Just as you might pay Spotify to access your favorite songs and discover new ones, would you subscribe to a service that gives you access to thousands of classic and modern recipes and serves as a platform to introduce you to new cuisines and meals?
That’s the question 1000 Cookbooks will try to answer with the forthcoming ckbk, a new Spotify-like platform for cookbooks and recipes that will attempt to change how we discover, use and enjoy premium writing about food.
It’s doing this by building an app which compiles a massive database of recipes from well-known and up-and-coming cookbooks. Matthew Cockerill, co-founder of 1000 Cookbooks, polled hundreds of food experts to get their picks for the best, most essential cookbooks ever written.
From there, Cockerill and co-founder, Nadia Arumugam, took on the arduous task of licensing content from these cookbooks. This has been difficult, given the number of literary agents and publishers have been bought by other publishers, leading to a clearance rights morass.
As of now, ckbk has licensed 500 cookbooks, providing access to more than 100,000 recipes from a wide range of popular publications including The Silver Palate, The Cooking of Southwest France, Tyler Florence Family Meal and Weeknight Gluten Free.
These aren’t just PDF versions of recipe pages. The ckbk app will let you search for what you want based on factors such as ingredients, dietary requirements, or specific recipe. Then, just like in Spotify, ckbk will serve up recommendations, allow you to browse its collection of cookbooks, watch videos, and even let you make your own recipe “playlist” that you can share with others.
“Compared to a Google search, ckbk is much richer,” said Cockerill. “You can explore the full chapter in a book, or more from that author.”
While ckbk was announced last week, the actual service won’t be available until May when a Kickstarter campaign will give people the chance to be a founding backer. When it is fully launched, ckbk will have free and premium versions of the service. Cockerill says the free tier will not be ad-supported, and will instead limit the amount and types of content accessible. The premium tier will provide full access and cost “a little bit under $9.99” per month according to Cockerill.
Recipes are certainly experiencing a renaissance as technology transforms them into discovery and commerce platforms. Players like AllRecipes, Fexy Media and BigOven are creating shoppable recipes that let users act quickly on their culinary whims. And other startups such as Innit are creating partnerships that move us closer to customizeable recipe meal kits.
Cockerill says that they are also looking at turning ckbk’s content into shoppable recipes. His team has been adding structure to the data pulled from the cookbooks. “Structure of the ingredient list for integration with shopping carts, or nutrition calculations,” said Cokerill, who said he is always asking “How can we get the most value out of this content?”
And delivering value will be key. In a world where people already have a number of subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Texture, etc etc), potential users will need to feel like they are immediately getting their money’s worth with ckbk. They have to see it as the tool they never knew they needed — which is a tall order. Ckbk must win over passionate foodies who may not want their classic cookbooks in a new format, and simultaneously convince the larger average home cook market to sign up for a monthly subscription.
“We want to build a premium platform that is sustainable for high quality food writing,” said Cockerill. The question now is whether people will pay a premium for it.
If you are interested in the intersection of tech and recipes (and you live in the Seattle area), you’ll want to attend our Spoon Food Tech Meetup on the Future of Recipes on April 25th at Galvanize Seattle.