Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you pay for a downloadable recipe?)

One thing that I love to do whenever I have a few spare moments it some kind of handcraft. I dabble in all kinds of things, from embroidery and cross stitch to knitting and crochet and other things. (Here’s my Ravelry page, which I’ve just started updating recently.)

I have a lot of craft books, but most are still in storage since we don’t want to fill up our house with stuff until the renovations are further along. So, I’ve been perusing a lot of online patterns. And something struck me - it’s considered to be quite normal in the craft world to charge something for a downloadable pattern or set of instructions. Many Etsy sellers for instance do this. Prices range from under a dollar on up, to as high as $10.

Now, why don’t people do this for recipes? Well let me answer that: because people wouldn’t pay for them. I suppose this is because people are simply used to not paying for recipes, unless they are bound together in a book - the Nieman Marcus cookie recipe urban myth notwithstanding. On the other hand, knitters and other crafters have always paid for patterns, in the form of leaflets and such, and so they accept the paid download format without question. (I’ve seen a handful of recipes for sale on Etsy, but haven’t seen evidence that they have sold. Recipe collections are another matter - I’m talking of single recipes.)

Is this right though? Do craft directions take more time and effort to get right than say, a complicated recipe? You might argue that some craft directions require diagrams and patterns and such. But then, what if say, a talented bento artist put together a complete set of directions with diagrams for creating a bento landscape? Or what if a cake decorator did something similar for re-creating a gorgeous group of cupcakes - or a caterer gave really detailed instructions for a dinner party?

The strange thing is, when they are gathered together, printed on paper (or in a digital e-book) and presented as a collection in the form of a book, the price for cookbooks vs. craft books is not that different.

Anyway, what do you think? Would you ever pay for a single recipe? If so, under what circumstances? If not, why not? (Also, if you know if any single recipe that is selling successfully, please let me know…I’m curious!)

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Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I may be too age-of-the-internet to answer this question in quite the way you like, because I also don't pay for knitting patterns (there are far too many places to get beautiful ones free online). Though I do pay for sewing patterns, so I can see what you mean.

It would be interesting to see someone set up a recipe-buying service similar to music-buying services. What particularly comes to mind is the way online music-buying services have made it possible to buy individual tracks from an album - in the same way, I think it'd be interesting to be able to buy individual recipes from a cookbook.

However, I would have a hard time bringing myself to pay for an individual recipe because I'm used to the freedom and free-ness of the internet. I love the idea of open-source recipes, free to be traded and tried and improved, and re-locking them down into a proprietary pay format would do more harm than good, I think.

There's also the issue of previewability. You can see what a pattern will look like when done, but you can't see what a recipe will taste like when done. It's still a dice-roll with cookbooks, but those often have added value of giving a broader understanding of certain types of cooking.

I would possibly buy an individual recipe if, say, a restaurant or food brand put out a recipe for an individual dish I really liked, because I would have tasted it ahead of time.

Mar | 28 September, 2010 - 15:41

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

You bring up an interesting point! I never thought about it like this.

I agree that we are just not used to paying for recipes, especially with the proliferation of free peer-to-peer recipe sites like AllRecipes.com and Food.com. I guess I'd be willing to pay for recipe that was to-die-for, but that would have to be one overly amazing recipe!

Despite all the freebies online, I still have to resist the urge to buy a new cookbook or baking book everything I go to the bookstore. I already have a small collection of books (that I can't use because I'm living in a tiny college dorm...), but I just love going through them to look for something new to try. There has to be some psychological reason for us loving bound (or digital) collections haha.

