17 posts categorized "Techie gubbins"

03 September 2010

Adverts on the site

Earlier this week I added bigger, more prominent adverts to the site.  I'd like to know your thoughts, particularly if you find them intrusive. If enough people object I'll probably remove them, or at least return them to their previous format.

I made the change because I'd like the site to pay for itself a bit more efficiently than it currently does.  I write the blog because I enjoy doing so, I know it is never going to earn me any serious money, but I'm sure there is room for financial improvement.  I do ok out of being an Amazon Affiliate and having Google AdSense embedded in the right hand column.  The odd bit of freelancing also helps.

My suspicion is that the new ads will make bog-all difference to the coppers in my pocket and will likely annoy some people.  They're beginning to annoy me, I liked the look I had going previously, so there is a fair chance that they'll all be gone quite soon.  Then again, if I earn a pretty penny, I may be able to overcome my stylistic principles.

30 July 2010

The future of cookery books: iPad or Kindle?

Amazon yesterday announced the launch of their new Kindle.  The claim is that this one is now smaller, lighter, faster and easier to read than the previous version.  Obviously it's up against the iPad.

As prices stand at the time of writing, £149 for the most expensive Kindle versus £429 for the cheapest iPad, the Kindle wins the day if you just want to read.  I know that there's a ton of stuff the iPad does that the Kindle doesn't, which is why many people I'm sure will see that £280 difference as a worthwhile opportunity cost for going for the iPad.  But, what if we're looking at it purely from the cookbook perspective?

What if all you're using your device for is a kitchen tool, so that you can save those sagging shelves and replace the books with some nice artwork or a swanky 3D TV?  What then is your best option?

I ask the question as someone who has a fetish for cookbooks.  I love reading them, the prose, the recipes, the method, the photos.  Going electronic feels very wrong. 

I'm not just a browser, I also regularly cook out of them.  My argument to Mrs S is that that justifies the fetish.  But if I'd just splashed out on a $421 tome even I would be a tad concerned about getting it smattered when cooking.  Of course, I'd still need the tactile pleasure of the book itself, so would probably be tempted to buy both the hard copy and the digital version.  I could see though that this might start to get rather expensive.

By blindly dismissing digital editions, I'd be tilting at proverbial windmills.  Publishing is hard at the best of times, but cookbooks are notoriously tough sellers.  It's only down to the success of the likes of the Nigellas and Jamies, that publishers can print the decent but less popular books.  So going digital, with its inherently lower costs is attractive.

The Kindle is a reading device and more or less that alone.  It is great if all you're doing is looking at text.  But cookbooks are usually so much more than text and the iPad is so much better suited to richer content.  For example, this video is a demo of what you could do with recipes online.  It was developed by William Hereford (and all the rights are his) "as a kind of experiment combining typeface typical of magazines with video which has been shot and edited to feel like a still photograph."



It's very beautiful, of that there is no doubt.  But I'm not sure it's how I would want to interact with a cookery book.  I like to read the long-form version, where I can see ingredients and method all in one place.  But if there was an option to see someone cook the dish, well that is a very attractive idea.  Imagine being able to watch Thomas Keller or Heston Blumenthal preparing every dish they wrote about. 

I crave a stage in a restaurant to learn from these chefs how to cook.  Without any kitchen experience, that's not happening soon.  But being able to watch, time and again, them cook all the dishes in their canon, well that is a a tasty proposition.  You would learn their knife techniques, you would see their methods, you would learn why the photos in the book rarely look like what you put on the plate.

This isn't just a pimped-up version of their TV programmes.  I'm suggesting a combination of a book with long-form recipes, but also the options to go into detail about how they make the dish.  They could chuck-in interviews with suppliers if they want, but I want to see them cooking. 

It would expensive for sure, the chef's time, the design, the production costs for the video and editing and coding, but - and here's the biblio-heresy - so much more valuable to me than a cookbook. There is the obvious question of just how much value would it be to me, what would I pay for it?  I suppose it depends who the chef is.  If it was Jamie, massively over-exposed, probably nothing.  If it was Blumenthal or Keller or David Chang at Momofuku, then quite a lot.  And I'd pay a premium for beautiful style like Hereford's video above, in the same way I did for The Big Fat Duck Cookbook.

