A few of my thoughts about summer cookbook sales, as posted on Eat Your Books the other day:
Every so often I have a look at the bestseller lists for cookbooks. It keeps me honest–if the books people are buying aren’t the books that I’m recommending, I should know why, even if that doesn’t change my opinion about the books themselves.
If you asked me what sells in summer, I’d probably say: eat-local books, grill books, ice cream books, seafood books. And I’d be partly right. But if you look closely at the Amazon bestseller list in Cooking, Food & Wine, this year’s trends tell a slightly different story:
Celebrities: Yep, it’s a booming market if you’re a TV personality, like Guy Fieri or Theresa Giudice. These books may not consistently inspire, delight, and instruct (the marks of a great cookbook) but wow. They do fly off the shelves. You can also sell a lot of cookbooks if you’re Gwyneth Paltrow.
Men: “Man with a Pan,” “Eat Like a Man”–sound familiar? Audience-based cookbooks are doing really well, especially if you’re a man. The battle of the sexes may have been won on other fronts, but it’s definitely still on in the kitchen.
Bloggers: Well, one blogger, namely Ree Drummond–a one-woman cookbook marketing machine.
Tell-alls & memoirs: Gritty chef stories like Gabrielle Hamilton’s rule the genre, along with macho, exposé style books like Anthony Bourdain’s (see “Men,” above).
DIY: Canning and preserving. People can’t seem to get enough of these, even though I don’t spot much of a difference between any of the dozens of canning books. Also beer (see “Men,” above).
Grills and frozen stuff: I was right about this much–people are buying ice cream books, and, in a twist this year, popsicle books. As for grills–well, not to repeat myself, but: see “Men,” above.
I really am perplexed not to see more fish and seafood books among the top contenders. Why? What am I missing??
What else can we conclude from scrutinizing this list? Well, here’s one guess: Men buy cookbooks in the summer. There, I’ve proclaimed it. Saying it doesn’t make it true, but it’s curious to observe, isn’t it?