MewKitty | 28 September, 2010 - 16:26

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I think it could also be a matter of who "owns" a recipe. In most cases, if someone charges for a recipe, you would expect it to be "their" recipe, but someone else could sue saying that the recipe was stolen. Of course, if you put 1/8 tsp of salt instead of a pinch, then you could claim the recipe as your own.....I hate that our society is so litigious.
I do pay for recipes if there is value added, like a table of contents, indexing of recipes by ingredients or some fun commentary (like in the Good Eats cookbook). Of course, pretty pictures are a must. :)
BTW: I am anxiously awaiting my Amazon pre-ordered "The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches To Go", Delivery Estimate: January 5, 2011!

anon. | 28 September, 2010 - 16:40

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

Really fascinating question. I'd never heard of people selling single recipes before (and since I'm not crafty, I'd never heard of people selling patterns, either!). I wonder how you'd figure out a price point--if cookbooks containing 150 recipes are selling for $20 (to take your cookbook as an example), how much would you charge for individual downloadable recipes? The math works out to something like 13 cents. 13 or even 25 cents doesn't seem too much to ask for a delicious recipe--but when people are used to getting their recipes online for free, it may be.

Mary Beth | 28 September, 2010 - 16:52

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

Interesting idea! I think in a way people do pay for recipes - cookbooks and cooking magazines. Maybe food blogs just haven't really caught up the way craft blogs have.

That said, I don't really buy patterns anymore (I reverse engineer a lot of things I like, with no intention of selling them or anything - but I'm pretty broke. If someone asks me for details on how I did it, I say that I have a good grasp of Elizabeth Zimmerman, Barbara Walker, and gauge swatches, and if they don't understand it, then they should pony up the $5-$10).

So for me, if I were going to consider buying recipes online, it would have to be something pretty awesome looking. I'd probably like it if it were a whole dinner plan (an appetizer, a salad, a main dish, and a dessert); or like how to mix and match ingredients to make awesome looking bentos for a week. So more like ebooks than single recipes.

If there were some sort of food-ravelry, where you could link to recipes and see pictures, get notes on mods. I think that would help get some sort of grassroots publishing off the ground, the way more people upload pay-patterns now.

Amber. | 28 September, 2010 - 17:13

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I would guess that the problem stems from the fact that how a recipe turns out depends far more on the kind and quality of ingredients you have on hand, and your own skill/talent, than on the set of directions.

Even technically difficult recipes, like flaky pastry doughs, or for very specific flavors of beer, or wine, are far more dependent on the cook knowing things that can't be reduced to a recipe and balancing the precise characteristics of the actual butters, or grains, or grapes. The only recipes that are sale-able are ones that have really precisely defined ingredients, and those are used by the factory-scale food-substance producers.

But beyond that, recipes are only specific instances of food traditions that, God willing, we learn from our families. Once you know what a soup stock is, for instance, you can re-create one from first principles. But sharing exactly how long you cooked the bones (or the konbu) with someone else is a tremendous gift to them - you are saving them many hours of experimentation over many years to get to the same point they would anyway. Sharing recipes, in my opinion, is the right thing to do.

Some might say that it isn't a moral duty to share knowledge. If not a moral duty, it is a practical one: if you don't want your food traditions to die out, you have to teach them.

My background is in the arts and biology: in painting, photography, ceramics (the last two are very recipe based!) as well as in research biology, we only can accomplish new things because we have free access to what others have done before. If a scientist had to work from first principles, or even grad school textbooks to do their work, nothing new would ever get discovered: it would take decades just to reinvent the wheel. (Actually, it would take decades to re-verify some of the more complicated aspects of gene theory. There are a lot more weird cases with a lot more variables than Gregor Mendel's peas.) In Photography, Ceramics, and Biology, if someone shows an interest in the field, we go to some effort to show people where to look for the recipes.

I think it might be prudent to turn the question: why is it that some crafts do have people pay for information? I think it might be that for certain crafts, a pattern might be where most of the creativity is lodged, and a straight copy from the pattern will produce the exact same thing ever single time. This might be like recorded music: it takes thousands of hours of skill and experience to produce a simple pattern (that might need expensive tools to do the first time), but that pattern is fantastically easy to replicate. So we price our patterns based on our best guesses for how popular they might be versus how many we can get to pay for them. The analogy for cross stitch might be pretty good here: a given cross stitched piece is like a concert: pay once to get in. But the pattern is like the sheet music: somebody has to pay once, but everyone after that just has to put quarters in the copier.

