Books + Magazines

Joy of Cookbooks!

September 29, 2009

How is your day going? If you’re looking for inspiration (as I was), spend some time in your local bookstore in the cooking section. Oh my! There are so many great titles releasing right now as the holidays roll in. I found a few that I scooped up immediately, one is called La vie en rose by Murielle Rousseau (heavenly French recipes!) with illustrations by Berlin-based artist Stefanie Roth and the other is Gemüse and Gemüse by Delphine de Montalier (a vegetarian cookbook, gemüse means vegetable in German). With food photos to die for, styling to learn from and even some personal references to family along with pretty illustrations, they are both such inspiring cookbooks. It’s dark here now and well, I just removed my precious new books from their bag in my somewhat dark living room so excuse the poor lighting. But I couldn’t wait until tomorrow to share — the ‘feeling’ may be lost and no doubt I’ll be onto other things! :) So here’s a few snaps of what inspired me today…

Joy of Cookbooks!

I can’t wait to crack them both open and start preparing meals for Fall. But this post isn’t a book review for either of these titles, it’s merely to say that the cookbooks in your local bookstore may be a great place to look for inspiration. The presentation of food in newer books seems to be stronger than ever — styled beautifully with food so enticing that you wish each page had a scratch ‘n sniff sticker so you could experience the smell of each recipe to go along with the visuals.  ha ha. :) No seriously, the photos really draw you in and make you want to cook but even more… they give you ideas for color palettes and even styling ideas for the home. I was looking at one and noticed how beautifully olives looked with turquoise dinnerware and hadn’t given it much thought before today… now I’m thinking of how nice it would be for presenting a meal or setting a table. So, need some inspiration and unable to find a decorating book you really click with lately? Try a cookbook, you never know what could come out of it — in addition to a great meal of course!

Joy of Cookbooks!

Joy of Cookbooks!

Joy of Cookbooks!

Joy of Cookbooks!

And a BIG P.S. on this post because I hope major booksellers everywhere read these words and put this into practice immediately… it’s popular here, at least in the bookstores I’ve visited, that books that have photographs in them — like coffee table books, cookbooks, art and design books, etc. have a “customer” copy on top a stack of shrink-wrapped copies. I LOVE THIS. I have been telling my husband for YEARS when we were living in the states that bookstores should have a customer copy and then all the others should be in shrink wrap. Why? It made me feel annoyed with people would take books into the restroom, cafe, or even just sit in those chairs at large booksellers for hours, breaking the spines, bending pages, etc. and then not buying them. It was getting so bad in our local Barnes & Noble that I would only go to flip through a book that I was interested in and then I’d go home and buy it on Amazon because at least that way I knew the book was new – it would arrive unused and in shrink wrap. I once bought a book for $50 and it had a coffee stain on a few of the pages! Now that I’m in Germany, I go to the bookstore and find my idea in practice and let me tell you, it’s a great idea and not just because I had it. he he. It truly makes buying a book a wonderful experience again because well, I want to be the first to crack it open and smell that fresh book smell. :) Does this sort of thing matter to you?

(images: holly becker for decor8)


  • Reply Lucy September 29, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    What a fantastic idea!! And yes that matters to me too, with magazines as well! It infuriates me when people do that… and I love that new book smell… ooooh what a treat!!

    I actually visited the Library today, but I skipped the cookery isle and now I’m soooo disapointed!!! I know where I’ll be back to soon….

    Have a lovely evening Holly,
    .-= Lucy´s last blog ..A trip to the Library… ‘The Sixties’ and ‘Retro Style’ =-.

  • Reply pixie September 29, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    It *does* matter! I’ve had the misfortune of buying a book that had crinkled pages and food stains at B&N. I guess someone picked it up, leafed through it while eating and drinking at the cafe area and then put it back on the shelf. I love books and can’t stand to see them “mistreated” lol. I don’t think they should be allowed in the cafe area!
    .-= pixie´s last blog ..When I Treat Myself… =-.

