Friday, February 17, 2012
In case you are wondering what the heck I was doing at a cookbook conference, I will remind you that my first book (a cookbook) will be coming out shortly. I love to take advantage of conferences in New York City because it's just a short train ride for me to attend.
The Roger Smith Cookbook Conference was very unusual in that a truly diverse set of people came together to talk about cookbooks. Of course, there were authors in attendance. But there were also publishers, agents, bloggers, editors, public relations reps, educators, historians, and independent bookstore owners. (Yes, there are still independent bookstore owners.)
And there was a great deal to talk about – far more than I could have imagined. The speakers had fascinating information to share. Here is just a little bit of what I learned:
Celebrity Sells. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that six out of ten of the top selling cookbooks in 2011 were written by celebrities (Paula Deen, Guy Fieri, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa), Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman), and Lisa Lillien (Hungry Girl).
Big collections sell. Of the remaining top sellers in 2011, three were what I would call big collections by trusted sources, including Weight Watchers, Cook’s Illustrated, and America’s Test Kitchen.
What was the number one selling cookbook of 2011? drumroll please…
Cake Pops! Looking back over the top sellers for the past three years, cupcakes (and now cake pops) do seem to rule.
Cookbooks still sell. And by that I mean physical books, books you can touch and put on a shelf. While all books provide an experience, cookbooks seem to provide a lasting experience. There were 500 cookbooks published in 2011.
People still want and buy cookbooks. Cookbooks are the #1 genre of books checked out from libraries. Cookbooks are the #1 genre of books stolen from libraries. Cookbooks are the only genre of book unaffected by the recession.
What about electronic cookbooks? People want cookbook apps – and they want them to be full of recipes, but they aren’t willing to pay for them. I saw some examples of fabulous cookbook/recipe apps. None of them are making money.
If you are promoting a book, readers want a personal touch. Readers still love book signings. But, even the authors with the most extensive out-reach said that book signings do not sell enough books to justify the expense.
So there you have it – the ins and outs, ups and downs, good and bad of cookbooks in 2012! What’s your take on cookbooks?