There's lots of ways to deal with how to sell sheet music, and all the arguments on who to pay and how much have gone round and round for over 500 years. (Ideally, you'd auction off the first copy for a large sum, and let everyone after that make copies. But that's rarely practical.)

Back to recipes,
I am willing to pay for recipe books, but there I am paying for photography, good printing, testing, editing, and a binding that will probably last thirty years. So, a recipe book is a lot more like a concert or a knit sweater than a list of directions.

Wishing you well,
Tom.

Tom Watana | 28 September, 2010 - 17:17

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

Indeed an interesting question. Paying for a recipe would require having significant trust in the chef - that measurements are precise and alternative ingredients are suggested for "non-standard" items. I would also expect the recipe to be original and that the chef has made it several times.

Creativity and research deserves some kind of reward but the pay-per-recipe model wouldn't work. Maybe a small subscription for recipe credits and a certain amount of credits gets you a recipe book one day?

I agree with the comment above that there may be some "to die for" recipe I would purchase but I would more consider the model I suggested above or a simple "donation" button to support the (non-corporate) site in question.

Thomas | 28 September, 2010 - 17:52

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I suppose the difference is your ability to make it yourself without instructions. I am a confident and skilled cook. If you describe a recipe to me, such as Konnyaku with garlic, olive oil, and chili pepper, I have a pretty good idea how to do it myself. You might have some refined tips from your experience with it, but mine won't be too different then yours.
I am NOT a skilled crafter, and to do something more complicated, I would need detailed instructions and pictures. And I think there are more cooks out there who feel confident winging it and more crafters than like/need instructions.

KS | 28 September, 2010 - 18:39

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

Actually I've bought many single-recipe PDFs on Etsy, from a price ranging from 0.99 to 5 $ (more than that, though, I usually pass without a second glance)
I don't see any difference between buying a recipe and a pattern really, I actually prefer downloads because I get them right away, and they don't take shelf space (which is of capital importance since I moved into my teeny tiny flat...)
So, I think there is a market for single-recipe downloads! I actually like them better than ebooks, because with those - as with real recipe books - I usually end up liking just one or two of the recipes, and feeling a bit disappointed that I had to buy the rest...

Selya | 28 September, 2010 - 19:39

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

Yes, if it involved techniques I was not familiar with and was accompanied by detailed diagrams or photographs.

This is a complicated issue as my mind turns around it...

One thought ponders that while cooking is a far reaching and complicated discipline with some particular subsets, crafting disciplines are even more varied and people are less likely to be skilled in all of them. In addition, crafting usually creates something more tangible that can be shared or gifted repeatedly or further in the future... where cooking has to be shared more immediately, require larger numbers of people together at once to be worth a certain amount of effort, and are in some cases, recipes are less likely to be repeated often.

Connecting also is the large number of food blogs that 'give away' recipes just because or for advertising revenue.

Are cooking blogs more profitable than crafting blogs? Are there more cooking blogs? What about cooking being more of an everyday event than crafting for most people?

And copyright law... how does the letter of the law fit in?

Curious subject. Thanks for the thought exercise!

Erin P | 28 September, 2010 - 19:43

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I think they are apples and oranges...different markets. For craft patterns, you know right away if you like what you see. I wouldn't pay for (downloadable) recipes I might not like. I consider bento layout, plate garnishing, and catering setup to be different from recipes, and would pay for them.

Pat | 28 September, 2010 - 21:37

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

Well, a set of crafting instructions results in durable goods (which can often be modified slightly or give inspiration into something to be sold, even though the instructions often say that the item itself shouldn't be sold). Recipes result in something that is eaten and disappears. I think that's a significant difference in perception.

