Cookery books: a less savoured ingredient

Arts & Culture Business

Book shop owners and experts say that the decline in sales of cookery books is due to the availability of similar content online, free of cost.

It was a Saturday afternoon. The bookshop’s air was filled with sounds of hushed conversations and rustling of pages. Readers poured in to buy their favourite books. They shuffled between aisles of genres like fiction, young adult, comics and more. However, the cookery aisle was empty.

Book shop owners and employees say that the sales of cookery books have gone down in the recent years.

Uma, owner of The Bookworm, Church Street said that cookery books sell once a while. “People prefer to look for cooking videos onYouTube and Instagram. So, the sale of cookery books has gone down,” she said. “People who love to read recipes, buy them,” she added. “We see more sales during Christmas as people buy cookery books for gifting,” she said.

Ravi, proprietor, Goobe’s Book Republic, Church Street, said that cookery books are not a main seller these days. “Sale of cookery books has gone down by about 30 percent in 2023, compared to the previous year. All kinds of recipes are available online,” he said. “Books on quick and easy vegetarian food are most sold,” he added.

Somanna, the sales-in-charge at Gangarams Book Bureau, Church Street, has a similar opinion. “Nobody wants cookery books now. Earlier, there was a huge demand for them and the sale was really good,” he said. After the growth of internet, people rarely buy cookery books, he added. He said that most cookery books that are sold are for gifting purposes.

Most people prefer cookery books as a gifting option.

Aswini, an employee at Blossom Book House, Church Street, said that cookery books are a very slow-moving category. “I think that the decline in sale of cookery books is because of the easy availability of recipes online,” she added.

“The sale of cookery books is average, not great, not bad,” said Keshav, owner of The Bookhive, Church Street. “After the popularity of internet, the sale has decreased,” he added.

According to a Statista report, published in 2023, over 75 percent of restaurant and food service experts in India expected Instagram to be the most important food media tool in 2021. Print media and cookbooks received a share of only 20 percent.

Reema, a student at St. Joseph’s University, Bengaluru, said, “I would rather use the internet than cookery books when I cook. Once I wanted to buy a cookery book on Italian cuisine, but I found the recipe online for free, so, I did not buy it.” She added, “I really think that internet penetration has affected the sale of cookery books.”

Rajasree, a middle-aged woman, from Palakkad, Kerala, who came to Bengaluru to visit her son, said that she has a cookery book back home. “But I don’t use it now. Whenever I want to try out a new recipe, I use YouTube,” she said. Her son, Shyam, said that he uses ChatGPT, to get recipes.

Expert says that content should be more engaging and impactful.

Sreekumar, Publication Manager of DC Books, a publishing house, based in Kerala, said that the sale of cookery books is going down due to the availability of similar content online for free. He added that usual cookery books with recipes will not survive in the market. “We have reduced publishing cookery books. When we publish, we try to make them more interesting by adding interviews with the author, or a story behind the dish,” he said. DC Books has published seven cookery books in 2022. However, in 2023, the number has gone down to two.

Prerana Subudhi, a marketing and hospitality expert, said that the most probable reason for the decline in sale of cookery books is the growth of internet and the easy availability of recipes online. She added, “These days, content has become a challenging affair. It needs a more creative approach, more visuals and less textual representation. Another aspect is the uniqueness of the content.” She also said that too much of data on the internet causes data fatigue and reduces interest level even in case of online food recipes. She added that the content should be more engaging and impactful.