  • Reply jen jafarzadeh September 29, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    I’ve never thought about it until reading your post, and you’re so right. It is gross when you think of how people sit at the Barnes & Noble cafes and even head to the bathroom with books you then buy. I think the shrinkwrap idea should be enacted!
    .-= jen jafarzadeh´s last blog ..alternative frames =-.

  • Reply OdetteO September 29, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    The look of a book – whether it has photographs or not – matters very much to me – if I didn’t care about the look of books, I’d just read them in electronic format. Not only am I willing to pay a bit extra for a new-looking book, but I refuse to lend a new book to friends until I’ve broken it in myself – a small, harmlessly selfish pleasure I allow myself.

    La Vie en Rose looks beautiful! Wish it was available in English (& in the US).
    My favorite cookbooks for visual inspiration are definitely those by Tessa Kiros. I hope her blog will be active soon – I can’t get enough of her world. :)

  • Reply krystal September 29, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    very well said both you and OdettoO. i buy the books as “decorations” to put on shelves, photos inspire and bring things to life. i’m very glad to see your preferred practices in order over in germany. thank you for your inspiring blog.

  • Reply hayley September 29, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    I may be in the minority here, but I don’t mind when the books I buy have been read or used before. I appreciate the getaway of being able to go to bookstores and peruse the aisles without HAVING to buy the book…so in turn I don’t mind when the books I do end up buying have been looked at before. :)

    Also, I always try to buy pre-owned on Amazon when I can. I just love books that have had a life before me.

    • Reply decor8 September 29, 2009 at 5:08 pm

      Hayley – You can STILL peruse the books here, but just the one at the top of the stack that isn’t shrink wrapped. If the shrink wrapped copy, for some reason, is gone you just ask the clerk to remove the wrap from the next book so you can look at it.

  • Reply Anjuli A. September 29, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    I totally agree! Even with magazines, I will reach to the back of the stack for the most pristine one to buy for myself. I absolutely love the feel of new pages. I had a huge collection of paperback novels when I was a kid, and I would really have a cow if my sister even put a small crease in any of the pages when she read them. So there’s no way I’d buy a wrinkly book from the store!
    .-= Anjuli A.´s last blog ..Kitchen Cart, Nerd-Style =-.

  • Reply Lauryn September 29, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    I love the idea of shrink wrapped books, especially the more expensive ones. I typically go to the bookstore to preview the book and buy it on amazon because it’s much cheaper there but also because I know it’ll be in minty condition. I also have a habit of looking through entire stacks of magazines to find the ones that aren’t bent or torn because it bothers me for some reason.

  • Reply Ele September 29, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    I absolutely know what you mean about cookbooks! As someone who loves reading (and reviewing! them, I often find design/styling inspiration in my favourite ones.

    I do have to disagree about the shrinkwrap, though. Many kinds cannot be recycled, which makes it horrible for the environment :( When I moved to the UK from Canada three years ago, I was appalled by the amount of superfluous packaging in the shops. Even most magazines come wrapped in plastic here- it’s so wasteful. Besides, the best cookbooks end up splattered, stained and dog-eared, anyway! (Though I might feel differently about pretty design or coffee table books.)
    .-= Ele´s last blog ..Quick, easy, impressive: Broccoli & Cheddar Risotto =-.

    • Reply decor8 September 29, 2009 at 5:06 pm

      Ele – Not sure about other locations, but Germans are HUGE on recycling and so everything we remove when we come home goes into the proper cans and gets recycled. If you do not recycle here you pay hefty fines and they won’t take your trash bag! It’s THAT strict!

