Do you use Eat Your Books?

Over on the Food52 Top 100 thread, peartart put in a plug for Eat Your Books, a service that let's you plug in a few ingredients and get a list of recipes from books that you already have sitting on your shelf. A great idea, but it costs $25/year. Is it worth it?

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susan g
susan g January 10, 2012

I've been using Eat Your Books for over a year, and I'm thrilled -- It has brought back to life cookbooks that were deep in the archeological levels. I have over 400 books, and was feeling that I had lost control. I would sit down with a stack of books, go through indices, looking for something I wanted to make. Now I get a list of all the books I own that have the relevant recipes, with an ingredient list. It also includes blogs (food52 is there) and magazines. The indexed list increases daily.
They have a free trial, I believe, where you can enter 5 of your books to see how it works. Worth trying.
There is a process of entering your books, but I found that was a good opportunity to revisit my books, and do a little sorting out. It has actually helped curb my buying since I can really see what I have now.

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mainecook61
mainecook61 January 10, 2012

I use it, also. If you have a lot of cookbooks, it's perfect. The search engine is good; faster than you can say "roasted fennel," you've got a list of all of the options, including your own cookbooks and any blogs/sites/magazines you'd like to search, including Food52.

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drbabs
drbabs January 10, 2012

I use it, too, and I really like it. I had gone on a cookbook clean-out a few years ago, so I have a pretty manageable number, but Eat Your Books helps me narrow the search to just a few. I love that they are starting to include blogs, too; especially since the Google search engine isn't reliable in that arena.

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susan g
susan g January 10, 2012

good food blog search -- http://foodblogsearch.com/

Greenstuff
Greenstuff January 10, 2012

Okay, I guess I'm going to take the plunge. Like susan g, I have 100s and 100s of cookbooks. Is the best way to add them sitting with a laptop close to the shelves and entering the cookbook names? Or (hoping for a little miracle here), is there something faster?

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JaneEYB
JaneEYB January 10, 2012

Hi Greenstuff - the fastest way if you already have the books cataloged anywhere like Good Reads is to import the ISBNs all at once using Import Books. If they aren't cataloged the next fastest way is to beg, borrow or steal a barcode scanner - then you just click along the barcodes on the back of your books into Import Books. Amazon does sell quite cheap scanners and you can also get apps for your phone.

If neither of those work for you then one quick way is to sort the EYB Library by popularity then filter by whatever shelf you are on. E.g. if you are entering your Italian cookbooks, enter Italian in the filter Ethnicity, you will see all the top Italian books and just click down the blue button +Bookshelf for all the ones you own. Any ones you don't add by this method, you can find by searching by title or author.

You only have to do the book adding once then when it's done you will have thousands of recipes you can search through in seconds. And of course you can add the lovely recipes on Food52 to your Bookshelf as well as the Food52 Cookbook and the Holiday app (we index everything that Food52 produces).

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Greenstuff
Greenstuff January 10, 2012

Thanks! The little miracle I was hoping for! I can see this is going to be a fun project.

JSlocum
JSlocum January 10, 2012

Yes EYB is worth the money! It is a great way to get organized and list your books and where they are stored in your house and then it is easier to find them and use them.

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Voted the Best Reply!

Chris
Chris January 10, 2012

Absolutely! The index in your typical cookbook usually, for lack of a better work, stinks. Sure it’s easy to find a recipe if you already know exactly what you are looking for or if you are searching by main ingredient. But, where EYB really shines is in the ability to search by multiple ingredients. If I had some basil, red onions, and feta cheese I wanted to use up, I can search by all three ingredients. If I wanted, I could also narrow down my options by course, ethnicity, occasion, etc. In this way, I can do a very specific search across a large portion of my cookbooks all at once.

I can’t tell you how many times I used to sit in front of my bookshelves searching in vain for a recipe that fits my needs at a particular time. Since joining EYB, this does not happen anymore. I can plug in a simple search and I can narrow down my choices before I start pulling books off my shelves. If I’m not finding what I’m looking for, then I can browse some of my un-indexed books.

I have 205 cookbooks, plus 1 magazine on my Bookshelf. The percentage of books that are indexed depends on how popular the books you own are and also whether or not you are willing to Member Index the less popular titles (though, the more members that join, I would think certain books would become more popular and therefore, more likely to be indexed). From what I’m hearing, members seem to have on average about 50% of their books indexed. Even if this number were less, this site is hugely helpful.

I feel like every time I turn around, the site is improving and adding more features that make it more and more useful. In addition to books, EYB also has magazines and blogs (including Food52) indexed and members can index their own personal recipes, so you can get all your recipes in one place. You can also create bookmarks to help you keep track of your books and recipes in a way that is helpful to you.

Think of it as the cost of one cookbook a year to help you use all your cookbooks (well almost all). It’s definitely worth it.

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susan g
susan g January 10, 2012

About the indexing process -- I did them all by going along the shelves in 5 different rooms (and the boxes in the garage, the piles in my bedroom, etc).. As I see from Jane above, I could use technology more to speed up the process but I actually found it an interesting process, similar to stroking my 'favorite things.''

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Lambs' Ears and Honey
Lambs' Ears and Honey January 11, 2012

I am a huge fan of Eat Your Books and would heartily recommend it. It makes finding any recipes in your own books so quick and simple that it will give a whole new lease of life to your existing books. I joined up as a life member when it first began and think it was the best money I've spent on my cookbooks.
Just do it!

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Greenstuff
Greenstuff January 14, 2012

An update! Four days later, I have about 400 books on my "bookshelf," about one quarter of which have been "indexed." Even with the fairly low percentage, there's a lot of information for me to play with. I've learned a lot:

Sscanning: For some very new books, you can point at any page, and the scanner recognizes the book! On the other hand, I've been reminded that barcodes are actually somewhat recent.

ISBNs: I'm glad I didn't enter ISBNs for the books that couldn't be scanned, because I was surprised at how often my book had a different ISBN than any that were listed. Better to enter a key word from the title or author.

Books included in the list: I was occasionally surprised by books that were included in the library and occasionally surprised by some that weren't, mostly older books by well-known authors.

As others have pointed out, the great value seems to be in the indexing job done by EYB--much better than the ones in the real books. I'm having a lot of fun!

And another benefit! My book shelves have been dusted!



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