By Kristi Willis
Creating personal cookbooks is an age-old tradition that used to require not only publishing prowess but hour upon hour of labor spent compiling and formatting recipes. But thanks to new online tools and desktop software, now anyone can easily create an eye-catching cookbook.
Authors can choose from four types of applications:
• Online cookbook-specific tools with highly stylized preset templates that have the finished look of a professionally published cookbook
• Online self-publishing programs that offer control over the format of the book and how it’s bound but require the creator to do the design
• Photo-sharing sites that offer the ability to print books containing text and pictures using stylish formats
• Desktop recipe storage and organizing software with the capability to print a basic book or export a document to be formatted further in a word processing or desktop publishing tool
Picking the right tool depends on the desired level of control over the design, the number of recipes for the book and the price point.
(tastebook.com): Create a hardcover cookbook of up to 100 recipes by adding personal recipes and photos or choosing from its online collection. Authors can personalize the cover, dedication and chapter pages in the online studio software, and the program creates the table of contents for the book. The binder format and complimentary plastic sleeves make it easy to add recipes over time. Cost: $39.95 for the first book. Platform: online, iPhone app for recipe searching.
CREATE MY COOKBOOK
(createmycookbook.com): This web-based cookbook tool provides the ability to pick the binding style and customize each page of the cookbook, up to 100 pages. Cost: $19.95 for spiral bound and $34.95 for hardcover. Special pricing is available for nonprofit fund-raising books. Platform: online.
(lulu.com): While not exclusively for cookbooks, this self-publishing site offers a cookbook template in three sizes—square, compact and wallet—with a choice of hardcover or paperback binding. The site’s Cookbook Wizard guides users through picking a theme with predefined page layouts. For more choices in size and layout, the standard Book Wizard offers additional flexibility but requires users to do the design work. Cost: $9.99 for a 20-page paperback cookbook (additional pages $1.00 each). Standard books start at $6.04 for a black-and-white paperback book. Platform: online.
(blurb.com): Blurb presents users with three different bookmaking options based on how much assistance or control is desired. Choose from the online Bookify program that provides predefined templates, the BookSmart downloadable software with fully customizable layouts and designs or the Adobe InDesign plug-in that makes it easy to apply the book formats in the desktop publishing software. None of the templates are specific to a cookbook layout, though. The final product can be bound in hardcover or paperback. Cost: $19.95 for a 20-page soft-cover book. Platform: online and desktop.
(shutterfly.com): This photo-sharing site offers the ability to print books using predesigned, lively layouts that include the My Recipes and Favorite Recipes templates. Users can add optional embellishments to the pages, but have little ability to customize other design elements. The layouts can be difficult to manage for long recipes. Cost: $29.99 for a 20-page book. Platform: online.
(snapfish.com): Also selling personalized photo books, this photo-printing service partners with Flickr, an online photo-sharing site, to make it easy to upload your online food photos. Users can choose from a number of designs, but the selection does not include any cookbook or recipe-specific templates. Like Shutterfly, the layouts do not accommodate lengthy recipes. Cost: $29.99 for a 20-page book. Platform: online.
(livingcookbook.com): This award-winning recipe-management software gives users the ability to add recipes to a cookbook, then the program creates an index based on the recipe ingredients. The book, produced in a 5.5” by 8.5” booklet size, can be printed directly from the program or exported to Microsoft Word for additional editing. Publishing and binding the book are up to the customer. Cost: $34.95. Platform: desktop, Windows only.
COOK'N RECIPE ORGANIZER
(dvo.com): This desktop software organizes recipes and photos into chapters that can be used to create a cookbook with a customizable title page and auto-generated table of contents and index. What the program lacks in design features, it makes up for with an easy-to-use interface for easy cookbook production. Publishing and binding the book are up to the customer. Cost: $79.95. Platform: desktop (Mac and Windows), iPhone, iPad and Android apps.