Q & A: Michael Ruhlman on Recipe-Based Apps


Writer Michael Ruhlman (Photo by Donna Ruhlman)

Our industry needs writers willing to embrace the digital future of food writing. Michael Ruhlman, an award-winning cookbook author, dove in. He embraced blogging a few years ago and has now has regular income based on it. Next he put out apps on mobile devices based on his books.

As part of a team, Ruhlman created three apps and he’s in development on the fourth. They are:

1. The Ratio app for the iPhone and iPod. At $4.99, Rulman says the app has sold 11,000 copies, and continues to sell at the rate of 50 per week. Apple takes 30 percent off the top. The team of Ruhlman, the developer, and the designer (Leah McCombe) split the rest. The team worked on spec (basically for free) in exchange for royalties. Ruhlman is working on an enhanced Ratio app for the iPad with the developer, Sideways.

2.  The Ratio Android app. Not quite as popular, it sells 1 for every 10 sold on Apple. The same team created it and splits the revenue.

3. The iPad Bread Baking Basics. Itsells for $1.99. The team comprised Ruhlman; his wife Donna Ruhlman, who shot the photos; and the developer, Will Turnage of R/GA.

4. An iPad app based on his forthcoming book, Ruhlman’s 20. Ruhlman is currently in negotiations with Chronicle Books.

Ruhlman spoke to to members of the International Association of Culinary Professionals on a teleforum last week about apps, and I followed up with this interview.

Q. Why did you decide to make an app from your book Ratio?

A. Because the concept lends itself so beautifully to what a smart phone can do. There’s enough people who have [Read more…]