  • Reply Honey September 29, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Hi! I’m a new reader so haven’t commented here before, but I already love you blog and check it every single day!! I’m a 25 year old illustrator who lives in Denmark. I recently went to the States for the first time (even though I’m half American), and was in utter shock when I noticed people in Barnes and Noble reading huge stacks of magazines while drinking their coffee, and then putting the magazines back afterwards. That would never happen in Denmark. You’re just not allowed to do that. And you most certainly can’t bring a book to the bathroom. I actually took a picture of the ladies reading the magazines ’cause I had to share it with friends back home. I would not want a book or magazine that other people had read before me. I also love the new book smell and feel. Once I bough a “new” book on Amazon that turned out to be used, full of coffee stains and what not and I could never get myself to read it. Vintage books is another thing, but when you buy a new book it has to be new. So I’m really glad you get to experience bookstores the European way. Though I love Barnes and Noble and had a really hard time leaving it. I probably went there every single day on my visit. It was the best bookstore I’ve ever been in and I bought so many design and decorating books that I got a free membership card haha.

  • Reply juliette September 29, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    I just had to smile when I read this – all of this! I just came home from my nutrition/cooking class. I’ve been so inspired by some of the dishes classmates have been bringing in (we get to take home lots of things each week). It’s so funny how things can totally surprise you – the most random things are inspiring – LIFE is inspiring!

    and yes – grody books are just that: grody. I like the ‘customer/sample copy’ idea very much and am always happy to see it in practice! =) I hate digging to the back of the shelf like a freak to find the non-gross books!
    .-= juliette´s last blog ..Stoffmarkt Holland in Frankfurt: a Fabric Market in Germany =-.

  • Reply Pam September 29, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    I don’t really look through all the pages but after someone coffee spill, I think I will when at at a bookstore. Most of the time I buy used books at Amazon,pretty decent conditions even paperbacks.

  • Reply nicoletter September 29, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Oh I now the cooking book “Gemüse & Gemüse”. It’s really good one!
    .-= nicoletter´s last blog ..Ein süßes Geschenk von… cute gift from… =-.

  • Reply Sarah September 29, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    You’re so right about the shrinkwrap idea. I work in a Museum bookshop that is also home to the toyshop. So along with adults thumbing their way through pretty books and often causing damage that means we have to discount the price, we also have kids running around picking up and putting down books!

    Luckily, the manager just invested in a shrinkwrapping machine so we do what you’ve talked about – leave one copy for customers to peruse, and have the rest pristinely wrapped and ready for purchasing. Aside from being way better for the books, it also provides a new task at work – shrinkwrapping! It’s pretty fun haha.
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Mala Iqbal =-.

  • Reply Page September 29, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I want to be the first to crack it open and smell that fresh book smell. – yes that matters to me too! I collect cookbooks. Since my husband sometime cooks and do nothing to discourage that, some of my cookbooks have some splashes. But for the most part I keep them impeccable.

    There is a bookstore in Coronada, CA that has customer copies and the rest in shrink wrap and a lot of their books are expensive coffee table books. ~Page

  • Reply jennifer September 29, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    The German booksellers are brilliant! When buying magazines, I always try to take one from the back of the stack, because I want a clean copy.
    I didn’t realize people are allowed to take bookstore books into restrooms. Yuck!
    .-= jennifer´s last blog ..Roadtrip to see U2! =-.

  • Reply Linda September 29, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    I think shrink wrap is unnecessary for environmental reasons but I totally agree with the feeling of a new fresh book and I wouldn’t buy one if it wasn’t brand new so your idea of a ‘customer copy’ is great. I buy all mine online though because they are almost always less expensive.
    I just got Amy Karol’s new book in the mail and every time I open it I get excited with the fresh clean pages and the ‘new’ smell….that smell is probably toxic glue…but hey! :).

    • Reply decor8 September 30, 2009 at 2:55 am

      Linda – No, it’s not toxic glue smell :) It’s yummy book smell! Shrink wrap is low-density polyethylene and here we recycle everything – it’s mandatory — so I don’t worry about these things here. We have to sort EVERYTHING when we throw it away, washing out plastic containers, glass bottles, etc. and then placing them in the proper bin – I have 5 bins in my kitchen for this (paper, plastic, regular trash, bio trash and glass bottles).

