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Cookbooks in the Library: Your Questions Answered

On Tuesday, October 5, 2010, Booklist hosted the webinar “Breaking New Bread: Cookbooks in the Library,” sponsored by Wiley, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Storey Publishing. Our distinguished panel was made up of Michael Friedberg, Marketing Manager at Wiley; Katrina Kruse, Marketing Manager at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Amy Greeman, Publicity Director at Storey Publishing; Mark Knoblauch, Booklist‘s cookery reviewer; and Kaite Mediatore Stover, Booklist columnist and head of readers’ advisory at Kansas City (MO) Public Library. Our attendees asked a number of insightful questions, which, unfortunately, we did not have enough time to answer right then. Our expert panelists were so good as to answer the questions in writing, and we now post their interesting answers here.

What types of cookbooks are selling best?

Michael Friedberg writes, “Personality-driven books continue to sell, however it’s not just the Food Network folks anymore. While Ina, Rachel, and now Guy sell really well, the success of celeb bloggers like Pioneer Woman and Hungry Girl confirms that social media has the power to create stars. Everything Julia Child-related also seems to sell well. The strong sales of branded books from Weight Watchers, Better Homes and Gardens, America’s Test Kitchen, How to Cook Everything, and the New York Times show that trusted resources still provide the recipes and information that people love and rely on.”

Amy Greeman adds, “Anything to do with preserving food is incredibly hot right now. We’re also seeing an uptick in basic skills books–bread making, cheese making.”

How popular is the e-book market and would you recommend publishing a new cookbook on e-book?

Michael Friedberg writes, “E-books are all the rage right now. Even though sales of e-cookbooks are below the numbers for, say,fiction, we are seeing the numbers grow every day. We are converting appropriate titles into e-books and will continue to monitor digital trends and sales closely. We’re not yet at the point where we’re only releasing cookbooks digitally, though we have released standalone apps, like the How to Cook Everything app and the Mr. Boston app. Print is still king for us, but we think we should provide our customers with products in any format in which they want to read and use them.”

Katrin Kruse added, “We are seeing a demand for enhanced e-books that include a video of techniques or added value.”

How are cookbooks meeting the needs of patrons who have disabilities?

Mark Knoblauch writes, “This is a good and fair question, and I think it is really two separate questions. First, are cookbooks being published that are usable by the disabled? Yes, there are large-print format bookbooks for the visually impaired. Second, are cookbooks being written specifically for people with special needs? In some cases, I think yes, but it would take some bibliographic research to ferret them out. I know of one magazine article that was written to address needs of cooks with only one arm.”

Our library has the NY school library system’s premier collection of children’s cookbooks. Looking to hold an event that will draw our families into the library and encourage families to cook–and read–together. Our inaugural celebration of the collection was a visit and cooking demo from chef Sara Moulton. Any other ideas?

Mark Knoblauch writers, “Just about every tv cooking show lately has done one or more segments on children’s cooking. Your location makes logistics of such presentations so much easier. Have you contacted TVFN for assistance? Some local restaurateurs may also in induced to do some programming for you if you can give them very specific ideas. The growing movement for urban agriculture should also be an opportunity. Even the First Lday has been urging more work in this area, and it’s important to connect the gorwing of the food with its preparation and consumption.”

For those looking to promote children’s books about food sources, gardening, healthy diets, and kids in the kitchen, see these related Booklist and Book Links articles:

Read-alikes: Kids in the Kitchen

From Seed to Harvest: Books about Growing Food

Read-alikes: Green Thumbs

Top 10 Food Books for Youth



About the Author:

Former Adult Books Editor, Brad Hooper is the recipient of the 2015 Louis Shores Award and is the author of Writing Reviews for Readers' Advisory (2010), Read On . . . Historical Fiction (2005), and other books. He is Booklist's expert on history, geography, royalty, and the art of the short story.

1 Comment on "Cookbooks in the Library: Your Questions Answered"

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  1.' R. M. Parker says:

    Greatly enjoyed Michael Friedberg’s excellent presentation.

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