55 Knives: Food Bloggers and New Publishing Frontiers
What if 55 of your favourite food bloggers were throwing a big community meal -- which dish would they bring? Nick Evans from Macheesmo has the answer in his recently released e-book, 55 Knives: Recipes, Tips, and Stories from 55 Top Food Bloggers. The book introduces one recipe each from 55 food bloggers, providing stories and cooking instruction as well. Half the fun is seeing which recipe each blogger decided to include.
La Mia Cucina, one of the featured bloggers, explains the book as,
So you've got some funny stuff mixed with some sentimental stuff, mixed in with some nice memories, and all of it surrounded by super delicious food!
Nick started the project by contacting the various bloggers, taking special care to hand-select the group in order to create a balance. There are long-established bloggers (such as Pinch My Salt and The Purple Foodie) mingling with newer ones (Gabriela's Kitchen), cooking bloggers (such as The Bitten Word) alongside baking writers (My Baking Addiction, though she throws in a little main-dish cooking on the side).
Their only commonality, according to Nick, is that "they appeared to be involved with their audience." After all, a driving reason behind putting out an e-book instead of a paper-and-ink book is the idea of making it interactive. Nick wanted bloggers who were going to respond to readers, answer questions, and continue the conversation. It's the one advantage food bloggers have over traditional cookbook writers.
The book, like a red wine reduction, goes beyond the raw ingredients of bloggers, recipes, and stories, and boils them down to a simple, navigable, engaging read. The book contains snapshots of the bloggers' lives, relating each to their recipes, and bringing each chapter back to the person's blog. It can both introduce you to new food bloggers you may have missed, and give you a foundation for understanding food bloggers you already love. And, of course, part of the book is about each blogger showcasing a single, personally meaningful recipe.
The recipes in the book are special and meaningful. For example, any one blogger might post 2-5 recipes a week and some posts might be more experimental or whimsical. 55 Knives, however, is filled with favorite and treasured recipes. Most of them are recipes with a lot of history.
In the end, an e-book just makes sense. It places practical usefulness over yet another glossy, space-eating, hardback book on the shelf. We all have cookbooks taking up room in our house, though we only use a few recipes from them. Nick suggests printing out the recipes you want to try and leaving the rest online to peruse at a later date, only keeping paper copies of the ones that grab you.
Nick isn't the only writer who is leaving the agent/publishing house path to strike out on their own with a unique way of bringing their book to the reader. SF Gate recently had an article about three writers who used non-traditional means to publish their book including providing the manuscript as an e-novel, winning a publishing contest, and releasing sections of the book as a podcast.
The idea of using the Internet as the springboard for getting the book to readers will only increase as more people find ways to utilize technology to their advantage and bring books to the next level. Imagine reading 55 Knives on the iPad, with the 1000 links moving the reader from the book to the blogs, without the need to move from one technology to the next.
It's a strange new world of books.
For those nervous that e-books miss the experience of skimming the book before purchase, Nick has provided sample chapters online.