Ever since the internet came on the scene, we have used our cookbooks less and less. It is so much more convenient and functional to use the web to search for recipes, ingredients, techniques, and everything else we want to know. Who knows what's in all those cookbooks we have! While we still enjoy dipping into them for inspiration, they feel far less functional (i.e. searchable) than our trusted food resources online.
But what if your cookbooks were indexed and searchable online? What if you had a virtual bookshelf with all your cookbooks, searchable and cross-referenced by ingredient and keywords? Well, that changes everything. Meet Eat Your Books.
The idea behind Eat Your Books (EYB) is simple. The site has a library of over 15,000 cookbooks, of which they have completely indexed about 900. They do not reproduce the actual recipes or text on the site, but they have created an enormous library of metadata about these cookbooks. You can search, for instance, for chicken recipes and they will show the titles of cookbooks and the names of recipes in those cookbooks that include chicken. Click on a recipe and you'll see a full ingredient list (which you can use to create a shopping list).
Users of EYB pick the cookbooks they own personally out of the huge library of indexed cookbooks and put them on their own virtual bookshelf. Then they can search among just the books they own.
Overall, this is an amazing service to cooks — especially cooks who own a lot of cookbooks. There are treasures in those books that aren't replicated online, and we think that this indexing service can help us get a lot more out of our own books.
The design of the site is lovely and clean, and fairly easy to navigate. There are some things we wish were a little more clear (a big "Add a new cookbook" button would be helpful). The process of finding and adding books to our own bookshelf isn't as intuitive as we think it could be.
Minor quibbles aside, though, the amount of data contained in EYB is staggering, and their site is a true gift to many cooks. Using the service will cost you $25 per year, or you can buy a lifetime membership for $50. Pretty cheap, we think, for a perpetual index of all our cookbooks.
Have you visited Eat Your Books yet?
• Check it out! Eat Your Books
Correction: We initially stated that EYB has indexed 15,000 books. This is not correct. EYB has a library of 15,000 books, but they have actually indexed about 900 of these. They are steadily adding more books and hope to eventually index all 15,000 of those titles (and all 3.6 million recipes!).
(Images: Eat Your Books)