I'm not saying that's necessarily logical, but I think it probably has a lot to do with it.

anon. | 28 September, 2010 - 22:15

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

P. S. I *have* paid for online recipes: I bought Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything app for iPhone. You may say "that's the same as a cookbook!" but it isn't exactly, because you can't e-mail or print the recipes. However, at $1.99 to $9.99 (depending on the current sale pricing) with all kinds of bells and whistles, it's awfully hard to match that price point.

anon. | 28 September, 2010 - 22:17

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I'd consider a cookbook app to be more akin to an ebook than a single recipe...(I have the How To Cook Everything app too, but I've barely glanced at it for some reason.)

maki | 29 September, 2010 - 00:35

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I definitely wouldn't pay for a recipe. For me, I get inspired to cook something by reading the recipe. If I didn't have access to it in advance, I wouldn't be interested in making it. Does that make sense?

Alyson | 29 September, 2010 - 01:36

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

Against paying for recipes:

1. Most recipes I read, even on my favorite sites, are easily available elsewhere. It's a rare blogger that makes up their own new recipes.

2. If I had to pay for a recipe first, I wouldn't have any idea if it was good or not. Most online recipes are tested once or twice by one person, whereas my favorite cookbooks usually have multiple testers and the recipes are more reliable.

For paying for recipes:

I would pay for recipes from authors I am already familiar with or for single pages of cookbooks that I know. I wish more cookbooks were available like this, in fact, because I would definitely pay for it.

Lina | 29 September, 2010 - 09:21

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I probably would't pay. But I ma a researcher, I know how to find things. And also, being one, I check 3-4 recipes and adjust, making my own variation closest to what I think is the most original recipe. At the same time, as you often mention, Maki, there are so many variations of the "original".
But I DO love your recipes! The last one I tried was negimiso, I was so happy you published it here, thank you!
/t

t | 29 September, 2010 - 09:25

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

When buying a pattern on-line, I KNOW that I can make it and I KNOW (with reasonable certainty) how well it is going to turn out. With on-line recipes, again, I KNOW that I can make it but the knowledge in how it is going to turn out is much less certain. I am more likely to go on-line and find a recipe I might want to try, if it turns out well, I have will go back and purchased which ever book it is originally in. I did this just recently with a celebrity’s cookbook. I would not have bought this over the internet had I not had a recipe sampling from the book. $25 after all is a lot to spend if you don't know how well the recipe will be, and why would I want to spend $1 for one recipe if it is either: 1) going to be lousy or 2) I am going to turn around and spend $25 more to get the book.

It’s not that I am used to ‘getting recipes for free’ from the internet. It is more that I want to be sure I am spending my money on something worth it and that will be used over and over again. I have a three generation collection of cookbooks and I continue to add to this collection. I love cookbooks and I really like the idea of having my tried and true recipes electronically. If I could get some of them for my Kindle, I would be in heaven and would be more than happy to pay for them – just not pay as much as I would for a traditional book.

knab | 29 September, 2010 - 15:00

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

Crafting patterns aren't easy to do from memory and difficult to develop yourself accidentally. I think that is why they are valued individually. For complicated projects, patterns are essential because they help keep everything organized for when we need to return to a project at a later date.

Cookbooks are often treated as reference materials rather than a collection of instructions. Unlike the directions on how the program your DVD player, a cookbook can anthropological information about an era or culture. A lot of this information is lost from looking at just a single recipe.

The individual recipes that people are willing to pay for are closely guarded secrets of restaurants.

