When I started blogging, I published recipes from cookbooks without giving it a second thought. As the months passed, I realized that some bloggers do not do it. This subject is not black and white, actually. A list of ingredients and a method of preparation – basically, a recipe – cannot be copyrighted. For a fun read on the subject, click here. So, in theory, a blogger faces no legal problems by publishing a recipe. But, let’s suppose that someone goes through the hard work of writing a cookbook, and all of a sudden 3/4 of its recipes can be found online because many bloggers cooked from the book and shared the “love”. It may not be illegal, but I don’t think it’s fair. Some authors, one classical example being Dan Lepard, are really adamant about protecting their recipes from spreading out of control. I think one should respect their views. People might reason that in the end they get free publicity. so they should not complain, but since I don’t know how each author feels about it, I rather exercise caution.
For years now I only share recipes from cookbooks if I get the ok from the author. However, it can be frustrating sometimes. The frustration comes in two forms. First, when I get no reply back. Nothing. Silence. And that means I am left with a recipe that cannot be blogged about, at least not the way I like to do it. When I get permission from the author, I often will go the extra mile and write a full review on the cookbook to go along with my post. I do it without any type of compensation, my links to amazon.com do not give me any cash back. Not a criticism to those who monetize their blogs, it is my personal choice not to do it. That brings me to the second type of frustration, which is not getting even a thank you note back. Nothing. Silence. Some authors are amazing, they will contact me by email and be super nice and grateful, but others? Not the case. I swear, it’s annoying. Were they raised by wolves? Are they too full of themselves? Too busy? Heck, I am overly busy too, and in my work I interact with a good share of big egos. Some Nobel laureates are more approachable than certain cookbook authors. Seriously.
So, my point with this post is to inform my readers that I will be starting a new approach, because I now have a long list of recipes from cookbooks waiting to be blogged, and either the authors won’t reply to my attempts to contact them, or in a few isolated cases, their contact info cannot be found anywhere. Yeap, that happens, and I am not a detective, so there is a limit to the time and energy I can spend trying to get to them. In this new approach, you will see the photo of the dish, and my comments. I will include a very general outline of the recipe without precise amounts of ingredients. Once you see this format in a blog post, you’ll understand what is going on “behind the scenes”. But please, don’t assume that an author has been difficult to work with when I post a recipe-less article. It may or may not be the case. I just decided to stop spending time trying to contact authors, and for the most part from now on cookbook recipes will be blogged about in a slightly less traditional way. To be honest, a few things happened in the recent past that left me a bit upset and disappointed at the blogosphere in general. Nothing too serious, but… it was good to share some of my thoughts here, and deal with part of what bothers me.
Note added after publication: I got a few emails of readers in panic that my site is about to change and not include recipes ever again! Not at all the case. Please keep in mind that 90% of my posts for the past 6 years are coming from cooking magazines and websites, so nothing will change dramatically. Every once in a while a post from a cookbook will be published, and in that case the format will be changed accordingly. All cooking magazines I blog from have been contacted and cleared me to publish their recipes, as long as a link is included. Recipes already available online also do not pose a problem. So, don’t worry, the Bewitching will stay pretty much the same. But I needed to get some things out of my mind here. Springtime cleaning, you know…
Now, back to cooking…
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