I love getting my issue of Cook’s Illustrated every 2 months. I find the magazine both useful and fun. That goes for the several cookbooks that I own from Christopher Kimball–The Cook’s Bible, The Kitchen Detective, Baking Illustrated. So you can understand how excited I was to see their latest endeavor at BEA back in June—a huge compendium of over 1200 recipes with tips and charts and color photos called The American’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. My store received our copies today (don’t ask me about their ordering policies either, that’s a whole other story) and I have to say that it is one of the worst packaged books I have ever seen. It’s a 3 ring binder with pages and dividers, which is fine, except that the fucking thing comes unassembled. You get this crappily shrink wrapped binder with the pages and dividers in its own shrink wrapping inside. The problem with the crappy shrink wrap on the outside is that it’s too loose, so the package inside pops holes into it. The whole thing is too fucking stupid. Who would buy this? I was thinking about it, but certainly not after I’ve seen it. And particularly not after having to assemble one (you see, they give you instructions all handily printed on a card that includes one of those annoying subscription cards that fall out of magazines–I fucking hate those, but I digress) for a display copy. Imagine shopping for a cookbook, looking at an array of beautiful spines and you see this one. Imagine pulling it off the shelf and maybe those individually wrapped pages inside finally break loose. Or imagine the damage that will be done to the display copy with the pages undone (rememeber in high school when you yanked too hard on a page and it ripped out of the rings). So America’s Test Kitchen, you might want to think about this the next time you produce a cookbook.
You’re grouchiness makes me grouchy all over again. I used to love Cook’s–and I still refer to my back issues for many favorite recipes–but I let my subscription lapse out of frustration with Chris Kimball’s pompous editorials and a sense, too, that the recipes were getting a little stale or tired. This dopey marketing seems, somehow, connected to something I don’t like about Cook’s–some kind of misplaced New England do-it-yourself-ism. (And I love the Best Recipes cookbook which is a little staid at times but utterly and totally reliable–their apple pie is PERFECT!) So, another book not to buy, clearly… : )
not only everything you mentioned, but the pages themselves are beyond flimsy, so they really WILL pop out at a moment’s notice. I’ve heard a LOT of complaints about this (much like the yellow ink on Gourmet last year), so I’m thinking they will repackage. I’m waiting for that.
How can they not repackage? Maybe lack of sales will give them a clue. Seriously, if you saw this thing on the shelf, you’d move right past it. Not that I don’t give them credit for good recipes. I’ve rarely been disappointed with them, but they don’t seem to know much about book distribution.