Arigomi | 29 September, 2010 - 23:57

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I am an avid cookbook collector, and am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the upcoming 'Just Bento Cookbook'. But I have also put together quite a few three-ring binders of free recipes gathered off of the Internet. Most of the sites that I go to are "free" web-sites that are backed heavily by advertising, or as in the case of the 'Cooking Channel's' web-site, the inclusion of TV programs and links to Social Networking web-sites. It's similar to getting free music or videos off of YouTube, which is heavily laden with advertising as well. To me... in cooking and recipes, if you know the basics, you can "get the feel" of a recipe. For example, I've lived in Japan, and have an extensive Japanese cookbook collection. I can pretty much look at a recipe on-line and "taste" it. But in the case of crafting, I believe that mathematical specifics, as in graphs, specific materials required, as in no substitutions, or counting are critical to a projects success. I Love Tom's explanation about what a pattern is! All said, when it's late at night... nothing can beat thumbing through the pages of a cherished cookbook, and the memories and inspiration that it brings!

Karla | 30 September, 2010 - 01:46

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

My experience with knitting patterns is that freely available ones are hit or miss as far as editing goes. There are certain trusted sites (like Knitty) that have pretty high standards for the accuracy of patterns, but outside of those, the quality of free knitting patterns can be inconsistent. I've had much better luck with patterns that I've had to pay for, probably because these patterns come from reputable publishers.

Free online recipes from blogs are certainly hit or miss as well, but they also have their share of reputable sites.

Would I pay for a one-off recipe that's not in a book? I have to admit I wouldn't. I don't know why, but for the most part, I think of recipes as being more communal and "shareware" than proprietary. Perhaps, as mentioned in other comments, if it comes from a particular restaurant or a particularly famous cook, I could see paying for a recipe, but paying/charging something like my mom's recipe for bean sprout salad (or something along those lines) seems... petty to me.

I can't figure out whether it's the artisan vs. "homemaker" thing going on or what. It's definitely an interesting thing to consider.

yoko | 30 September, 2010 - 03:16

No way!

With all the free recipes out there why would I EVER bother with buying a recipe. I mean there are already cook books out there for that. I don't justify doing that, not when cooks.com, free recipes.com and other sites will still give out free ones. I would never pay I don't care who made up the recipe.

Dina | 30 September, 2010 - 03:25

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I could see paying for access to an online set of recipes - a group of PDF's with pictures, extra notes, tips, all set up nicely. Maybe a set amount to purchase a # of them, or unlimited access for a specific period of time. Then I could print them out and add them to my own book.

kwiksatik | 30 September, 2010 - 06:16

Economy of Scale

Someone earlier said it's apples to oranges. I tend to agree and look at it this way. The average cookbook has what- one hundred plus recipes of some kind or another? The average craft book can get away with as few as 10. So even in the book market, you are already paying far more for craft then for recipes.

Ergo, if you were to sell a recipe online, you could only justify a similar percentage. So we're talking change here. Although as another commentator suggested, it is possible.

Unless I'd had the dish before, I'm more likely than not to surf the web for variations on dishes I want recipes for. How would I know if I was buying the right one?

And keeping on that, if it's a particular recipe you are after, it's more likely than not to already be free on the web somewhere, whereas craft tends to be more individual/specific so there might be things 'like' each other, but rarely the same amount identical.

K | 30 September, 2010 - 17:08

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I agree with kwiksatic - I would pay for access to a database of recipes, but most likely not for an individual recipe.

To expand, I would be more likely to pay for access to a database of recipes if I was unfamiliar with the cuisine or the techniques and there were detailed notes and pictures. To relate back to crafting, I am unlikely to purchase individual knitting patterns because I am an experienced knitter and can usually reverse engineer anything I like. I also tat and I am much less experienced with tatting - I have purchased individual tatting patterns because I need as much guidance as I can get to produce something beautiful. If I already know more or less what I am doing, I am not going to pay for instructions.

I am not trying to be a sycophant, but your recipes would be a good example of a database I would pay for access to. I have learned so much from you - your pictures, instructions and demonstration of techniques give me the confidence to try foods and recipes I am unfamiliar with. And if I were to consider paying for a single recipe, your Tamagoyaki would be the one! All you would have needed to do to sell it to me was point out that you have a technique that involves a pan already in my kitchen (no special square pan) and that there are very clear directions and pictures, notes on variations and different techniques to use based on how comfortable and familiar I am with the recipe. I had wanted to try making tamagoyaki before, but lacked the pan - when you showed me how to do it with the 8" pan I already had, I walked right into the kitchen and made it. (And kept making it!)

