Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

8.11.06

It helps if you like food.

In today's Melbourne Age was this article about collecting cookbooks, featuring a specialist bookshop called Books For Cooks.

The item appears in the Money section rather than in Epicure (which itself can be found under the Entertainment tab rather than Life and Style on the paper's website.)

Whatever. The article's author nails an eternal truth:

An example of quality is the "beautiful, elegant writing" of Elizabeth David whose books, he believes, helped changed the way the English-speaking world thought about European casual food.

How true. It's always about the writing, no matter the subject. People want to read good writing. But then:

Books classed as "different" include publications such as the Liberace cookbook. White says this type of book tends to be collectible because it's "quirky and unusual and there were only one or two print runs".

So even though a book might not have sold because it was rubbish, its very rarity ensures collectability (I prefer this spelling for the noun, it looks better with fewer 'i's).

So there's your formula if you want to make money out of cookbooks: invest in both kinds - really good ones, and really bad ones.

By the way, in a glaring error, the article omits the bookshop's address: it's in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. Or google Cooks For Books.

2 comments:

Ed Charles said...

Glad that you pointed to this article. But it was too late. i've ruined my first edition Elizabeth david by actually using it. Thank god i don't have servats or my mum's Mrs Beeton would be stuffed too.

kitchen hand said...

Ed, I found the item by accident. I don't usually read the Money section.

All my cookbooks are falling apart, not that any are valuable anyway. They are mostly run-of-the-mill ones, apart from an interesting collection of cartoon strips from a British newspaper and published into a book in the post-war years, featuring a family and their efforts to eke out meals with few ingredients. Back and front cover are missing so I can't identify it.