During this morning’s panel about cookbook apps at the Roger Smith Cookbook Conference, I spoke about some of the--as Dorie Greenspan put it--“nitty gritty” considerations for authors and agents when exploring app territory (read: financial and contractual implications). I worry, though, that the audience came away with a less hopeful worldview on apps, and that wasn’t our intention--just a realistic look at what is still a growing and evolving market. When we opened the floor to questions from the audience, we were asked, “What’s the point? Where’s the money?” GREAT question, and I wish we’d had more time to answer. So I’m making more time here. What’s the point? Where’s the money? The money is coming! I believe--I hope--that there will be a shift in value from volume (the number of recipes in an app) to the quality of the content in different forms and the functionality. I’m still excited about the new digital platforms emerging every day, and am optimistic--perhaps naively so--that we will see an app revenue model where content is valued for what it’s worth and not the 99c or less philosophy that dominated the AppStore. The next rumored device Apple could be unveiling is the iTV. Imagine now, what this new platform can mean for cookbook content, on demand, and portable between devices. It’s time to cook or bake, and a consumer buys and app to help them do so. They start with the iPhone and their shopping list, turn on the iTV in the kitchen while using the App to cook/bake and helpful videos, and then using the App on the iPad in their friend’s kitchen. The highly-designed print book tastefully arranged on their coffee table. Or a cookbook and App interactive with each other, from the start. An icon in a print book indicates a video supplement in the App, which is itself a digital recreation of the printed book but with more tools and functions. And the print and digital bundled. Will these be a viable models for everyone? No. And it’s not supposed to be. But I love imagining the possible, knowing we’re close to it as reality. So my point today was to not to pursue an App for an App’s sake, but to think about cookbook content across all platforms from the start. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but don’t dive into the pool without some thought. Understand your value--your content, your brand--as a media property, and how you can adapt that content for different mediums. But let your content--your idea, your spark of inspiration that is special and different than what is already out there--be the driving force of what form(s) it takes, and how, and where.
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