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Is the recipe book industry going stale?

Despite the fact that we have become generally more reliant on our Kindles and technology for reading, physical recipe books have somehow retained their positions on bookshelves. Almost every student house you visit will have a recipe book of some kind, probably gifted to them by an anxious parent. When we look at how reliant we have become on technology for all our other knowledge, it can raise the question: do we still need cookbooks? 

If we consider the food blogging industry, it is surprising to see how many popular ‘Insta-chefs’ have recipe books considering their falling popularity as a medium. From allergy specific bloggers like Deliciously Ella to vegan bloggers like Niomi Smart, the number of ‘celebrity’ cookbooks has expanded as different dietary trends have risen. Even though these figures might have well-known blogs or social media channels, the fact that they are still investing in creating recipe books indicates that the recipe book market is still a popular way to enhance a brand.

The glossy pages of these recipe books, often filled with glorious pictures of dishes you would otherwise never dream of being able to recreate, can inspire you to try and create something new in a way the Internet cannot

For me, part of this new wave of recipe books could be tied to the nostalgia of watching family members create delicious food from their own well-loved books. The folded pages, creased spine and splodges of sauces on these books marked them with a seal of approval from a time where you couldn’t simply Google an easy recipe. For students today, being able to do the same thing with a physical book can create a sense of achievement, especially when trying to go against the stereotype of low-quality student cooking. 

The glossy pages of these recipe books, often filled with glorious pictures of dishes you would otherwise never dream of being able to recreate, can inspire you to try and create something new in a way the Internet cannot.  Unlike the websites with online recipes, having a tangible book filled with pictures of food can sometimes make you feel a step closer to actually being able to create these dishes yourself. Even if the exact same recipe might be online, having it in a book almost gives the food a seal of approval that a simple blog post cannot.  

As a rookie cook, it was definitely much easier to follow a similar recipe in a book than from Instagram

After having a look at some of the Insta-chefs who share their recipes on Instagram, I found the experience of trying to replicate their dishes quite overwhelming. The fast-paced Instagram stories were hard to follow in real-time, especially when there were lots of ingredients involved. When having a look at these Stories, it was clear that they were pre-recorded and, in some cases, quite heavily edited. Whilst it was easier to follow a recipe on an Instagram post, it wasn’t the same as having a physical book with more detailed instructions. As a rookie cook, it was definitely much easier to follow a similar recipe in a book than from Instagram. 

At the moment, students also have access to low-cost student cookbooks, designed to help make budget-friendly meals. With well-known brands like MOB Kitchen creating recipe books catered to help students find healthy meals at a low price, this could explain the popularity of recipe books amongst students going back on the rise. Often, investing in these books by trusted brands who have done extensive research on meals to suit a student’s bank account can be more trustworthy than some of the more expensive online recipes with complicated, hard to source ingredients. 

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