Interesting question, Maki!

CarolynA | 1 October, 2010 - 17:00

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

Everyone has brought up very good points. I think the main difference between craft recipes and food recipes is the preview-ability. You can judge crafts pretty well through pictures and blog posts. Generally, crafting tools and supplies are very standardized (needle or hook size, yarn weight and fiber content, etc) so you can usually assume that if you use similar tools you will get something similar to those pictures. With recipes, no amount of gorgeous photography or detailed descriptions will tell your tongue how the food tastes. There is much more variability in the quality and availability of ingredients in your region and the types of tools in your kitchen, so consistent results are more difficult to get. There is also the physiologic difference: not all taste buds are equal. Some people have more, some have fewer; we all have developed our own food preferences over time. So even if a recipe was super simple to replicate, the cook might still need several attempts to get it "just right".

That said, I think the biggest impediment to selling recipes online is cheapness. I'm surprised it works out so well for crafters, when you can find awesome free patterns so easily. Ravelry has probably helped this, and if there was a similarly well-designed, user-friendly food equivalent that might help online recipe sales. TasteSpotting comes close, but needs the user feedback from comments and modifications used or needed.

Jenae | 1 October, 2010 - 21:24

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

Being a law student, I see the main difference as beiung that recipes are not copyrightable under US law (though the exact words used to write the method instructions in a fixed format are), so you can't sell a product to which you don't have exclusive control. I presume this was done because there are many common recipes due to the fact that food is a part of culture and heritage, and nobody knows who first invented any given recipe. If it's not an individual creation, and even if it is it's very hard to verify that someone else didn't create it first, then you can't copyright and sell it. What you are paying for with cookbooks is good quality of instruction, a hard copy and pretty pictures- all presentational aspects.

Kate | 3 October, 2010 - 01:30

Kate has it

Kate is quite right; in the US, recipes are not copyrightable. Crafting patterns are. Therefore it's very easy to set up a fully legal free recipe exchange site with recipes gathered from everywhere; it would be impossible to do so with crafting patterns.

Koimichra | 4 October, 2010 - 21:44

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

"I presume this was done because there are many common recipes due to the fact that food is a part of culture and heritage, and nobody knows who first invented any given recipe."

Actually I believe it's because copyright doesn't protect ideas or methods of operation. Recipes not being copyright-able is similar to formulas not being copyright-able. However the exact way that a recipe is expressed -is- copyright-able, especially if there is substantial explanation/directions/commentary mixed in with what is effectively a formula. Similarly when you buy a cookbook the part that is copyrighted is the way the recipes are organized, the photos, and any supplementary explanations/directions.

anon. | 4 October, 2010 - 20:45

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I don't think I'd pay for a recipe. I've tried many recipes that turned out not to be my cup of tea. There is nothing for me to quantify the result..whether I'd like it or not.

When I buy from Itunes, I know the song I want to buy and know that I like it. There's no hoping I'll like it. 99% of the apps I buy are free...thus I'm not paying for something I'm just going to delete later.

While on occasion I'll "go nuts" *grin* and pay for something that is new and untried, but not on a regular basis.

Gail Cooke | 6 October, 2010 - 05:48

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I would think that you could certainly try and maybe succeed, given what people are willing to pay for these days. I see the justification behind it, though I think that maybe the nature and special place of cooking and eating has something to do with the lack of commodification of recipes.

