A pre-Christmas survey of recipe reading habits shows an alarming move to abandon traditional cookery books in favour of….. laptops! Admittedly, the survey was carried out by a PC manufacturer, Lenovo, so they would say that, wouldn’t they? But I fear that there may be more than a grain of truth in their findings…
The survey of 1,000 adults revealed that 83% of Brits use their laptops to find a recipe rather than trawling through a recipe book and that 39% of Brits have been doing so for over two years.
Sadly for cookbook authors, the reason that six out of every ten of those surveyed do so is that on line recipes are free. Even worse, 25% of those questioned thought that traditional cookbooks will soon become obsolete.
I find myself sitting on a rather uncomfortable barbed fence here, being both a cookbook author and running a large website which offers hundreds of free ‘freefrom’ recipes… Am I driving a stake through my own heart?….
I don’t think so. I do think that for everyday use the cookbook (like the trashy novel and the who-dunnit) may well be replaced by a laptop, iPad or kindle. The latter are far more convenient in terms of usage, do not get damaged so easily and, in cookery terms, enable more instant creativity than does a cookbook. (Nearly 45% of those surveyed said that they typed the ingredients that they had to hand into their laptop thereby generating a new recipe.)
But printed books are a source of pleasure to those who read them for many more reasons that the words, recipes or stories that they contain. And that will not change. As in so many other areas impacted by our on-line life, I believe that we will go digital for convenience but retain the physical manifestation for enjoyment. And, even if the books rarely get taken down to be read, how sad is a room with no books on a shelf somewhere – and how cosy a room lined with bookshelves and hundreds of warm, jumbled, inviting, even if seldom perused, old literary friends.