about EYBDigital Previews.

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  • winnie212  on  October 16, 2020

    Thanks for the thoughtful post on errors. I tend to agree with you overall. I guess I am surprised to read that for baking books likely to be big bestsellers in the US, That recipes are converted to US measurements without a round of testing. For a book like Sweet, which will be a bestseller, might have been a good extra step.
    Understand that for smaller presses that do not have the resources that is likely not possible

    • Jenny  on  October 16, 2020

      Winnie, thank you. Unfortunately, someone was hired to do the testing and conversion on the Sweet recipes but apparently dropped the ball on certain recipes.

  • RoseLevyBeranbaum  on  October 16, 2020

    Great posting on errata. I thought you and your readers might like to know that for many years now I’ve had an errata/corrections section on my blog. Here is a post explaining how to get to those pages.

  • Foodycat  on  October 16, 2020

    The thing that really irks me about errors in recipes is that I am a confident cook so when things go wrong I am pretty likely to spot an error in the recipe. Beginner/less confident cooks are more likely to blame themselves and think they did something wrong and that is a crying shame.

    A few years ago I worked on the home ec on a cookbook shoot and one of the recipes just wouldn’t work. I called the author (who hadn’t deigned to attend the shoot) and asked if there was something I was missing. They said no, they’d never been able to make that recipe work either. The publishing rep asked us to make notes on what we did to make the recipe. We said that we had a day rate for recipe testing and would invoice them. As far as I know, the recipe which never worked for anybody was published as was, because they decided they didn’t have the budget.

    • Jenny  on  October 16, 2020

      That is why I wrote this post Foodycat to encourage publishers and authors to make errors known. A new cook probably wouldn’t start on a restaurant chef’s multi-tiered recipe and the same for a baker. I have written repeatedly to publicists about this topic and often never hear back.

  • hillsboroks  on  October 17, 2020

    When I was young and first married I used a recipe from my only cookbook, the 1969 edition of the red Betty Crocker Cookbook, called Garden Vegetable Stuffing for Fish. The recipe called for 2 teaspoons of salt and I trusted Betty completely and put in all the salt. Well the result was pretty inedible. I realized that it probably should have said 1/2 teaspoon salt so I pencilled that amount in and have enjoyed making that recipe for years now. But it taught me early on not to implicitly trust a recipe and to use my own common sense and experience as much as possible along with a recipe. It would be great if there was a central website or someplace that could list the links to all the various errata sheets for cookbooks.

  • ToPieFor  on  October 18, 2020

    I’m not so flustered about the mistakes. It happens…we’re all human and there are many hands involved in cookbookery. However, I do want to be informed of those errors. That is most important and a simple errata sheet mention is fine with me. To ignore them, consider them not part of a budget, or to not even care that the buyer will waste money, ingredient’s, and time is not acceptable to me. That’s where I lose respect and interest for the author, team, and publisher. Ten Speed Press was a class act to replace Sweet with corrected copies and a gift.
    That, to me, is taking responsibility and caring deeply about a product you’ve created.

  • annmartina  on  October 19, 2020

    If I want to get the Kindle version I’d also like to know if the corrections have been made within the text of the ebook

  • jluvs2bake  on  November 3, 2020

    I agree with your post. Errors happen because humans make cookbooks. Perfection isn’t a realistic expectation! So many people are involved in the process that a mistake can happen anywhere along the route of a recipe that started out correct.

    That said, I do think it is the responsibility of the cookbook publisher/author to make an errata sheet available, and when they refuse to do that is when I get angry.

    Many years ago, I borrowed a recipe from a cookbook I liked in a friend’s collection. I planned to purchase the book when I got home. The recipe was a failure. When I told my friend, she said she had found out that the cookbook had a mistake in that recipe and others. I still wanted the book, so I contacted the publisher. Their response was, “I could not find a copy of the correction in our system. However after doing some research I did find a copy of (author and title of 1st recipe with error) recipe online.” They sent me a link to someone’s blog where the recipe had been shared. I replied that I already had that but would like to know if a corrected edition would be available or how I could get an errata sheet. They wanted printing information — from a book I didn’t yet own — and never answered my question. (I have yet to find an errata for that book, so it is still not part of my collection.)

    When I asked another publisher (that I really like and have quite a variety of their cookbooks) about an errata for one of their books, I was told, “We currently don’t have errata sheets available for our cookbooks. So sorry for any inconvenience! But if you have any questions about particular recipes, I’d be happy to answer them for you.” I have not purchased another one of their books in the three years since then.

    These are the things that tick me off. I expect that books will have mistakes, and that doesn’t bother me. But own your mistakes, and respect your customers enough to correct your errors. I don’t expect everyone to rise to the exceptional level that they did for Sweet. That was a shocking and pleasant surprise! (I even wrote to them afterward to thank them, and I have told many people about their integrity.) But I do expect my business and money not to be taken for granted.

    And guess whose cookbooks I’m more likely to buy in the future? Happy customers are repeat customers.

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