December 5, 2023

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“Jeroen Meus is without a doubt the most popular cookbook author on the Internet”: but does he also sell the most cookbooks?  |  To eat

“Jeroen Meus is without a doubt the most popular cookbook author on the Internet”: but does he also sell the most cookbooks? | To eat

From Sunday, October 28 to November 5, there will be Boektopia, the new version of the book fair. Cookbook authors often seem to be scoring better in sales figures in recent years, but do we still buy these books as often today, when we can find free recipes online with just one click of the mouse?

“Cookbooks still take up a large portion of the market,” he says. Patrick Boykins From Booktopia. “In the ‘entertainment’ category, more than a third of sales are for cookbooks. Much more than books about all other hobbies and tourism. For these reasons, they are building several test kitchens in this year’s edition. This kitchen will be useful, because ‘experience’ It is the word that appears most often in Uitgeverij Lannoo, Standard Uitgeverij, Borgerhoff & Lamberigts.The public wants to see the chefs live at work, taste all the delicious food and preferably chat with the chef.

Autograph sessions are an experience

“There are no studies on the duration of the signing session,” he says. Catherine Beausart From Lannoo Publishers. “But I am sure that today they take twice as much time as before, when a signature was enough. Nowadays the content is more important than that signature. Readers want to taste and share their experience with the author. Last year we organized a lecture and dinner with Ottolenghi, and 400 places sold out within 24 hours.The launch of Pascale Naessens’ latest book, attended by 250 people, was also fully booked for the day.

This connection with the author is one of the reasons people come to a book signing.

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“That connection with the author is actually one of the reasons people attend an autograph session,” he says. Mickey Deprez From Standard Uitgeverij. “When Jeroen signs Meus, it’s a chance for people to see someone they see every day on TV in real life, but it’s also nice for Jeroen to chat in real life. She notes that both parties go home feeling good.

also Isabelle Bones Van Borgerhoff & Lamberigts knows that time is an important factor in signings with famous authors like HLN President Sandra Beccari. “We’ve noticed that she has a loyal fan base who love talking to her. We see these people at other events because they feel like they know Sandra and want to come up and say hello.

Online popularity versus sales numbers

Do authors who are popular on social media automatically achieve great success in the book market? It’s not that simple, in my opinion Victor Brosmans, who investigated this for Ghent University. “There is no clear relationship between online popularity and cookbook sales,” he says. “If we look at the popularity of online cookbook authors in Flanders, Jeroen Meeus is without a doubt number one. Whether on Google, Instagram or Facebook. And if we also look at the sales figures for cookbooks, we see that Pascal Nyssens and Sandra Beccari are in a much better position.

How did this happen? “Fans of Pascal Niessens and Sandra Beccari seem to be more loyal. They have an active online community through which their cookbooks and recipes are promoted, a phenomenon less common with famous chefs like Jeroen Meeus. With such a loyal following, it becomes easier for influencers to spread their books.” Multiple a year and sells out. Something less common for traditional cooks.

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Live Healthy by Sandra Beccari / F*ck Granola by Jilly Beckman
Live Healthy by Sandra Beccari / F*ck Granola by Jilly Beckman © RV / Bram Depanst

New era

According to the publisher Isabelle Bones Is it also because we have entered a different era? “Everything is moving faster and happening online. There are fewer cooking shows on TV, but there are more online influencers who are reaching a younger audience. This audience is buying fewer cookbooks, which is one of the reasons why someone who… He has a large online reach that automatically brings good sales numbers for his cookbook.

So today’s publishers mainly believe in a mix of books and other media. “This also applies to big players like Jeroen Meus. “Being on TV and publishing a cookbook is no longer enough,” says Micky Deprez. “There is also a website, an app and soon a detachable calendar from the Daily Cost. All of these channels are being used well, and people are looking for this combination.

Does the paper cookbook still have a future?

If young people buy fewer cookbooks, is there still a future for the paper cookbook? Publishers don’t see it so bleak. “It’s hard to predict, but I still believe in a good book,” says Beausaart van Llano. “It’s so much fun to browse when you’re looking for inspiration and gives you peace of mind while cooking. You don’t have to constantly pause this video.”

In addition to the look, photography and stories, there is another important asset of cookbooks according to Boons van Borgerhoff & Lamberigts: “In a cookbook, you can be confident that the recipes are authentic. The recipes have been double-checked beforehand and are prepared again for the photo shoot. All those eyes Extras ensure the authenticity of what is in the book.For me, a cookbook will never go away.

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Boektopia at Kortrijk Xpo from October 28 to November 5

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