Cookbook on the Kindle – the concept doesn’t work
March 12, 2009 | 8:04 am
By Paul Biba
A bit of background. I do almost all the cooking at home. I love to cook and will happily spend hours making a meal. I make fresh bread at least twice a week. I have 30 feet of cookbooks in my kitchen. That is why I was excited when I got a notice that there would be a free Cook’s Illustrated cookbook coming to the Kindle this month. It arrived yesterday, and it doesn’t work.
The good: The Kindle’s excellent delivery system. I knew the book was coming around now so I just left the Whispernet on and, lo and behold!, it arrived out of the ether without my doing anything. If there is one thing that keeps me from changing ebook readers it is this marvelous service.
The bad: The concept doesn’t work. This is not the Kindle’s fault, but the fact that some things are just not meant for an ebook format. When using a cookbook one likes to flip through it browsing for recipes. You look at one, go back and compare it to another, maybe find a third and see if you can’t combine the ingredients of one or more of the others you’ve seen. You compare ingredients on hand with the recipe and change recipes if you don’t have some particular important ingredient and want to make something right now. You simply can’t do this flipping back and forth with an ebook. The screen delay is too long, you don’t know, and certainly can’t remember, what the other recipes are. Going back and forth from the table of contents to the index is a time-consuming process. The ergonomics of the whole thing is just not set up for cooking and recipe browsing.
This is really the first time I have come across a complete failure of the ebook medium. I can’t see how it is possible to make any change in the hardware that would alleviate the problem. There is simply no substitute for flipping pages and marking them with bookmarks. Or folding down a page so that you can compare ingredients of two recipes side by side. Cooking is not a linear process. If I’m making a four course meal I want all the recipes immediately available so that I can do part of one while I’m waiting for another recipe to finish a particular stage. The ebook format is, by its nature, linear and this linearity is not adaptable to serious cooking.
Nope, Cooks Illustrated is the best cooking magazine on the market but the ebook format just doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to cooking. I’ll stay with the magazine and keep my Kindle out of the kitchen.