Personally I think that food is fundamentally something that is shared, and the tradition of passing methods and recipes on to others is deeply ingrained in most of us. Many cooks consider it a compliment to be asked for a recipe and are often flattered that people want to replicate their dishes, or are pleased that their creation or a tradition in their family is being passed down to others. For these reasons I think you're more likely to find cooks willing to share recipes for free, so that a market never really developed for them the way it has for crafts.

anon. | 11 October, 2010 - 06:29

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I did want to clarify that I don't have any plans to sell individual recipes myself. I am just curious about the fundamental difference in ways of thinking in the cooking vs. craft arenas.

As far as the math argument goes, you could make the case for the fact that cooking is in some ways a science...especially baking, and that can be just as difficult to come up with consistently working formulas for.

maki | 11 October, 2010 - 14:28

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I suspect much of this also has to do with the history of sharing food recipes among friends or within families, which no one would charge for (although communities used to do fundraisers by collecting family or personal recipes and then selling the collection, I actually had one of those, though I've lost it since). We don't have the cultural history of sharing patterns in quite that same way.

I think I heard somewherer that there have, on occasion, been individual recipes that were charged for - between professional chefs. Sort of like paying a licensing fee, but I might be wrong.

anon. | 12 October, 2010 - 21:11

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I found "Just Hungry" following a trail on "Just Bento" just last week. Both web addresses are now near the top of my cuisine search list, after I did a search for "my" (ultimate) okonomiyaki recipe in the last month.

I have a "nice" collection of cookbooks and a nicer collection of recipes freely copied from the web (less space though). I would not pay for one single recipe, even paying for a cookbook can be a gamble, more of a gamble is paying for a magazine: some don't work (or are even eatable). Not often, but it does happen. Although it does not stop me from buying cookbooks, and fortunately one magazine contains more than one recipe. But buying a single recipe? I would gladly abandon a web site whose recipes were by paying access only, even if it was the only one cooking site on the WWW. I still have a good head and many friends.

I agree that to buy a cookbook is not different from buying a craft book. There are those (experienced cooks, earlier) who say that by reading a recipe they get the "feeling" of it but for crafts one need to have well detailed instructions. I would say that if you are experienced enough in one craft, you can do the same. I don't buy (books and magazines) for patterns anymore, I know enough of the techniques (and reinvented some), and I just use photographs to boost my creativity. No difference. But if the idea of buying a single recipe can not readily compared to buying a sewing or knitting pattern, one reason could be because one does not have to craft to live (usually, debatable), but one have to eat to live (even if one does not cook). There are those who consider that cooking can be a craft, even artistic. But so many people consider cooking as a "low standing" occupation: so why pay for a recipe when you can share, neighborly? Whenever I share my recipes (and usually the tricks that go with them), I would not want to take money for them, I mean: who am I, right? Anyway, sharing is "pay it forward" kind of gesture.

I would be willing to pay not for a recipe that I value, but to give back something, a bit like for a shareware. Not because I want to pay the chef, or to pay a royalty (even if the question of intellectual ownership may rise, debatable in the case of an omelet…), but to show my appreciation, for those exceptional recipes that could become part of my personal cookbook, copied by hand alongside my favorite mother's recipes, my own, and those jewel recipes from all over than I continue to cook year after year (and to freely share with those who ask after tasting). I would not pay often, but I would honestly give a lot to show appreciation for each of my jewels. Not "pay it forward" but "give to the one before" kind. Although not in $ for my mother's recipes, she would not get it.

nice thought juggling with all of you
Louise

Louise M | 15 October, 2010 - 01:11

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

well if you were to price them comparably with cookbooks you would have to charge like 10 cents per recipe..

the reason people pay for sewing patterns is that people can actually make money (without a license) crafting and selling the items. that is very different from cooking because you need to be licensed to sell food.

people are not going to bother taking out their credit cards and going through the hassle of paying for 10 cent recipes. its just too much of a hassle. Americans in particular are not going to be wanting to do this. we are a lazy people and if something takes too long we tend to give up.. cost benefit analysis. if it costs 20 minutes fighting with paypal to get a recipe that is for a single item, it just doesn't have enough benefit to sustain the practice or make it wide spread.

