It’s usually a good indication that a technology has become extremely mainstream if I’ve embraced it. I resisted the personal computer in the late 1980s in college and didn’t see the benefits of one until about 1995. I was too much of a film snob to think digital cameras were worth my time until I started blogging and needed to upload photos in a timely manner. And eReaders? Well, my love for physical books is greater than my love of film. But, my husband bought me a Kindle for my birthday this past spring, and now I rarely leave my house without my Kindle.
One of the reasons I love my Kindle is because it’s so convenient to cook with. I prop it up in the cabinet right above where I do prep, and I can follow recipes, look up information I might need on the spur of the moment, and find ingredient substitutions quickly. I love my cookbooks, but I find that I use them less and less, even though I still buy them frequently.
There’s an interesting piece just published on Slate about the eventual extinction of print cookbooks. My initial reaction whenever I read or discuss the death of print is mixed. On the one hand, I completely understand that if someone like me is embracing eReaders for books and cookbooks and my computer for news and magazine-type articles, the end of print really is coming somewhere down the road. However, as a book lover and as a writer, it makes me sad.
In The Future of Cookbooks, L.V. Anderson, a cookbook lover, says cookbooks will go extinct, and that’s okay. Cookbooks are currently one of the few print mediums that has been improving over the past few years, but that improvement is only temporary. There’s no way to know exactly how long it will take print cookbooks to disappear, but their extinction, along with many other forms of print, is inevitable.
I’m afraid Anderson is right. Cookbooks are still doing well because of their giftability. As the variety of impersonal gifts that can be purchased shrinks (I haven’t had a CD or a DVD on any gift list in at least two years because I download those things now), cookbooks are still a safe bet. But, Anderson suspects that “cooking applications for tablets and smartphones will likely join Netflix subscriptions, Amazon gift cards, and iTunes playlists as popular digital presents, effectively wiping out the gift-cookbook phenomenon.”
Another reason offered by Anderson about why cooking by app will eventually be the norm makes sense, too: the ability to read others’ reviews and suggestions for recipes give cooking websites and apps an advantage. Allrecipes.com is one of my favorite places to look for recipes, simply because the user rating system is so helpful. I rarely make something from that site that disappoints. I often make recipes from cookbooks that are okay but don’t become keepers.
As I find myself turning more to digital sources for recipes and cooking, I’m able to come to terms with the eventual extinction of print cookbooks. It’s sad, but I agree with Anderson — it’s inevitable.
Related on MNN: 8 technologies that used to be revolutionary but now are relics
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