Thursday, May 28, 2009
TasteBook vs. Blurb
Last night, my husband cooked dinner, so while he was doing that I started making my own cookbook. I had starting using the BookSmart software from Blurb to do that a couple of weeks ago. I really love Blurb and have used it to make our family's year-in-photos album as well as an alphabet book for my niece. Blurb has tons of different options for how you set up your book and your pages, and they have some really nice, professional and clean looking cookbook options. When the book is open, I wanted to have the recipe on one page and a full-bleed photo of friends and family doing food-related activities (mostly cooking, but eating, drinking, harvesting, etc. all qualify, too) on the opposite page. I got as far as doing 3 recipes with photos, and they look wonderful. Two things were nagging at me though. One is that I really like a spiral bound cookbook that stays open to the recipe that I'm using. (In the professional cookbook writing world, that's probably not the cool thing to do because none of the really beautiful cookbooks are spiral bound.) The second thing that was bothering me was that I would have to get in all the recipes and photos that I could possibly think of this time around because if I didn't, I'd have to edit the book and buy it all over again. I'm always discovering new recipes that I'd like to include. That might not necessarily be a bad thing. It would be kind of fun to publish a "New Edition" each year, but I know I wouldn't be able to throw the old one away, and it would just get confusing and kind of wasteful. So . . . I had seen a reference to Tastebook on the 101 cookbooks site that I mentioned (okay obsessed about) in yesterday's post. I had noticed it a few times on Epicurious, too, so I finally decided to check it out yesterday. It definitely solves the two problems I mentioned above. It's spiral bound and you can order recipe pages individually - perfect! You can include a personal photo on each page. It doesn't cover the whole facing page like I wanted to do with Blurb, but it still looks very nice. The recipe formatting is pretty similar to what you get if you use one of the cookbook templates with Blurb, but it has a few additional fields that it formats nicely onto the finished page like yield, prep time, total time, and notes. I also like that it's all on-line. It usually takes me a really long time to make a Blurb book, and I always worry that after all that work I'm not going to be able to upload it for some reason. I've never had a problem, but still it's a bit stressful. With Tastebook, you upload as you go which offers the other nice feature of being able to work on it or look at it from any computer. The rest of my family wanted to help me with this cookbook, and I wasn't sure how I was going to do that with Blurb. I'm not sure if multiple users can share a Tastebook without making the recipes public (which probably wouldn't be a big deal), but I can at least log into my family members' computers when we work on it together. The other cool thing about Tastebook is that you can suck in recipes from your favorite cooking sites like Epicurious. Most of my recipes are family recipes, so I had to do a lot of typing, but I have 5 or 6 that I originally got from Epicurious, so I was able to get them from there. The only down side to that is that I would have liked to add a photo and some notes on my modifications to the recipe. Maybe there's a way to do that that I haven't figured out. With Blurb, you get to choose your own photo or photos for the cover. With Tastebook, you choose from about 50 different stock photos. Those photos are more beautiful than any I could take, but they're not of my family. Tastebook also has tabbed sections which I think is handy. I don't think you can get that with Blurb. Utimately, I think Blurb gives you way more flexibility in your formatting than Tastebook, but Tastebook gives you more flexibility as far as adding/changing recipes later on - after you get the book. I love the limitless formatting flexibility of Blurb, but sometimes that's why I think it takes me so long - making all those decisions about how I want to format it, then changing my mind and redoing it a few times. Like I said, I had gotten as far as 3 recipes for Blurb, but I was able to do almost 40 last night with Tastebook. I'm nowhere near down yet, but I'll let you know how it comes out.