Bestselling Cookbooks of 2012 – Trends & Who’s Buying

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Publishers Weekly’s Mark Rotella explores what makes a best selling cookbook, the demographics of who’s buying, and current cookbook trends, among other topics.

Not surprisingly, as Rotella illustrates, among the prominent components for successful cookbook sales is having appeared on the Food Network, having a QVC ( home shopping channel) connection, or maintaining a successful blog online.

Rotella notes that of the 10 bestselling cookbooks of 2012, author Giada De Laurentiis, whose book “Weeknights with Giada” at #9, had a flourishing career on the Food Network, and blogger Lee Drummond has two books on the charts. Deb Perelman’s debut book (“The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook” at #6 ) is based on her blog of the same name.

One seeming anomaly is food writer and critic Peter Kaminsky, whose book “The Chew: Food. Life. Fun,” placed at #7 — Kaminsky has neither a food blog or a Food Network contract.

At #1, Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa Foolproof” has sold nearly 450,000 copies to date. Ina opened a 400-square-foot store in East Hampton, N.Y., and in 1999 came out with her first bestseller, “The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.”

Rotella claims more women — around 69% compared to 31% of men — buy cookbooks. And according to Bowker Market Research, 27% of cookbook buyers are in the 30–44 age range.

“The two next-older groups (45–54 and 55–64) account for 36% of cookbook customers (with 18% each). Those over 65 make up 15%. Breaking down cookbook buyers by household income, 31% come from households earning $25,000–$49,000 a year.”

Hardcover cookbooks are the biggest sellers but have dropped from 49% in 2011 to 42% in 2012. And e-book sales more than doubled, from 9% to 22%. Amazon is where most consumers buy cookbooks, and its percentage of cookbook sales nearly doubled, from 18% to 36%.

Cookbook Trends

One revealing cookbook trend is in the vegetarian category which Rotella suggests has gone mainstream. Rux Martin, editor of the Rux Martin Books imprint at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, says, “Vegetarian and vegan continue as big trends.

Doris Cooper, associate publisher of Clarkson Potter, says the trend right now is “food that is light on the body and the Earth.”

Clarkson Potter will publish Mark Bittman’s VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health for Good in April. In September, Harvard Common Press will publish One-Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson.

“The healthy-eating trend isn’t likely to go away anytime soon,” promises Leslie Stoker, v-p and publishing director for lifestyle at Abrams.

Matt Wilkinson, whose Melbourne restaurant has its own garden, wrote “Mr. Wilkinson’s Vegetables.”

Top 10 Cookbooks in 2012

1) Barefoot Contessa Foolproof
Ina Garten

2) The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food…
Ree Drummond

3) In The Kitchen with David
David Venable

4) Eat More Of What You Love
Marlene Koch

5) Great Food Fast
Bob Warden

6) The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Deb Perelman

7) The Chew: Food. Life. Fun.
Peter Kaminsky

8) The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes
Ree Drummond

9) Weeknights with Giada
Giada de Laurentiis

10) Hungry Girl to the Max!
Lisa Lillien

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Spence Cooper
Inquisitive foodie with a professional investigative background and strong belief in the organic farm to table movement. Author of Bad Seeds: A FriendsEAT Guide to GMO's. Buy Now!
Spence Cooper


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