why e[cook]books are the way forward
+ 5 ingredients 10 minutes evolves

3D cover video3D cover 3salad3D cover 4vegetables

First, lets go back in time

Back in the late 90s, when I was studying wine making, there was much debate over the emergence of screw caps. While the technology had been available for decades, the wine industry were, for the most part, terrified of letting go of their beloved corks.

Even though it was well known that cork caused somewhere between 4-8% of wine to be spoiled, winemakers thought that their sales would decline if they started bottling under a more reliable closure. They reasoned that the whole ritual of pulling the cork from a bottle of wine and hearing that wondrous ‘pop’ was something that wine drinkers weren’t ready to give up. There was also the old argument that only cheap wine was bottled under screw caps, so no one would accept a quality wine that wasn’t bottled with a cork.

Yet these days screw caps are ubiquitous. And why do you think that is? Well for one they’re a whole lot more convenient, no need to go rummaging around for a corkscrew. And then there’s the reliability factor – no need to worry about your wine being corked.

But the biggest reason is that at the end of the day, the best thing about wine is drinking it and sharing it with your friends. It isn’t about the cork. And if we can still enjoy wine and have the added convenience and screw caps, then it’s a no-brainer.

See any parallels here? Like maybe books?

I know it may sound like sacrilege to some. Please don’t get me wrong. I LOVE books.

But when I think about it, books are a lot like wine. (Actually books have an advantage over wine in that over-consumption doesn’t lead to a hangover). But for me at least, books are a lot like wine because it’s not the packaging that’s the most important thing. It’s what’s inside. It’s the ideas and knowledge and images that make books so wonderful.

It’s where they lead your imagination not how they look or feel that keeps us coming back. Sure flipping pages and feeling paper are nice but I’m willing to exchange that for the convenience of the digital age, after all I still get to be inspired and learn new things.

Why you should embrace ebooks?

i. They’re portable.
How many times have you been at work and decided to cook something from one of your books but the book is at home? With ebooks you can take your library in your pocket which includes the supermarket – just the thing for last minute shopping lists.

ii. They weigh nothing
When I went to live in Barcelona for 6 weeks last year my luggage was up around the 30kg mark, about a third of which was books. Next time I’m planning on keeping it as digital as possible.

iii. They don’t kill trees to produce
Bytes rather than wood pulp. You get the picture.

iv. They have search funcions
When was the last time you looked in the index for a recipe you knew was in the book but couldn’t find it listed and had to trawl through to find it? With ebooks and simple search functions you won’t have to worry about frustrating indexes any more.

v. They are interactive
Imagine a book where you could look at the contents, click on something you like and instantly be taken to that exact page? In print never. In the ebook world this is already a reality.

And then there’s the possibility of being able to browse the book through different lenses. Imagine a cookbook you could browse by what’s in your fridge OR your mood? Again it’s already happening with ebooks.

vi. They can be multimedia
With print all you’re ever going to get is words and pictures. Sure 3D pop-up books are fun, they’re nothing compared to books which have video and even active links to the internet.

vii. The get delivered instantly (and for FREE)
I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan of instant gratification. While a parcel in the post is lovely, not having to wait or pay for shipping your books is totally the way forward.

some history behind the next generation of 5 ingredients 10 minutes

A little over a month ago I launched my new cookbook 5 ingredients 10 minutes in ebook format. And while sales have been pretty good, I have had some interesting feedback.

First are the people who just can’t get their head around the whole ebook thing. The people (my friends included) who want to know when I’m going to release a print version.

While half of me understands their love of paper and answers ‘oh hopefully some time next year’, the other half of me just wishes they would open their minds and see that maybe the future is here. (For the record I’m still undecided about doing a print run).

Second were the people telling me that $37 was way too much to pay for an ebook. I’m glad that this group is open to the ebook idea. And their feedback made me realise that it’s difficult to convey how much value is contained in a book with 133 recipes over 344 pages. They raised the question in me that maybe smaller bite-sized mini books are more appropriate for the online space?

2 new iterations of the next generation of 5 ingredients 10 minutes:

i. The premium VIDEO edition with 50 instructional videos included in the book.
3D cover video

I’ve already been super self indulgent with my ebook rant today do I won’t go heavy on the sales pitch. But I wanted to release a video version because it represents all of the benefits of moving over to the ebook dark side.

