It’s a great time to be a foodie.
You can find celebrity chefs cooking on prime time television, cable channels dedicated to covering every possible food fad, and thousands of free recipes available with the click of a mouse. So it strikes many as odd that cookbooks sales represent a bright spot in the struggling publishing industry.
Slate’s food editor Laura Anderson is one observer who wonders if cookbooks have reached their twilight years.
“I think in a few generations people will look back at the cookbook as an item that was useful for a very specific period of time,” says Anderson. “As a popular item, they are a relatively new phenomenon. Before the 20th century, most people learned how to cook by just watching other people and just learning from other people. So I think that people will look back on it as relatively a flash in the pan in history.”
So what accounts for the 5 percent rise in sales for cookbooks over the course of the recession compared to other books?
“People I think are cooking more at home as opposed to going out because it saves them money. I think that that’s part of why people still enjoy opening a book and why they’re maybe a little resistant to bringing their tablet or iPhone into the kitchen because they feel like they’re surrounded by screens all the rest of the time and they want to just get away from it for a little bit,” says Anderson.