Top 5 Reasons Cookbooks Are Not Obsolete

My dear friend, Ruth, and I were perusing our local bookstore a few days ago (truthfully, we were there for a bit of diversion from the frightful weather) and wandered into our favorite aisle — the one that showcases cookbooks.

Ruth said she’d heard that cookbooks were becoming obsolete. That cookbooks are no longer desired or needed any more, what with the ease and convenience of plucking a recipe for just about any dish off the World Wide Web in a matter of minutes.

Looking at the vast variety of cookbooks available in the bookstore, it didn’t appear to me that cookbooks were on the verge of being extinct. In fact, the bookstore’s collection of cookbooks made me think that cookbooks of all kinds are flourishing and are more popular than ever.

Following are a few reasons why, in my opinion, cookbooks will not become obsolete any time soon:

1. Availability
Are cookbooks obsolete? According to Publisher’s Weekly, there are approximately 24,000 cookbooks published each year. If cookbooks are no longer needed (or demanded), it is unlikely that publishers would spend the millions of dollars in printing and promotional expenses to create them.

2. Television
Are cookbooks obsolete? The Food Network and other television food shows not only help viewers learn how to make new and different foods, they inspire them to learn more. Cookbooks based on many star-making television shows represent half of the top 25 cookbooks sold at the leading bookstores.

3. Collectors
Are cookbooks obsolete? There are so many old, out-of-print and classic cookbooks that will never make it online. For example, when Gourmet magazine closed last year, the cookbooks generated during its reign are now being viewed as collector’s items (perhaps a sentimental way to hold onto the glorious foodie past and keep that brand alive). Then of course, there is the increasing value of rare and vintage volumes. The Treasury of Great Recipes by Mary & Vincent Price might fetch up to $125 these days (depending upon which book collector’s website you visit).

4. Broader Tastes
Are cookbooks obsolete? More interest in international cultures and cuisines is driving a greater variety of cookbooks onto the shelves of bookstores. Cookbook readers today want to know how to properly prepare more exotic dishes, and are willing to read about the techniques and gain inspiration from new tastes and food experiences (often reliving great meals from their travels).

5. Traditions
Are cookbooks obsolete? There is something grounding about a cookbook. Especially family cookbooks that are much more personal. Family members can thumb through family cookbooks at leisure and remember great meals and great times from photographs and stories. (You can never get that with a commercially-produced cookbook.) At one time, recipes were inherited through oral traditions, or handwritten on scraps of paper or recipe cards. Today, making a family cookbook through technology (like Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software), is a popular new way to save those traditions.

Do I think cookbooks are on their way out? No, I don’t. People still love to curl up with a good cookbook. Like a fuzzy blanket, or a favorite sweater, a cookbook is real, it is solid.

Happy Cookbooking,


About Erin Miller

PS: As a thank you for visiting, why not grab a few free recipe card printables? No signup forms, no obligation.

Posted in Odds and Ends and tagged , .

One Comment

  1. I do use internet sites for recipes– I just tried your muffins this week. But, I would never ignore my cookbooks. That is where I look for the reliable recipes that I have used over and over and written notes and reminders to myself for the next time. That is also where I look for tips and information. But, the thing I like the most about cookbooks is being able to hold them as I page through them. My favorite cookbook is the Betty Crocker cookbook given to us from my parents in the 70’s when we were first married. It is falling apart, but I love using a book that has helped me cook through my whole married life.

Leave a Reply