If this is something that interests you, head over to The Stonesoup Shop for more details.

But before you go the first 50 people to purchase the premium video edition of 5 ingredients 10 minutes will also receive FREE access to a Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School masterclass of their choice valued at $37. See the 2011 class calendar for a list of potential FREE classes.

ii. The mini-ebook version broken down into 10 volumes for sale individually..

3D cover 7 veggie protein 3D cover 6 grainlegumes 3D cover 10 sweet treats

I’m really excited about this launch. The ideal of choosing the bits which interest you most and ditching the rest really appeals to me.

Again, head over to The Stonesoup Shop for more details but there’s also a deal to be had here. The first 50 people to purchase each chapter of 5 ingredients 10 minutes will also receive a FREE BONUS chapter of their choice. So for the 10 chapters that’s 500 opportunities to buy-one-get-one-FREE.


Thankyou for your indulgence today. I’d love to hear in the comments what you think about the whole ebooks v’s print. Are books potentially the new vinyl records? Or am I dreaming?


  • I agree with you 100% Jules. This is an excellent way to distribute, consume and put to good use all the great information you have to share with us.

  • I know realistically that books will be replaced by e readers but I think this is really sad. I love books. I love the smell of old books, the fact that I have all my dad’s old books in his bookcase and old books from school and uni that mean so much to me. An e reader will never replace that, it just seems soulless to me. As far as the constant argument that books are bad for the environment, well most people don’t throw away books, they’re kept or donated to libraries or whatever and let’s face it, computers or electronic equipment aren’t exactly beneficial to the environment, what with people needing the next, new thing on the market every 5 minutes. And libraries – e readers will be the end of libraries – I love libraries! My local library is where people in my suburb read newspapers still, read books, take their children and it’s such a lovely, calming, friendly place.

    And really, everything has a negative impact on the environment, I’m of the mind that you look at what certain things bring to society; we seem to live in a world now where we’re questioning everything re: environment impact – I read the other day that pets are bad for the environment – should we not have pets? Really? It really makes me think what kind of world we’ll be living in in 20 years time.

    FYI I feel the same way about corked wine. There was something sexy about a boyfriend opening up a bottle of wine with a bottle opener back in the day .. not really the same now.

    I’m in my 30s, I guess a lot of people might not agree with me – I guess I’m just old school …

  • I have to agree with Emma about books- I just love the tactile experience of reading a bound book. However, I got into cooking without books- just by finding wonderful blogs like yours. I find that electronic cookbooks make much more sense to me than purchasing an entire paper book, the entirety of which I may not utilize. Also, I love that you are able to get it out there- and I hope you have a lot of success with this new mini-version!

  • Wow! This is the best defense of ebooks I have ever read! I love books. I love being able to write in them, I love the feel of them, the smell of them, the sight and sound of them. (I’ve yet to eat one, so can’t comment on the flavour!)

    And I have been ambivalent towards ebooks and ebook readers in particular, but your reasons to love ebooks have helped change my opinion. I think that corked wine bottles will still have a place (from experience in bar work, however, I can attest to the awesomeness of screw top wine bottles), just as books will still have a place. They might become an (even more) elitist status symbol. For a minimalist, this isn’t a problem, and ebook readers might be the way forward.

    Thanks for a great post! I’m almost ready to take the ebook plunge.

  • Even though I love e-books and do Kindle and other conversions, I think it’s hard to replace a paper cookbook. I could see this in a 6″x9″ version with a spiral binding so it can lay flat. Glossy, of course, since your photos turn this book into a work of art. If you go POD, you won’t have to pay anything up front or deal with shipping.

  • I was going to suggest print-on-demand, too. If your customers really like having a paper edition, you could get it printed and bound through lulu.com or a similar service–then the folks who want it on paper can order it and pay for it, instead of you getting a bunch of copies printed up and bearing the risk that nobody will buy them.

  • thank rhonda

    I agree with you on the benefits of books and I’m not saying that ebooks should totally replace print. Think of it like going to the movies vs downloading a DVD.

