Should I get a cookbook on Kindle for iPad or stick with paperback?
September 4, 2014 11:01 AM   Subscribe

I'm in my early twenties and new at cooking, but can follow directions so that's a start. I'm just wondering whether I should buy a kindle version of a cookbook or stick with the paperback. I have limited storage space, which makes a kindle version very appealing. On the other hand, slightest slickness of the finger might not mix well with flipping pages on an iPad, not that I'd be handling my paperback slick with meat juice or something either. Veteran homemakers/cooks/chefs/etc. what are your thoughts?
posted by maykasahara to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely print. You don't read a cookbook cover-to-cover-- you browse, and use the index, and look at pictures. Plus, yes, it's messy. You might not handle your books with meat juice but you certainly will with flour on your hands, etc.
posted by acidic at 11:07 AM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If the messiness factor is a concern, consider placing the iPad inside a plastic bag. And, yes, transparent plastic bags are thin enough that the iPad's capacitative screen is still usable.
posted by dfriedman at 11:11 AM on September 4, 2014 [5 favorites]

I briefly (like one half of a single recipe) used my ancient from law school laptop as a kitchen laptop for cookbooks, internet recipes &c before giving up because of the mess, the screen going idle just when I went over to look at it, and not being able to tape it to the counter above the prep space where it was visible but not in the way.

Obvs, YMMV, but I much prefer paper to electronics in the kitchen.
posted by crush-onastick at 11:11 AM on September 4, 2014

Cookbooks are the only books I still buy in hard copy and I think that will always be true (as long as they're still available, at least). I have a couple Kindle versions of cookbooks but they are just not practical in the kitchen. Harder to navigate, smaller print, the messiness factor... print is still the way to go for me.
posted by something something at 11:11 AM on September 4, 2014

If my comment above is not clear, take a look at this.
posted by dfriedman at 11:12 AM on September 4, 2014

I cook a lot, sometimes from cookbooks, sometimes from recipes online (using a 7-inch tablet to access the recipes. The cookbooks are way easier to use. There are some gizmos and tricks to make the digital stuff smooth (something to prop it on, covering it, like dfriedman points out, but I'm sticking with print cookbooks for my primary cooking. I can make notes, write out my halving or doubling amounts right next the ingredients and not have to worry about battery power, screen idle time, or the other issues that come with digital books (and no, I'm not an anti-ebook fanatic. I'd say I use them about equally with print for pleasure reading).
posted by carrioncomfort at 11:17 AM on September 4, 2014

Best answer: Another limited-storage space person here, but I still vote book. To avoid having too many, I'm not averse to ripping out only the recipes I like and keeping them in a notebook, then tossing the rest of the book, but either way it's better than a device. Love my Kindle, am on an iPad too much, but for recipes, it's dead trees, baby.
posted by sageleaf at 11:22 AM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you are a beginner, you should have an all-purpose cookbook in hard cover. Something the Joy Of Cooking or the Betty Crocker cookbook. It should have lots of explanations and advice as well as recipies.

These days, we usually print out a recipe from the internet, and either throw it away or add it to the pile of keepers depending on how we like the result.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:25 AM on September 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

I don't even use cookbooks anymore, I just search for recipes on my phone or ipad and cook from there. It's not hard to use a tablet while cooking. Either one hand is messy and I just use the other, or I rinse my hands off before going back to the tablet for the next step. I even *have* cookbooks in my kitchen, but it's so much easier to just use my phone or ipad. Then I save the recipes that work really well into a recipes folder in my email, so I've got kind of a virtual cookbook going anyway.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:34 AM on September 4, 2014

I have a tiny kitchen, but I still prefer a hard copy cookbook. When cooking from a recipe I've found online I will just scribble it out onto a piece of paper to take into the kitchen. I just can't reconcile my tiny amount of counterspace + the possibility of electronics getting wet or otherwise ruined.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:37 AM on September 4, 2014

I don't use cookbooks either. I have a few recipe apps on my tablet where I have saved recipes from the web or keyed in if they were on paper. I am planning to switch to Evernote Food. But apps aside, I find it pretty easy to use my tablet. I rinse, wash or wipe as I go.
posted by Lescha at 11:43 AM on September 4, 2014

Best answer: I'm with SemiSalt: a basic cookbook should be in paper, and spiral- or comb-bound if you can get it that way so it stays flat. (The Betty Crocker cookbook is like that by default; the JOC comes in two bindings and I definitely recommend the comb-bound version.)