  • Reply Eileen September 29, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    I was so mad when I got home from New York last time. I had bought a book called The Printed Picture based on an exhibition at MoMA. The exhibition was wonderful and I thought I will buy a book for this exhibition even if it is out of my budget. It wasn’t (thankfully) and I did. It was wrapped and I wouldn’t even open it before I left. I packed it still wrapped. Unfortunately, some over-zealous airport security person unwrapped it for me, which I discovered when I got home and eagerly opened my suitcase. I wanted to be the first to unwrap it! I swear I could see fingerprints on the cover.
    .-= Eileen´s last blog ..September 18-19, 2009 =-.

  • Reply Penny Patten September 29, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    I have a large collection of cookbooks, and it is fun to find new receipes and inspiration. The ones you picked up look fun and interesting. Happy cooking. (I always pick up the back magazine off the rack just for that reason.) I do purchase a lot of books through the mail!

  • Reply Frugal Bon Vivant September 29, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Same, it drives me crazy! I usually shop Amazon anyway, because they’re cheaper, and I hate the coupon game that bookstores play. I know, I know I should be supporting local stores, but I usually just use the library instead! :)
    .-= Frugal Bon Vivant´s last blog ..10 Things That Make Me Happy =-.

  • Reply Cookie Cutter September 29, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    I’m a real nit-picker! If they don’t have the books shrink-wrapped, I would never purchase the first copy placed right in front. Imagine what others have done with it! Dog-earred, creased… Hehe, I’m a real twit with regard to books, ain’t I?
    .-= Cookie Cutter´s last blog ..Dear Ono Castle =-.

  • Reply Jenn September 29, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    hmm, mixed feelings. i buy used books *all the time*…actually most of our library of books are used. so i don’t mind used. if it was a photography book or a special “coffee table” book, i’d want it brand new. however, seeing the people at b&n reading pretty much the entire book and then putting it back irks me…not because i may buy a “read” copy…but because they are reading it first, therefore they don’t have to buy it. or even worse, i’ve seen people jotting down recipes or instructions from books, so they wouldn’t have to buy it. what the???…it’s just rude.

    • Reply decor8 September 30, 2009 at 2:49 am

      Jenn – When I buy paperbacks I am happy to find them used, not a problem. And I have a ton of used books from classic literature to children’s books. My husband collects antique books. I’m talking about the books that are in the book store currently that are more coffee table books or have beautiful images inside that cost $20 or more. I don’t want to pay full price for a used book from a book store is what I mean. :) :)

  • Reply Iva September 30, 2009 at 12:40 am

    Those books look so pretty! I love the illustrations:) It’s funny how people who have something to do with design choose even the cookbooks according to it, hehe :)
    In our bookstores most of the expensive books are wrapped and there is only one copy that is not and you can go through it. It sometimes happens that there even isn’t one that is not unwrapped so you have to ask for the assistant to unwrap it for you. I have to be honest, I am sometimes a little shy to ask for book number 14 to be opened for me, but going through an expensive books with emphasis on images is really important to me. Your idea really does sound good and I am sure it’s working great. Buying a book that is only yours and still smells like brand new is the best!

    p.s. I am totally digging the scratch `n sniff stickers on cookbooks, lol :))

    have a lovely day!
    .-= Iva´s last blog ..Did you notice? =-.

  • Reply caro September 30, 2009 at 4:09 am

    Oh, these illustrations are so beautiful. I think I’ll visit my bookseller in my lunch break today :)

  • Reply Muriël September 30, 2009 at 5:27 am

    Of course, if you are paying for a new book, you want a new one!!! Especially when you have been looking forward to a certain book you want to have the experience of opening it for the first time. I always get a book from somewhere ate the bottom of the pile.
    .-= Muriël´s last blog ..An apron with plaid =-.

  • Reply Ana September 30, 2009 at 5:45 am

    Here in Portugal, it is now starting to happen. I just love the smell of a new book!
    .-= Ana´s last blog ..Recomeçar / Starting over =-.