    And I was actually talking to a librarian friend about the future of libraries earlier in the year. She sees the future that libraries will still be a community place. A place of being able to gather and meet and that digital information will co-exist with print… so don’t worry about libraries dying out.

    And if your boyfriend needs a cork to make opening a bottle of wine sexy.. he needs to work on his act ;)

    thanks anna

    thanks joe
    glad you’re almost ready to take the plunge! and you’re right it’s not about replacing books its about supplementing.

    chris & cara
    I’ve used POD a little but it’s still super expensive especially if you’re not based in the US… will keep investigating though.

  • hi there,

    long-time follower, first-time commenter! I’m trying to buy by chapter in your shop, but the cart won’t let me add more than one chapter to it. whenever I try to add another one, it just updates the cart with the new selection, deleting the previous one. is there a fix for this? I’d really love to get the vegetables, grains & legumes, and veggie protein chapters! (I also tried to do it with the matesrates code but didn’t work either!)

    love this blog, it’s been an inspiration for me in my weeknight cooking for me and my wife. weekends I still like to cook more elaborately (I love the time and the labor!) but you’ve really expanded my sense of what’s possible in a short amount of time — and it’s not plain pasta with steamed broccoli (which was my mother’s go-to 10-minute meal when I was a kid)!!

  • E cookbooks have me baffled. If my computer is in another part of the house, then I need to keep going back and forth from the kitchen to the computer to check ingredients, check amounts, temperatures etc… Or can we print out your ecookbook once we purchase it? Or do we scribble down the recipe from the computer to take to the kitchen? I (sadly) don’t have an iphone to keep on the kitchen bench and refer to a recipe, so am a bit baffled how I would manage the reality of cooking from an e cookbook. As it is I just copy your recipe of the day onto an MS Word page and then print and take to the kitchen. Perhaps I am a bit of a dinosaur – just turned 40!

  • You can’t stop progress, you either adapt, or opt out. Digital camera’s, mp3’s, twitter, Facebook, etc. have all changed our lives. For the better? Not sure. But some change is good. Maybe more kids, and teens will read an eBook over a conventional book. That would be good. Both my kids want Nooks for Christmas, which took me by surprise.

    I like the new eBooks. Something different. As long as there is a permanent library somewhere, with hard copies, so that when the magnetic poles reverse, or the giant solar flare hits the earth and wipes out all electronics, I can still get a stone soup recipe to cook in the fire pit :D

  • I am totally onboard with ebooks. I have a kindle and cannot imagine life without it at this point. I just don’t have room on my boat for the huge amount of books I read.
    Great idea to make smaller installments of a larger book. It is hard to adjust our minds to the value of ebooks but I think that will become more clear as things like ecookbooks improve their format (as with yours!).

  • I love ebooks and especially ecookbooks! I love putting my little netbook up on the counter and pulling up a recipe and having it right there on a brightly lit, upright screen rather than a dead tree book that has to be propped up and held opened. The netbook is also easier to wipe clean. As much as I love my old cookbooks, I rarely use them anymore, and they will probably be sold back to the bookshop sometime during our next move.

    I’ll let myself keep maybe ten or twenty special ones, but that’s it. My brother was kind enough to take digital photos of our mother’s recipes, so now those are on the netbook too. I enjoy seeing her handwriting on my screen as much as I enjoyed holding the old cards in my hands.

    So, thank you for the ebooks and the videos and saving a few trees and saving me a bundle on shipping!

  • I’m a huge fan of e-books. I think they will do to the publishing industry what itunes did for the music industry. People will be able to self-publish much more easily; books can be sold in chapters (like buying a single song from itunes); they will be far more portable; and a larger variety of content can be published (for itunes, think: podcasts, itunesU, etc. for books think: stuff in between the length of an essay and that of a book, for which there is little market in paper books). I don’t think e-books will kill libraries, it’s just that libraries will be where people come not to find books, but to interact with other people about books. They’ll have more reading groups, lectures, book-based games, etc. Youtube videos didn’t kill concerts and neither will ebooks kill libraries.

    In fifteen years, the people who still read paper books will be like the people who still listen to vinyl records today. They’ll do it because they really love the quality of it, but they’ll also have a really hard time getting their hands on modern content in that form.

