March 6, 2023
Publishers and bookstores have noticed a positive trend in the past few years: Their cookbook sales are jumping, with cookbooks flying off the shelves.
Always a popular category, cookbook sales have soared in the past three years. In 2021, cookbook sales were 42% higher than they were the year before. Since then, the upward trend has remained steady. Cookbook sales have not slowed down.
One reason for this popularity is the simple fact that people have been spending more time at home. During the pandemic, restaurants closed, and people got used to eating at home. Millions of people around the world were forced to stay indoors, and many of them worked from home. Some never went to back to the office.
Many of these people discovered a newfound enjoyment of cooking and baking. They found they had time to indulge in a favorite new hobby. Other people who loved cooking but never had time before now had plenty of time to do it. A rise in cookbook sales was the logical outcome. At the same time, the popularity of cooking and baking shows turned many people into budding chefs.
Of those cookbook sales, the clear winners were baking books. Cookbooks focused on breads and desserts have seen yearly sales increases of more than 18% every year over the past decade.
However, cookbook sales number show that this popularity preceded the pandemic. In 2018, Publisher’s Weekly reported that cookbook sales were up more than 25% from the previous year.
The cookbook sales surge is even more striking because the rise in cookbook sales came at the same time that there was an explosion of food blogs, recipe centers, and recipe-sharing forums online. There are hundreds of places to find recipes on the internet, and many of them boast lively traffic.
So, why do people still buy printed cookbooks?
They probably buy them for the same reasons people buy all printed books, which still outsell digital books by a wide margin. People simply prefer reading printed books of all kinds.
Many people say they use books in general, and cookbooks in particular, to detach from their reliance on electronic media. Most of us use our computers and phones all day for working, playing, or socializing, and the chance to unplug can be a welcome relief.
In the case of cookbooks, people especially like having a book they can lay on the kitchen counter. They enjoy looking at the full-color pictures, turning the pages, and getting lost in the chef’s stories of how these dishes came into being. These facts make cookbooks more like art books. People buy them for the recipes, but they also buy them for the artwork, photos, and personal stories.
According to a survey by the International Association of Culinary Professionals:
In 2022 and 2023, there were dozens of new cookbooks, but reviewers and food writers picked out these top cookbook sales as the best.
What does this mean for you if you’re a cookbook author? You’re entering one of the most profitable and popular book markets.
Here are some statistics collected by the NDP Group, which tracks data on consumer buying habits. When it comes to cookbook sales, it’s helpful to know how people make their decisions to buy them:
These facts can guide the way you write, design, and print your cookbook. Focus on producing a high-quality book with beautiful images and recipes that are intriguing but not overly complicated. Those are the qualities that are pulling in readers and selling cookbooks.
Here are some pointers to guide your design and marketing strategies.
1 Focus on easy recipes that use ordinary ingredients. Since baking is popular, include several dessert or bread recipes in your cookbook.
2 Establish your expertise as a cook or baker. Before people buy your cookbook, they need to know they enjoy your approach to food and your recipes. Develop a social media presence. You should have a small but loyal following of people who look forward to making your recipes and reading your thoughts about food. Study the popular food blogs to see how these bloggers create a relatable persona, present simple recipes, and engage directly with readers.
3 Be authentic. The most popular chefs are those with a strong, recognizable personality. Have a point of view, and regularly assert your opinions about your favorite foods and cooking methods. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.
4 Learn how to style food to make it look appetizing. Food styling is an art, and if you’re not good at it, your finished dishes will look unappealing. Take online classes. Practice styling your food for photos. You can get ideas from looking at other bloggers’ photographs, but keep in mind that many of them work with professional food stylists.
5 Choose a simple, straightforward design. People want cookbooks that are easy to use. Consider using wire binding that makes the book easy to place on a kitchen counter.
Some cookbooks have become beloved classics just like some famous novels. These books have earned a spot as reliable favorites that chefs and home cooks have used for decades. These titles are among those that professionals and hobbyists consider cooking classics.
If your plans include writing and selling cookbooks, you should produce printed books rather than e-books. Focus on simple, step-by-step instructions, beautiful images, and a user-friendly design. If you need help printing your cookbook, contact Publishing Xpress.
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