  • Reply Laura September 30, 2009 at 11:32 am

    They do in bookstores here in Canada (Vancouver). I love the idea of being the first one to crack open a book as well and finding the new book smell. LOVE the idea of having shrink-wrapped books in bookstores as long as there is a customer copy ontop.

  • Reply fresh365 September 30, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Holly, I completely agree. What a great idea! If I’m buying a new book, I always grab a book at the back and check if the spine has been cracked. I want to be first! I can’t get enough of book stores, and cook books in general. The images and illustrations just capture me. This one looks divine!
    .-= fresh365´s last blog ..Halloumi Kabobs =-.

  • Reply Ali @ September 30, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Beautiful!! I absolutely love the illustrations. So inspiring! :)

  • Reply Hayley October 1, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Hi there. I run a small art book store and we would go completely broke if we had a “customer copy” for each of our 500+ titles. Most of the time I take risks buying obscure books and unknown artists and can only afford to purchase 1 copy of each. Books typically wholesale at a 40-45% discount, which means that for every $50 book, the book store spent around $30 [plus shipping]. With such a small mark-up we can’s afford customer copies. Just be nice to books in stores.

    • Reply decor8 October 1, 2009 at 2:58 am

      Hayley I agree completely. In my post I was referencing major retailers like Barnes & Noble – certainly not a small shop. Here we have small boutiques too and they’ll have a few copies of this or that book but the bookseller also doesn’t have sofas and a cafe and a restroom where customers can potentially break the spines and stain them. In small shops, of course, shrink wrapping books or having a guest copy is not expected. In fact, someday if I open a small shop and carry some books, they won’t be wrapped at all. But again, I won’t have a massive store with chairs and sofas where people are mostly free to roam without any real supervision.

  • Reply Malgos October 1, 2009 at 5:50 am

    it’s funny!! Lately I fell in love with a cookbook published in Poland and after having read your post I realised it’s the same book!!! It’s by M. Rousseau and illustrated by S. Roth but the cover is a bit different and the title is ” A table!”…….
    .-= Malgos´s last blog ..Candy Girl =-.

    • Reply decor8 October 1, 2009 at 7:57 am

      Malgos – that is her other book – it’s beautiful too isn’t it? I have to order that as well…

  • Reply elle and grace October 1, 2009 at 9:57 am

    oh so true about the shrink wrap!!! but i must confess, i am one of the guilty ones that sit on the big sofas, thumbing through the books for the information i require :( sorry! I figured, if i liked it well enough, i can always get it as an e-book or as you say, from amazon.

  • Reply jja October 3, 2009 at 7:32 am

    If I buy a new book I want that the book is brand new, packed etc. But if I (I do this from tiem to time) buy some expensive books for job, used one for 100 Euro, I don’t mind as long as it doesn’t smell like cigarette.

  • Reply Alexis February 17, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    I believe books were meant for ereaders and the next big thing is an interactive digital library …the napster of books…that you pay a small fee upfront yearly and then you have access to the latest and older titles as many as you can possibly read. Holly, I cant wait til your ecourse starts. My blog needs help to become professional looking and reading. I am or used to be a journalist. Now, am semi-employed as an office manager. I like to read and write about food and home decor and photography. I have a digital point and shoot camera which does video too but I have to figure out the sound quality on the video. I do my blog with my husband. Ideally, he is supposed to shoot still and video footage while I write and take some of the photos. I hope this blog isnt too ameturish for your class. I really want to write and shoot a professional blog. I hope my fledgling thing can be worked with…saved.

  • Reply Ivy & Peel August 26, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    For me, I think it would depend on the book in question. Coffee table books ? yep, I like them as fresh as they can come and will always dig for the last book in the pile that definitely has not been thumbed through as those at the top.

    But i’m not that fussed about cook books and the rest – i usually get them from Amazon, sometimes as ebooks or used copies. They’re going to get soiled anyway, so as long as they serve their purpose, i’m fine.

  • Leave a Reply

    Scroll Up