Alchemical Thoughts

On buying cookbooks

Posted on: April 5, 2013

Via The Daily Beast, we get a question on why people buy cookbooks. In an age when you can access all sorts of recipes online, and you can do so with an iPad or some other tablet computer, why buy a cookbook in print? Naturally, that question goes back to why buy any print books at all, but let us focus on cookbooks at the moment.

The author of the article provides some explanations such as cookbooks being objects of art and for some people the cookbooks are status symbols. But she goes on to make the argument that culture of cooking from cookbooks and recipes is moving online. To her, very often, cookbooks are given as gifts. Let me then look at why we buy cookbooks.

At home, The Better Half is a cookbook collector. We don’t really buy big, sumptuous, oversized cookbooks. We do buy a variety of cookbooks from practical ones to a few on various ethnic cuisines. I will add that I do collect, in a small capacity, some cocktail recipe books. Anyhow, part of the reason we get them is aspirational: we hope to make some recipes from the books. The Better Half and I do make some recipes out of them though probably not as many as we could in order to get the full potential. She particularly enjoys buying small and local cookbooks, the ones put together by local groups, churches, or community organizations. You probably won’t see those on Amazon or the bookstores, but they are part of her collection. Cookbooks are one of the areas she enjoys collecting and reading. Plus it makes me happy to make her happy when I can add another one to her collection. And while we do go online, we cook out of books when making a recipe. Having a laptop in the kitchen is not really an option for us, and we are not into tablets at this point in time. So, at least in our household, we still buy cookbooks.

Besides, cookbooks do not require power, a battery, an Internet connection, and unlike e-books, we actually own then and can do with them as we wish.

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