    Also, here is an interesting 5-minute video with some ideas about the future of the book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISxgVmRnFq8

  • sally
    completely agree with your vision of the future – and really enjoyed the video – especially the last option. thanks for sharing

    I wish more people were like you!

  • I enjoy my kindle, and my trashy paperbacks – which I’ve been known to leave lying around in public places for someone to pick up after I’m done… but until there is a truly spillproof e-reader, recipes get printed out and brought to the kitchen. I’m a bit messy, you know! And, if I’m making changes, I’m scribbling notes in the margins. That’s tough on a computer screen…

    One more comment on ‘killing trees’ for paper pulp – pulp forests are grown and managed specifically for paper. They are home to lots of wildlife, and are vast swaths of green oxygen factory. If the industry dies, that land might well become more houses and shopping centers… Paper’s real problem is not the cutting of trees, but the heavy use of water.

  • Hi Jules,

    I understand the eBook dilemma that people come to you with ($37 is too much). I think this has more to do with the culture and attitude to online and virtual communities. Online/Virtual is free. It’s always free. Music is free. Movies are free. And even if they’re not, they’re still cheaper than the hardcopy version. Virtual = free. This is the culture the internet has grown up with. So when an eBook is charged at something similar to the price you can buy offline, then people start to hesitate. It’s why I haven’t bought my own eReader yet. It’s why I don’t buy eBooks (yet). I can’t bear the fact that buying a virtual book will cost me the same as buy a hardcopy that I can collect and view on my shelves as I sit in my library. In this future age, it isn’t the content that matters so much (unfortunately) it’s the object. So now we’re into a discussion of book vs object. That’s not the point though of this comment though. I think what your buyers are commenting on is the fact that you don’t actually have a real object in front of you. You have space, virtual space, and it cost them $37.


  • Hi Jules,

    Regarding publishing your book, have you considered online publishers such as lulu.com? You can add you book for free, and they will only print copies as they are ordered. This way you can publish you book in hardcopy without too much cost. Just an idea.

    Thanks for a great blog,

  • Thanks for the suggestion petur
    I’ve looked into lulu etc but unfortunately they’re still super expensive compared to traditional printing – but am keeping my eye on that.

    thanks for sharing your opinion. we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

    I feel sad that you think that the content isn’t important and doesn’t matter. In my world books both real and virtual are only worth something because of their content. It’s the ideas and words and images they convey that is what’s beautiful and worthwhile. It’s not virtual space in the absence of an object, it’s space filled with beautiful images and words.

    Love the thought of you scribbling on your computer screen. I get around that one by having a notebook in the kitchen for notes so I can refer back if I want to.

    And thanks for the insight on paper + trees + water. I’m not really up on all that stuff but there is a pine plantation I drive past every now and then and I hate to see it when the trees have just been cut down – looks so desolate

  • as much as virtual cookbooks are the thing of the future, there’s just something so darned old-fashioned and lovely about cookbooks that i can flip through and ear mark. i know it’s not always eco-friendly, but i try and save paper in other ways!

  • I really did not think ebooks would take off – but they have! I also don’t think there is a problem payign for them given the amount of work that goes into them. It is common to buy language courses (or parts of them online), gardening info or scientific jounals online, so cookbooks are really no different.

    I haven’t taken the laptop into the kitchen yet – I sometimes get a bit messy (oK sometimes I have to stop and clean if I got to carreid away – i.e. vaccum cleaner needed and maybe a wash up or a change of clothes), but print out or scribble down the ingredients list and quantities on the back of an envelope. If I change something along the way I print out the recipe and add my own notes to it or rewrite in the book I stuck my packbackers into.

    Discussing a recipe with family and friends (yes we do that on email or by phone) is alot easier with ebooks. And if the photography is as good as jule’s then I still want to use the recipe!

    i admit I bought Jule’s book as a print version through a print on demand site and was happy with it arriving within 2 weeks! Having the ebook version has been great too – I check it just as I leave work so I know if I need to pick anything up on the way home. Very very convenient.

    I like the idea of buying what you want (just like itunes – buy the song not the album!), but love the thought that goes into combining everything into a book. Both have their place.