previewing is an issue.. when you buy a cook book in a store you get to open it and see the actual recipe *before* sinking your hard earned money into buying the book. people arent likely to buy something unless they can be sure that they like/can eat all the items in the recipe.. lots of people have food allergies. and even more people have a food that they dislike.. and many people are on strict diets for diabetes or heart troubles..

the consumer is likely to be 'turned off' and head elsewhere.

and then there is the sellers point of view.. lets get back to cost benefit analysis.

cost:
1. not getting as many people to try the recipes, this would mean less people would trust the chef enough to buy the actual cookbooks in the stores. this would drastically decrease the money coming in from book sales.
2. having to pay taxes on and keep records for 10 cent items. this could get annoying.
3. putting together a system of paying for recipes and maintaining it would cost many hours and the pay wouldnt be worth it in the end. on a good week you might rake in 8$ for 10 hours work. not worth it when you revisit the #1 cost of this.

benefit:
1. gaining small amounts of money for single recipes. maximum of 10$ per week.. (100 recipes)..

does it work? no.. costs outweigh benefits..

ending statement: dont bother trying. it wont work out well for you or the consumer

kate | 18 October, 2010 - 03:54

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I think, too, a lot of has to do with profit. Many free knitting and crafting patterns are offered with the condition that you not sell the completed item. I think it's more likely for people to sell completed crafts (sweaters, mittens, quilts, etc.) than completed recipes. yes, there are farmer's markets where you can buy homemade soup, but I think it's far easier to sell crafts than food as a business since you don't have to deal with the perishable factory.

anon. | 19 October, 2010 - 16:50

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

I wouldn't pay for a single recipe. I don't think I have never followed a recipe in my life, so buying a single recipe would be a bit pointless. I usually read a handful of similar recipes and then interpret the gist of them by making the dish the way I want to do it. Usually I pick and choose the easiest parts of the recipes I read and pick the ones that I have the ingredients for.

Genie | 30 October, 2010 - 11:24

Re: Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you ...

My first instinct was NO! However, I have mulled it over for a while and my reasoned out answer is that I would be very hesitant to pay for a recipe.

I too dabble in many crafts (quilting, cross-stitch, children's crafts, scrapbooking, and more...). As a rule, I do not pay for my ideas. I will borrow books from the library, use free on-line ideas, or work out a project from a photo. If the instructions are not with a project on-line or I have to pay, I simply do not do that project.

Recipes are very sensitive for me. I do have a collection of cookbooks that have been gifts, but I dislike most of them. My favourites are ones I have borrowed from the library to 'test' and I then ordered a copy for myself if there is enough in the book for me to justify the cost. Despite having a knack for picking good recipes, I have had a few failures from my online adventures (all free of course). So I would be hesitant to pay for an untried recipe.

Good, simple, home-style japanese recipes are very hard to come by on-line or in the library books I have taken out. I was so excited when I found your site last summer and we have slowly incorporated many of your recipes into our family's staple foods. In fact, I used your gyoza recipe to design my own vegetarian gyozas last night and the look of pleasure on my 5 year old daughter's face was a huge reward. Thanks to your clear, simple instructions I have mastered simple recipes and am confident to try out new ones that would normally be out of my comfort range. Because of my successes I would be willing to pay a small fee per recipe, but because we aren't in a financial situation to spend much extra money I know we would lose out on the wonderful world of food that you write about.

I guess what I am trying to say is that people who know your sites already would be more inclined to pay a small fee, but you would loose out on newer subscribers who don't want to take a gamble on the unknown.

I hope that makes sense.

ps - thank you for your fabulous sites! We love your recipes and look forward to eating them (my birthday is in a few days and I have the extra gyozas in the freezer and will make your yummy teriyaki bites to go with them for my birthday dinner. Add some veggies and rice and I will have a perfect meal!).

anon. | 20 December, 2010 - 19:08

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