I was on a panel last week (during the Julia Child Food and Wine Festival at Bacara in Santa Barbara, CA) where the moderator showed this slide of the bestselling cookbooks of 2013 in the US, according to Nielsen research. If you haven’t seen it yet, I think you’ll find this chart illuminating.
Here’s what stands out for me:
1. The top book is by a food blogger. That is probably a first.
2. The author, Ree Drummond, had three bestselling books last year, not just one. Not only is Ree’s 2013 book on top, but there were so many sales of her two previous cookbooks that both became bestsellers last year too.
People purchased 670,000 books by Ree Drummond last year, almost twice the sales of her Number 1 best-selling book.
To repeat, Ree’s four-year-old book and her one-year-old book were bestsellers last year. That’s rare. Maybe unheard of.
3. Television comes out on top. Three television personalities wrote six of the top 10 cookbooks. Ina Garten was on top in 2012. Last year she was knocked off by a woman in a reality television show and a food blogger who has a Food Network show. Of course, Garten has a Food Network show too.
5. Two books are about special diets. Wheat Belly advocate a wheat-free diet, and Forks Over Knives advocates a plant-based diet.
6. The minimum sales to get on this list seems to be 100,000 books sold. So if you want to be a bestselling cookbook author, that’s what it takes to get into the top ten.
You could always try for 2014. But first, read this article about who gets to publish a cookbook.
7. Amazon’s list is not the same. Now, for comparison, let’s look at Amazon’s bestselling list from 2013, listing the top cookbooks sold on its site in 2013. It’s different! But notice that the Numbers 1, 3, and 8 are from a television show, and 5 and 6 are related to a television show. America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Illustrated (owned by the same company) is cleaning up with positions 1, 6 and 8.
Numbers 2 and 10 are big food bloggers.
So that’s my take. What are your thoughts about these cookbook bestseller lists?
(Dislosures: Links in this post are to an affiliate program. I was paid in kind to speak on the Bacara panel.)