The business model is interesting to consider. Would it follow the current cookbook model where the populist items cover the cost of the niche longtail? Or are the populist titles so over-exposed that consumers would have little interest in Jamie in yet another guise?

I'm guessing the economics will err towards the former. Tablet/mobile devices are undeniably popular and mainstream. People will use these devices to consume the sorts of things they previously consumed in hard copy or online. They'll keep watching and reading the one-name-wonders, they'll just be doing it through a new medium.

I assume there are chefs already beavering away in film studios, days on end spent making dishes they haven't made in years, as publishers get ready to ditch print entirely.  If my assumption is wrong, I'm sticking a sodding great copyright symbol on this post and holding the idea as my own. 

So back to the start, if you're looking to make a decision on whether to buy an iPad or Kindle based on how you'd use it in the kitchen, the iPad wins out.  Not necessarily for what you can do with it today, but for the future potential.  I'm really quite excited. 

12 July 2010

A question for my RSS subscribers

If you do subscribe, can you please let me know if you receive one notification in your RSS reader when I post, or multiple?  I seem to be receiving more than one and I can't figure out why.

If you don't subscribe, you really should, it makes reading online so much easier.  Barring, of course, this little hiccup.

Whilst I'm on the subject, if you've got any other feedback you'd like to leave, please feel free to click on the big red button over on the right and let me know your thoughts.  For those of you who have already done so, I really appreciate it, I've found your insights exceptionally helpful.

29 November 2008

FAO those of you reading this via RSS

If you do read this site via the RSS feed, can you please check that you're using this feed: http://feedproxy.google.com/Silverbrow_On_Food.

The Feedburner feed still works, but seems a bit slower than the Feedproxy/Google link above.

If you're not reading this via RSS, you really should get with the program. If you've no idea what I'm talking about, it's time to learn.

10 November 2008

Silverbrow on shopping

As the festive season draws ever closer and the economy goes down the swanny, it feels like now is the right time to cash-in.  Or to put it another way, open up my very own shop.  Sort of.  With the help of Amazon.

Those with a cunning disposition will notice that over on the left hand side of the page, there is a new link to STORE.  Click on it and you will go to my store at Amazon. 

The majority of the things I'm selling are cookbooks.  I have a little obsession with them.  But I will be focusing on other items, things you really need in the kitchen like ice-cream makers or espresso machines.

Within my store I've currently got four departments:

I'll probably tinker with the the stock and departments over time.

Happy shopping!

07 October 2008

Readers, please subscribe

This post is unashamedly lifted from Seth Godin's excellent blog

I take no credit for the post - all the credit is his, but I agree with it all and I think what he says is important for readers of this and other blogs.

If you subscribe to a blog, any blog, congratulations. Not only have you figured out how to keep up, for free, with huge amounts of information, you've done it in an elegant and efficient way. While it may be fun to try to remember which blogs you read and then go visit them in some sort of order, RSS and other subscription tools are way smarter.


I can highly recommend a wide range of RSS tools, which can take your browsing efficiency way up.

And if you're not a subscriber (to this blog and others) today is a great day to start. RSS is a little like radio. Every blog and many news services 'broadcast' a tiny little signal that you can't hear, but your RSS reader can. (It's like a radio tuner). You tell the RSS reader which blogs and news feeds you like, and whenever it senses that signal, it goes out and grabs the post for you. Quick and free. With a good reader, you can easily keep up with 100 blogs in less than an hour.

Some media companies don't like RSS because it means you don't see their ads. I, on the other hand, love RSS because my goal is to reach people regularly, not just with the occasional juicy headline.

You can read the full article here on his site, rather than just my excerpt above.

If you want to subscribe to my feed, click on the orange button on the top right of this page under About.  Or, depending on your browser, in the address bar in Firefox 3 or on your toolbar in Internet Explorer 7.

02 October 2008


I just discovered that the previously announced housekeeping resulted in me turning off comments.  Oops! That's now rectified.