May 12, 2014 Last Updated 9:21 am

Culinate brings Joy of Cooking to the Apple App Store as an app rather than an eBook

Books on Monday: each Monday TNM looks at books and book publishing – either a new book on the publishing industry, a new digital book release, or news on the industry

The digital book platform can look very different inside the Apple ecosystem than it does elsewhere. On Amazon.com, eBooks are generally divided between Kindle Editions and ePUB3 books, with plain vanilla Kindle Editions dominating. The same goes with both Google Books and NOOK eBooks: the options are fixed layout eBooks or free-flowing text books.

But inside Apple’s iBooks Store one also finds books built using iBooks Author, a more platform that lends itself to more interactivity. Then there are the book apps…

Joy-iPad-splashCreating a native app allows a publisher (or developer) more freedom to take the information inside the book and reimagine it for a digital device. Some eBooks can do this, as well, but generally a book like The World Atlas of Wine – 7th Edition, enhances the print book more than reimagines it .

Culinate takes a different approach, one more in keeping with an app developer than a digital publisher. Their app series How to Cook Everything – three apps for the iPad, six total for the iPhone – are good examples of their work.

The latest book app to appear is for the iconic Joy of Cooking. First published by Irma Rombauer in 1931.

The story behind the book is fascinating. Rombauer, a homemaker from St. Louis, first had a few thousand copies of her cook book published by A.C. Clayton, a company that did printing, but had never published a book before. In 1936 the book was picked up by Bobbs-Merrill, a company that was sold first to one company, and the new owner was sold to Macmillan.

Through the years the book evolved and Rombauer’s daughter Marion Rombauer Becker became more involved in the book as a way to keep the project in the family. Today, the original author’s great-grandson John Becker and his wife, Megan Scott, are the ones involved with Culinate in this app project.

“We have worked very closely with Culinate to make JOY’s vast collection of recipes, tips, and reference information more accessible and useful than ever before,” John Becker said in the book’s press announcement. “The result is the essential culinary companion in the kitchen and the grocery aisle.”

irma1943-sm“Over the years, many people have approached the Rombauer-Becker family and Scribner with various digital opportunities for the Joy of Cooking,” said Susan Moldow, President of the Scribner Publishing Group. “It was not until Culinate came along―with their successful history of great cooking apps—that we felt we’d finally found the right partner. Culinate’s vision both preserves and amplifies Joy’s unique qualities in an app that is sure to be the new gold standard. We’ll all wonder how we got along without it.”

The book app is priced at $9.99, though it has been discounted to $5.99 for Mother’s Day.

The app for Joy of Cooking looks nothing like a print book. Instead, it is designed for cooking with a tablet, having layouts in both portrait and landscape (though landscape is what most cooks use, unless they possess a tablet stand such as this one)

The design is on the plain side, but the app is very easy to use and navigate. Features included is a built-in shopping list, custom timers, conversion tools, and the ability to make notes. There is also no online content, so having an Internet connection is not necessary. The app, therefore, is listed as 171 MB download, and once installed takes up 243 MB on your iPad.

Since its original release in March, the app for Joy of Cooking has been updated three times to make minor changes and fix some bugs.

Book apps such as Joy of Cooking, or one like The World Atlas of Wine, make one wonder why some still believe print books are superior to eBooks. The fact of the matter is that they can be, when published in app or interactive form, a completely different product, one that shouldn’t even be compared to a print book. One may like a particular title better in print than in its digital version (or vice versa) but the platforms should be looked at as distinct.

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