Eater asks "is the future of cookbooks digital"? They say yes, and to an extent, they are right -- the future of cookbooks is digital, just the way it was back when folks were wondering if cooking blogs would make cookbooks obsolete. There will always be someone stoked about a future platform that will turn your digital Julia Chilld MTAOFC into a vertiable KITT of the kitchen, because "publishers speculate you'll soon be able to turn the pages using voice commands so you won't have to get your reader dirty." But the Cod's bet is that the all digital book utopia will continue to reside in the future, right where it's been for decades.
Dirty is one not the only, issue, but worth considering. Not even the most sophisticated tablet/iPad/etc, can eliminate the need to bring your sophisticated and costly tablet/iPad/etc. into an environment where there is fire, water, grease, and any number of other things that are not good for electronic device. If your kitchen looks like Thomas Keller's, maybe it's viable, but for the rest of us, it seems like a a dicey proposition.
The predictions the almost always savvy Paula Forbes makes is based on a "future of books" timeline from a website called TechCrunch. It's either a troll contra paper advocates, "The book is, at best, an artifact and at worst a nuisance," or, more charitably, asking a tech blog theabout the futre of text is a little like asking your Zumba instructor what the most popular cardio exercise will be in 2025.
The future Forbes sees for "dead tree" publication is an art object niche:
While books like The Joy of Cooking and Mastering the Art of French Cookingwill go digital-only, there might still be a place for the dead tree variety of cookbook. There's one area the printed book has digital beat: the cookbook as art object. More and more in recent years big name chefs have been releasing huge, photo-heavy tomes.
Achatz, Adria, Blumenthal etc. are the usual suspects here, but predicting a niche this narrow for print cookbooks does not account for how people exchange and use cookbooks. The social relations that are constellated around a cookbook make no sense in a digital realm. A digital cookbook as a wedding gift calls to mind Roast Beef's speculations about how robots have sex; a digital cookbook as heirloom is ridiculous, even if DRM permitted passing the text from mother to son.
The Cod imagines that digital cookbooks will grow -- it would be handy to have access to MTAOFC while you were on a business trip, in case you needed to poach a trout all of a sudden. But they will displace print cookbooks slowly and partially. At the risk of sounding like George Wallace, print today, print tomorrow, print forever. And many thanks to @pennypascal for the Peerless Photoshopping.