Condé Nast cooking site Epicurious is selling Random House digital cookbooks that users can import into their “digital recipe boxes.” However, they cannot access the cookbooks they buy anywhere except through the Epicurious app and from the Epicurious website.
Epicurious plans to partner with other publishers as well, but the program’s initial launch is with 75 Random House cookbooks from across the company’s imprint and includes titles from Bobby Flay, Giada DeLaurentiis and Martha Stewart, among others. Earlier this year, Random House signed up as an Epicurious content partner and made some individual recipes available through the site.
The digital cookbooks range in price from $10.99 to $24.99. Users buy them through the Epicurious website, which has partnered with cookbook community site Tastebook.com to handle the purchasing. Users can import all the recipes in each book directly into their digital recipe boxes (where they can also store recipes from Epicurious’s other content partners, like Gourmet and Bon Appétit). They can access their recipe boxes from the Epicurious iOS apps. The feature will be available for Android by the end of the year. Starting December 21, users will be able to gift e-cookbooks to each other.
The basic version of the Epicurious app is free, but users who want to access their saved recipe box recipes from their mobile devices have to pay $1.99 to add the “Recipe Box Sync” feature.
Users who want to read the digital cookbooks as a whole can click the “Cook from the Book” link included with each recipe, and are automatically brought to the cookbook to page through. This does not seem like the easiest way of reading the digital cookbooks in full, but reading the cookbooks in full isn’t really the point of this partnership, though Epicurious says these versions are “as close to the printed version as you can get.” Random House already sells all of the titles included in the Epicurious partnership as standalone e-books, so users who buy them through this platform presumably want to access their recipes individually.
Still, the process adds another layer of complication to accessing e-books that a user has already bought–and requires the user to read the cookbooks through the Epicurious platform, rather than the e-reading platform where they store any other e-books they own.