  • Congratulations Jules. Couldn’t agree with you more in terms of benefits of e vs. p but also value/utility provided if an ecookbook has instructive video layered in.
    Have you checked us out at Zinio.com? We have over 3K digital magazines, many of which are interactive, but also many cookbooks from individuals but also terrific cookbook publishers like Workman, Chronicle, and Random House. We are talking to Quadrille, Murdoch Books and loads of others. I would be happy to comp you a copy of SAVEUR as well as a sample ecookbook. Just set up a free Zinio acct (we have a reading app for iPad and iPhone that are hugely popular). Books will be launched through these apps in the New Year as as well as interactive ones (like what you see with our Natl Geographic interactive magazine). I’m @armco on twitter and extremely passionate about wine too.
    Question–how can I view your enhanced ecookbook on my iPad exactly? I couldn’t find an app. Please advise.

  • I’m a librarian and am in the course of completing my formal education.
    The “threat” of ebooks is a big topic in our field right now. However, I think books will continue to exist. The same as newspapers weren’t replaced by the radio and radio wasn’t replaced by tv, books will not be replaced by ebooks.
    The utalitarian books, such as cookbooks or work related books, will be electronic. The books you have for the pure pleasure of books, such as maybe childrens books, will still be in paper, exactly for the physical pleasure of them.
    I’m a big fan of both varieties, and will continue enjoying both.
    *off to buy the big book*

  • Jules, a very interesting idea, would love to talk with you about it. We’ve been publishing hard copy cookbooks for years and understand the need to offer our books both ways, and understand the need for enhancement as well….as you say, those videos will take folks over to the dark side! Our books are also on Zinio (Andrew Malkin above), we could send you several if you’d like to see them.

    I’m on facebook and twitter (@bruceshaw, or @HCPDishes thru Adam Salomone) if you’d like to be in touch, or bshaw@harvardcommonpress.com.

  • alex
    thanks for your insights.
    I’m glad to hear that you’re using both the ebook and the print.

    yay for librarians – and you’re exactly right – there will always be a place for print books. and i’m thankful for that.

  • I kinda like both / either. It’s the content for me. If I want to print an ebook out for some reason, I can (and usually just bind it very simply).
    If it’s good content, I’m in, and expect to pay retail. A few ebooks I’ve bought (through clickbank) have been overpriced (in my opinion), because the price has been set at a higher point than what you would pay in a retail shop for a book with similar info. That situation does annoy me – when the merchant requires to set a higher than fair price (to attract affiliates is my assumption).
    But – as long as the content is what I’m looking for, then full retail is no problem.

  • Hiya Jules,
    I love the photos of your recipes, I want to eat them on sight. I thought I had downloaded your free ebooks but whenever I need a feed I need to do it again fresh
    so to speak. I wanted to give them to friends at Xmas but couldnt work out how the stck thngs work. I love the tactile nature of BOOKS and when I take my nanna naps
    I want them. However I love the speed of ebooks or tapping into online stuff. I often
    need no more than a beautiful succulent pic of “the item” plus a quick look at the ingredients in order to be inspired. I wish you well.

  • I was a voracious reader from a very early age to late in my twenties. I have spent years carting tens of groaning boxes of my most beloved books between rental homes all around Sydney.

    When I moved to Europe 4 years ago, I took only one book with me. A copy of the Princess Bride that my father gave me in 1983. I could not take more. They weigh (and therefore cost) far too much to be portable. I return home once or twice a year and have not been motivated once to go through the boxes.

    Give me ebooks that I can download instantly, take anywhere in the world with me on my laptop, and can share between my multiple computers (work, home, laptop and on USB etc).

    I was/am thrilled at the complimentary ebooks available on this site. Amazing quality I would expect to pay at least $20 for. A lot of ebooks out there are a visual eyesore of Comic Sans font and bad clipart. The content, images and simplicity of 5 Ingredients l 10 Minutes ebook alone exceeds some of the very expensive cookbooks I have bought (hardcopy) for friends such as Bill’s Food and Jamie’s Kitchen.

    I will not be able to look at anymore of your recipes until my next cheat day because I want EVERYTHING. But come cheat day….well, none of your ebooks will be safe! ;o)

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