The Great Debate: Cooking Apps or Cookbooks

For a while now, the Internet has been abuzz about the benefits of cookbooks versus cooking apps. Recently, the food editor at "Slate" magazine, Laura Anderson, sat down for a podcast interview with Marketplace, during which she predicted that our grandchildren or great-grandchildren will no longer rely on cookbooks at all, favoring apps instead. With the popularity of electronic readers and tablets, this argument could be made about all paper books as we know them, but the conversation is the more interesting when it comes to cookbooks because this publishing niche continues to grow, despite a weakening in sales in most other types of traditional print media.

Clearly, people are still buying cookbooks even with more and more recipe apps becoming available. So what's the appeal of a paper cookbook? I can think of a few things:

- A paper cookbook makes it easy to sit back and scan pages at your leisure to get inspired. For me, there's something different in the experience of folding down a page as opposed marking a section on an app or website as a favorite.

- Cookbooks are purchased by people of all ages, including older folks who aren't as likely to use app features on smartphones and tablets.

- Following along with a cookbook as you cook can be easier, as you don't have to worry about your phone or tablet becoming damaged or dirtied by ingredients.

- For some, cookbooks can be easier to see than the screens on smartphones and tablets.


On the other hand, there is a definite case for cooking apps and online recipe sites as well.

 - Apps and websites are friendlier to the environment as they aren't printed on paper.

 - Whatever you're in the mood to taste, you can typically find more than one recipe on apps and online to try. You can get access to recipes instantly without having to head to a bookstore or order a cookbook online.

 - Many cooking apps and recipe websites include instructional videos and extra photos that make recipes easier to understand.

 - Social media and review features found in many apps and on websites let you share recipes with friends and read about how well a particular recipe worked for others.

What are your opinions? Do you think future generations will look at cookbooks as nostalgia or ancient artifacts? Or will cookbooks always be around? Do you prefer cookbooks or apps? Why?

1 Response

Dani Sue
Dani Sue

September 21, 2012

I can see both sides to this. I haven’t purchased a new cookbook in a long time. I usually go to the thrift store and try to find some oldies, but goodies. I also have a lot from my grandma. I personally love real books…maybe a happy alternative could be in trying to get printers to convert to all 100% recycled materials.

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