Addicted to novelty since 2001

Two Books I Want to Read and a Question about Recipe Books

Man, there’s a real lack of English-language books here on Gozo. Out of desperation, I’m currently reading The Bourne Identity, and the calibre of the writing is astonishingly bad. Consider the opening paragraph:

The trawler plunged into the angry swells of the dark, furious sea like an awkward animal trying desperately to break out of an impenetrable swamp. The waves rose to goliathan [Ed: WTF?] heights, crashing into the hull with the power of raw tonnage; the white sprays caught in the night sky cascaded downward over the deck under the force of the night wind. Everywhere there were the sounds of inanimate pain, wood straining against wood, ropes twisting, stretched to the breaking point. The animal was dying.

That makes Stephen King sound like Michael Ondaatje (who both, admittedly, could use a more zealous editor).

I have yet to figure out how to order books online and get them sent here (shockingly, there’s no Amazon Malta). Two books that will be near the head of the eventual buying queue are:

  • 25 Houses Under 3000 Square Feet by James Grayson Trulove (awesome name). He’s written several of these books (in fact, maybe I want the 2500 square foot one). Metaefficient says “The 25 houses are featured with photos, architectural drawings and site plans. It’s a nice cross-section of modern homes: the houses are varied to fit the sites and to match the personalities of the owners.”
  • City Making in Paradise: Nine Decisions That Saved Vancouver by Mike Harcourt, Ken Cameron and Sean Rossitor. I have an unhealthy love of Vancouver’s urban planning, and this book discusses “the issues and citizen action that made Vancouver one of the world’s most livable cities—an international urban poster child”. I heard about this via a Facebook event listing for a lecture in Vancouver last night (sorry about that). I haven’t found any reports about the lecture online yet.

UPDATE: Crap, I must stop writing the titles before the posts. I totally forgot about my recipe book question. Here it is: how has the proliferation of free recipes online impacted the (traditionally brisk, I think) sales of recipe books?

My initial thought was that the freebies must have hurt the industry. On the other hand, there seems to have been an explosion in celebrity chefs and their books (and sundry other peripherals). So who knows? I was thinking that Monique might have an opinion or two on this.

10 Responses to “Two Books I Want to Read and a Question about Recipe Books”

  1. Joe Drumgoole

    Darren,

    Can’t you just add Malta as a delivery address? If you purchase from amazon.co.uk the delivery costs shouldn’t be too high. Or you could learn italian and sign up for the Amazon italian site, then you’d get the added benefit of billing in Euros.

  2. darren

    Joe: You’re right, I could and I will. I had thought I couldn’t order from Amazon.co.uk, but that was just electronics. They won’t ship those outside of the UK, apparently.

  3. double-plus-ungood

    I do a lot of cooking and baking (like all of it) in my house. There’s no substitute for a good cookbook. I don’t want the laptop in the kitchen near eggs and milk, and I keep losing the recipes I’ve printed.

    Besides, you get some pretty crap quality recipes sometimes on the web. With a decent cookbook, you have a good chance that the recipes have been tested.

  4. Monique

    Cookbooks have become a tough sell. For the most part, people will search online for a recipe rather than buying a cookbook.

    The celebrity cookbooks have a bit of traction only because fans are willing to buy the book for the celebrity value. But also cooking fans are exposed to those books because the celebrities have cooking shows and can cross promote the books and shows. It’s a really tough market.

    The titles that sell seem to be the diet oriented books, the grilling books, the classics and some of the celebrity books.

    There isn’t aggregated historical sales data available in Canada to really look at this. But I’d guess that cookbook sales are well below what they were 10 years ago.

  5. darren

    Monique: Thanks, that’s just what I was after.

  6. MaltaGirl

    The shipping costs to Malta for Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk are awful, and as you discovered, they won’t ship electronics. I’ve used Barnes and Noble too, but again, horrible shipping costs.

    Us Maltese love play.com, who ship for FREE *grin*. It’s a British company, and won’t ship electronics here either, but the prices for books and DVDs are great. The older the product, the lower the cost, which is fantastic if you like classics.

    No matter how many items you order at once, they ship each item separately, which means that, as long as your letterbox is big enough, you don’t have to go to the post office to pick up parcels.

    (my postman hates me because it takes a lot of effort to get a DVD-sized package into our letterbox)

    A hint – before you click on the “buy” button for an item, first click on the “Euro” flag, because all the items in your basket must be Euros when you check out, not British pounds. If you accidentally add an item in pounds, you can remove it from the basket, go back to the item’s page, click on the Euro button, and then re-add it in Euros.

    Another option for avoiding shipping costs is to ask a local bookshop to bring in a particular book for you. I’ve often done this with Sapienzas in Valletta – they just let you know when it arrives. The disadvantages are (1) can take up to a month because a bookshop will only receive a shipment every so often, and (2) you pay retail price as opposed to reduced prices online. But this way can be very good if there’s a book you want that is big/heavy/not available on play.com.

    Also if you order through a bookshop, your order won’t be “accidentally misplaced” by Maltese postal employees (a regrettably common occurance, although it’s never happened to my play.com orders).

    Anyway, hope you find something that works well for you.

  7. darren

    MaltaGirl: Thanks very much for the tippage–I’ll check it out.

  8. Will

    Have you tried something like BookMooch.com? If you are having problems getting the good english language books it might help (and gives you a way to get rid of the bad english language books too)

    The cost of shipping is to sending out books (not too sure what I think of it so far but…)

  9. Christine

    I’m a sucker for cookbooks. I love sitting on the couch Saturday morning, flipping through my favourite cookbook and planning our Saturday night meal (which more often than not is prepared by my other half.)

    I haven’t found a single website that manages to inspire me as much as a cookbook. Most of the time, there are no photos and the recipes tend to be really boring or use prepared items like heinz tomota soup.

    I agree with double-plus-ungood, the laptop next to the eggs isn’t that great. Having said that, I’ve discovered Rouxbe a few weeks ago and my laptop has been migrating to the kitchen.

  10. Patricia

    I loooooooooooooooove cookbooks! I would probably own more of them if they weren’t so expensive. I almost never use the online ones. NO ONE can beat a cookbook by Patricia Wells or Jaimie Oliver!!! I also like the occasional gourmet magazine, martha stewart’s rocks for recipes. I am a fan yes I am…

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