Since late last year, I’ve been working with my publisher, Ten Speed Press, on an electronic version of Asian Dumplings. Today, I’m happy to say that it’s now available at a virtual bookstore near you!
Initially we thought of presenting a straight-ahead digital conversion of the print book but I suggested that we also incorporate audio and video for what’s called an “enhanced” ebook. No, we did not inflate the stuffed buns to be ginormous.
What we did was add new digital content to further help cooks master key techniques, namely rolling out dumpling wrappers and making the various shapes. A video on wiping the dough for spring roll skins is included too.
When Asian Dumplings was released in 2009, I began posting homemade YouTube videos of some techniques and also filmed a few with CHOW.com. They’re posted at this site but are not handily accessible as a collective group. They are also not as polished as they ought to be.
Additionally, whenever I taught a dumpling class or did a demonstration, what people were super interested in was learning the hand movements. As much as I wordsmith phrases for visual and tactile cues, sometimes people need to observe too. All of those factors made me realize that a digital version of the book should include video.
Enhanced Asian Dumplings features a dozen film clips, one introduction and eleven (11) key techniques. They are placed and linked in the book for you to instantly get dumpling making guidance – maybe even some entertainment too. “Mr. Hands” and I are at your beck and call whenever and wherever you need us. At parties, smackdowns, or in the kitchen with the kids, we’re there.
The enhanced version of Asian Dumplings is like an on-demand mini dumpling class. I unfortunately don’t have enough time to teach classes so the ebook is a nifty workaround. It’s the perfect bridge for folks who want a hands-on cooking class experience. And the extra cool thing is that you can replay!
What was involved in making the videos?
Lots of planning by “Team Dumplings”, which was made up of people at Ten Speed Press, including my fabulous editor Melissa Moore who has worked on many acclaimed books, including Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day, Mark Bitterman’s Salted, and Fanny Gerson’s My Sweet Mexico. (Salted and My Sweet Mexico are up for IACP and Beard awards this year! Go Melissa!)
To complete the team, Creative Director Nancy Austin brought on video director Eric Slatkin, with whom I’d worked with on CHOW.com pieces and my soon-to-be released iPhone app! (More on the app soon.) I brought on stylist Fanny Pan to help with the shoot as I know my limits with getting things on set and looking neat.Melissa and Eric worked with me to refine the script and storyboard that I had proposed. We did a read-through to warm up a few days before the shoot. Nancy and I scouted kitchen spaces belonging to generous friends and colleagues and settled on the loft space that you see in the videos. We shot in one long day, and to get 12 videos done required a tremendous amount of coordination.
For more details on the video shoot, a sneak peek at the ebook, and the low down on how this project came together with Ten Speed Press, check the Q&A I did with The Recipe Club.
[4/20/11 Update: For in industry perspective on converting print cookbooks into ebooks, take a read of Publisher’s Weekly 4/18/11 article, “E-Bells and E-Whistles for Silver Palateand Asian Dumplings“. I must say that it’s great to be mentioned in a story alongside a classic such as Silver Palate.]
Print vs. Digital Books
I love books for their physicality – the paper, sewn binding that make the pages fall open just so, compelling photography that matches the honed text. I love all the bookcases we have in the house filled with new and old publications. When I need to research something, it’s great to pull out a volume and flip the pages.
But digital offers portability and the opportunity to provide new content — audio, video, and slide shows to further enliven the text and empower cooks to dive into the recipes. It’s not a zero sum game as ebooks can supplement and complement their printed kin. For those who are on the go or have limited space to store printed works, ebooks are a great alternative.
Options for eDumplings
When you go to look for the ebook, you’ll see that there’s the regular e-version of Asian Dumplings and the enhanced edition with the audio and video. The enhanced version is available for use on the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Kindle app that goes with those devices.
Understandably, the iTunes bookstore has the enhanced edition whereas Amazon has separate pages for the enhanced and Kindle editions. If you prefer other ebook readers or platforms, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, Google eBookstore, and other ebook retailers are carrying the regular ebook.
I realize that it’s confusing. Hopefully some day there wil be one platform for all ebooks. Check it out and if digital Asian Dumplings becomes part of your kitchen, let me know your thoughts!
New Book Announcement
Now I have to go back to work on the new book, Asian Tofu, which will be published by Ten Speed Press in spring 2012. The manuscript is due in May and Melissa is cracking her editorial whip!
Photos by Nancy Austin of Ten Speed Press