The Art of the Cookbook

The world of cookbooks is complex

By Julia McGovern
Food books are anything but simple. Everything I thought I knew about food books has pretty much turned out to not be true, as the industry is complex and multi-faceted. To begin with, a food book’s format speaks volumes about the type of book it is. There are smaller books with few to no photos, there are large “coffee table books” with beautiful photos, there are hard cover and soft cover books, books with jackets that add a sense of luxury, etc. and every single format has different value. Books with photos are more expensive to produce, thus more expensive to purchase. Taking photos of food and the steps involved in a recipe is an art within itself. It must be planned meticulously and executed well. The advertisement of different types of cookbooks is an interesting concept as well. Celebrity chefs do press and create buzz when they have a cookbook coming out, but when the book creator is not famous, things go differently. There needs to be a clear reason as to why this specific food book is important. It has to provide the audience with something new and different. There should be a clear answer to the question, “why this cookbook and not another one?” There is also the editorial marketing side, where research about what is going on within the market must be done. “Scouting” must be done to understand what the competition is doing and to be able to do it better. The world of food books is a complex and difficult one, as so much work and detail goes into each one. The process of creating a truly covetable and successful food book is somewhat of an art form that deserves to be recognized.