Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Publishing 2.0

I have loved Amanda Hesser for a very long time. I got interviewed by her (via email) while I was in college, because she did an article for the NYT food section on how college students make their own meals in the dining halls. Apparently my delicious olive oil dip (nuke it for 30 seconds with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and other dried spices) wasn't innovative enough for her. But I am forgiving, especially when the person in question has exactly the life I would like for myself. Or, at least, has the life I wanted to have when I was 19 and thought there would be nothing better than being a food writer in New York.

I still might think that.

But anyway, she's crowd-sourcing a new cookbook, and I feel a little weird about that. Mostly I feel weird about the fact that Harper Studio is publishing it. (If anyone is somehow delusional enough to be interested in my thoughts on Harper Studio's unique business model, feel free to let me know and I shall babble.) In the case of Lianna's I Am Neurotic, the concept of a book created by user submissions is very appealing - look how neurotic everyone is! In the case of a cookbook, it kind of just feels like people no longer know what's going to sell so they're going to do as little work as possible - "Let's let other people create the content for us."

At the same time, this has a pretty long tradition in the cookbook world - many a community organization fundraiser has revolved around getting everyone's mom to hand in a favorite family recipe to collect in a spiral binding and sell back to those same moms. I'm pretty sure that's the source of my impression that in the 50's, everyone ate fish suspended in Jell-o.

Hold on, what? Yeah. So, I feel weird about Ms. Amanda Hesser stooping to get other people to come up with recipes for her. But I'm sure people will be thrilled to submit their own recipes, and I think I still love Amanda, even though she is not as hot as I thought she would be. I also now, in retrospect, think it's lame that she called her boyfriend (husband?) Mr. Latte. At the time it seemed urbane.

But I'm still going to sign up for the cookbook submission project, because I want to see how it works. And because I want to submit my goddamn olive oil dip recipe.

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