Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Could this be the death of the cookbook?

Book2BoTuesday 09 June 2015

Cookbooks have traditionally always been bestsellers, although research suggests that could be about to change.
In a year without a major release from Jamie Oliver or other big names in the industry, 2014 saw an 11 per cent decline in cookbook sales. The biggest seller came from 'Mary Berry Cooks', which sold more than 260,000 copies.


Leading NZ food writer Lauraine Jacobs responds:

Crikey. Very flawed research and ideas. Half the women over 55 are very old, probably live alone or are in retirement homes and don't cook at all. If they do it will be simple stuff where there's no need for a recipe!

What is significant is the rise of the 'Deliciously Ella' type books. We have seen that here with Megan May, Eleanor Ozich etc. Younger women, who have not learned to cook properly are loving the idea that food could possibly be healthy - although a ton of this stuff is not scientifically backed up and might be a passing fad or trend. Paleo, raw food, vegan etc is a response to the processed, additive laden commercial foods that fill the shelves in the supermarket aisles. The sooner we encourage consumers to stick to the perimeter where all the fresh stuff is, the better as we will begin to cook traditionally and well. 

I am more concerned about the future of food writing. Hence my dismay at the absence of the cookbook genre at the AWF this year. When the biggest selling books are linked to TV food programme contestants and those people are given the newspaper and magazine profiles, we are in trouble.

The best book last year was The Great NZ Cookbook as it profiled and put several things into the spotlight: our best and most loved cooks and chefs, our best Kiwi recipes and it captured the essence and diversity of NZ food too.
And it sold more than 120000 copies.  Compared to Mary Berry in the UK where the population is about 60 million ( I am guessing here) that is truly amazing. 

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