Random House: Experimenting With New Kinds of E-Cookbooks

Despite that the illustrated ebook market has been slow to take off compared with narrative fiction and nonfiction, Random House sees potential in cookbooks and says that creative enhanced ebook executions are increasing in sales.

The company is experimenting with cookbooks that email users ingredients lists, allow them to interact with chefs and offer new seasonal or regional ways for people to discover recipes.

According to a press email (below), the company has two recently released titles that take advantage of these features and several others from last year. The company has been using iBooks Author for some of these products and plans on building EPUB3 e-cookbooks in the future.

For now, the company plans on publishing one or two more enhanced e-cookbooks each month.

Related:

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Are Digital Cookbooks Ready for the Next Level?

[Press Email]

While overall e-book sales are not as accelerated as in previous years, sales in illustrated e-book categories, such as cookbooks, are on the rise. This growth is driven by new technology that fosters better, more engaging experiences for digital readers. Random House is upping the ante with a new enhanced digital cookbook program that truly optimizes print titles for the screen. ­­­ Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction and Top-Chef-winner Richard Blais’s Try This at Home, are two of our recent titles that aim to provide a seamless concept-to-countertop experience for the home cook.

Imagine being able to pick out a list of recipes you’d like to try—and have your eCookbook email you a shopping list. Once you’re back in the kitchen, prop up your iPad, and automatically switch your eCookbook to landscape mode to display the recipe steps in an easy-to-read format. These state-of-the-art eBooks also integrate custom-built interactive features such as:

— conversion charts and condiment spinners
— visual indexes, and ways to explore recipes by regional area, season or type
— step-by-step guides to techniques and ingredients
— extra photography and audio clips an author’s Twitter feed and the ability to tweet back

Just last year, Random House began experimenting with iBooks Author and these early efforts yielded Tyler Florence Fresh and Vietnamese Home Cooking by Charles Phan. For these titles, the in-house development team maintained the look-and-feel of the print design while incorporating text pop-ups and scrolling functionality to showcase key elements. The end result was a series of eCookbooks that allowed readers to navigate and interact with the content in ways that were previously impossible in an eBook.
Random House intends to publish one or two enhanced digital cookbooks per month. Recent offerings include Breakfast for Dinner by Lindsay and Taylor Landi and Old-School Comfort Food by Alex Guarnaschelli Next up, in July, is Extreme Cakeovers by Rick and Sasha Reichert.

Each book will incorporate at least three fully interactive HTML5/CSS3/Javascript widgets that provide app-like functionality. Future plans include using EPUB3 to deliver similar enhanced functionality and interactivity across more platforms and to expand the enhanced digital publishing program to include science fiction, humor, and general interest titles.

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