Beyond that, books just of recipes can be either print or electronic, whichever you prefer to browse. I find that anything in the kitchen tends to get really filthy so I think it's best to have electronic so the recipes can be printed out. With paper you'd have to photocopy or scan them.

Printing from Kindle books can be sort of a pain in the ass though. (Basically, Amazon tries to make it impossible so you have to view it on your PC and do screenshots. Not really bad since probably you're printing from a PC anyway, but annoying.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:49 AM on September 4, 2014

Best answer: Paper, absolutely. And I'm a freak about buying digital-everything I can. But no electronic device can duplicate the simplicity and durability of paper, particularly for multi-page content. (While I'm here, I'll recommend Mark Bittman's book as a good beginner cookbook. Note that the hardcover is about the same price as the Kindle edition.)
posted by Nelson at 12:03 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

N'thing paper.

Here is my general logic on how I decide on whether to buy an e-book:

1) Will I ever use this book as a piece of reference, would like to "own" it for ever, or highlight or take copious notes?
If yes --> kill some trees
If no --> save some trees
posted by rippersid at 1:24 PM on September 4, 2014

Best answer: Um. What Nelson said except I have the iphone version of How to Cook Everything and I use it all of the time. The nice thing about having it is sometimes I'm at the grocery store without a plan and I can browse and pick something right then and there. It's has a bunch of other appy/non-book features that are pretty handy too. It's a trade off with the paper version (which my mom has and is pretty big.) There's a free version (Essentials) of the app so it can't hurt to try it out. (That being said, I have a bunch of book book cooks books too).

I would recommend against the kindle version of any cookbook.
posted by Spumante at 1:25 PM on September 4, 2014

If you're just starting out and looking for a general cookbook, I recommend just using the internet.

For buying cookbooks, here's my process:
  • borrow the cookbook from the library
  • buy it if it has 4 or more recipes I want to use, I buy it, otherwise, I just copy down the recipes I like
I've bought cookbooks as ebooks before, but always ended up getting the paper version.
posted by homodachi at 1:30 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm with homodachi. My cookbook is Google. Search for whatever I am interested in and have several different variations to choose from or piecemeal together. From that you can start liking different bloggers or recipe sites and go there for inspirations or ideas. Cookbooks in my opinion are mostly outdated or don't have enough relevant recipes in them to be worthwhile.
posted by wile e at 1:44 PM on September 4, 2014

After checking the ebook version of Cooking for Geeks out of the library, I then had to request the paperback version, because most of the charts were impossible to read on the kindle. The recipes are much easier to follow in the paperback version, too.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 2:29 PM on September 4, 2014

I like physical cookbooks because I'm always writing notes in the margins about what I'm doing when making a particular item - for example, if I alter the ingredients, or maybe the pie took an additional half hour to finish baking in my oven compared to what the recipe said it would take.

Another suggestion, get a 3-ring binder or a folder, for storing photocopied recipes and printed-out recipes from the internet. I do this and find that I use it as much as any cookbook because i tend to make the same things over and over. : )
posted by see_change at 6:01 PM on September 4, 2014

I cook either from my iPhone or Nexus tablet (in a plastic bag).

If I find a recipe I like, I put it on a blog. I use the comments for notes.
posted by kathrynm at 6:07 PM on September 4, 2014

I've dealt with both and I strongly prefer paper. Ebook screens turn off right before I need to check something. I can't glance at the recipe as a whole because on Kindle size they usually require scrolling. I can't see a list of ingredients and measurements on one page and see what to do with them by looking to the next page easily.

When I'm in the kitchen I don't want to think about how to interact with a recipe. I want to be able to flip back and forth, read two pages at once, etc, to do whatever I need to do to make something work. Ebooks just aren't there yet for cooking from my experience. I read actual novels and such via ebook mostly these days so I'm not a crazy ebook hater, but a recipe requires more interaction with the text. You can't manipulate ebooks yet like cookbooks require.
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:40 PM on September 4, 2014

To follow up: Once I have cooked a recipe I like, I save it digitally via Evernote or something and keep only the steps I need. "Throw the onions/garlic/etc. in for 5 minutes. Add these spices for another minute" etc. Once you have an outline you should tailor it down to only the instructions you need. But before I have it figured out I like to be able to see everything at once.
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:44 PM on September 4, 2014

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