Simple and beautiful cookbook layout examples?
September 13, 2010 9:08 AM   Subscribe

I'm writing an Asian cookbook. The recipes are mostly finished, and I'm currently testing and narrowing them down to the truly tasty. It'll be self published for friends and family, so won't need to look truly fancy. But I'm stuck for inspiration as to design and layout. So I'm looking for examples of simple but beautiful cookbook page layouts. Preferably viewable online. Suggestions?
posted by Ahab to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I personally like recipe on one page, picture on facing page, and a sidebar for tips and alternate version ideas.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:13 AM on September 13, 2010

I appreciate the layout of this Persian cookbook. If you hit the look inside/surprise me thing, you'll see a few recipe pages. It starts each section by introducing the type of dish/ingredient and its history/cultural significance. The recipes are laid out very clearly, and they have the Farsi script and transliteration of the name for each recipe (which would be fantastic for an Asian cookbook). You could always put a picture of the dish in the empty space below the recipe.
posted by phunniemee at 9:18 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Might seem obvious, but I advise using color pictures of food or none at all. I can't tell you how many galley versions of cookbooks I've seen with grayscale pictures that make the food look incredibly unappetizing.
posted by hermitosis at 9:28 AM on September 13, 2010

One thing to keep in mind, just as a tip: I can't stand when recipes start on one page and run into the next page "behind" it, not facing. It's ok for recipes to take up 2 pages if the pages are next to each other when the book lays flat open, but not where you have to flip back and forth. I use a recipe holder and that drives me batty.
posted by ifjuly at 9:31 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

The self-publish company Blurb has a gallery of sample cookbooks here.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:44 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Note that I have no relationship with them. Just saw some samples at a trade show and liked them.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:55 AM on September 13, 2010

I personally like recipe on one page, picture on facing page, and a sidebar for tips and alternate version ideas.

This is exactly what I recommend, too. The Williams Sonoma cookbooks are great examples of this.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:57 AM on September 13, 2010

I really like Canal House Cooking, a series of seasonal books published by a food stylist and a photographer.
posted by neroli at 10:02 AM on September 13, 2010

I really like the layout of Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:26 AM on September 13, 2010

Seconding Blurb.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 10:40 AM on September 13, 2010

Shopping for cookbooks this weekend I could not help but notice how few pictures there were of the various dishes. If possible provide a photograph for each recipe. Perhaps I am now just spoiled by all the wonderful food blogs about these days.
posted by caddis at 10:45 AM on September 13, 2010

Dishy by Kevin Gould has a very simple set up for the layout. A simple list of ingredients on one side. Picture of the dish and an anecdote and - the kicker - a flow chart that breaks up the instructions bit by bit. I really love the photography, because I'm a bit of an art fag, but the flow chart really works great. I'm afraid I can't find a picture of the spreads online. But if you happen to see it in a bookstore, peek inside and you will be convinced that it works.
posted by ouke at 1:41 PM on September 13, 2010

You will find no more "I need a few minutes alone" food pr0n than that of the CIA.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:13 PM on September 13, 2010

L'estrange fruit, hermitosis, Cool Papa Bell and Caddis - Yes! I think a straightforward and simple "recipe with sidebar page facing large color photo page" thing is the way it'll end up going. It has the potential to be simple and elegant, and I already have nice photos for most of the recipes.

Phunniemee - Thank you! I've been grappling unsuccessfully with the problem of where to put three titles for each recipe. Putting the script titles and transliterations off to the side is a nice clean solution.

Ifjuly - you are so right. I often photocopy recipes rather than have to flip backwards and forwards while cooking, but it's not an issue I'd really thought about in relation to my book. I figure the long recipes can cope with sidebar (or maybe opposing corner) photos rather than full page ones.

Cmgonzalez and TheBombShelterSmith - The do indeed look good, and there's lots of ideas there. Thank you.

Neroli - Drool! That's just gorgeous. I think I might try for something similar.

Digitalprimate - Also gorgeous.

Ocherdraco and ouke - I'll try to track both down. Thank you.

Thank you all. This has been truly helpful.
posted by Ahab at 11:40 PM on September 13, 2010

The Cooking From Above series are great.
posted by stp123 at 12:50 PM on September 14, 2010

Thanks stp123, they're gorgeous too, and shooting from above looks like it provides a neat way to get both an assembled ingredients photo, and a finished dish photo onto the one page.
posted by Ahab at 10:53 PM on September 14, 2010

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