It’s a Cookbook, It’s an e-Book, It’s Got Videos — Woman’s Day’s "Cookvook" is Smart Marketing

Last Updated Jan 22, 2010 5:16 PM EST

The e-book revolution is coming --albeit in fits and starts. Woman's Day is the latest to jump on board, introducing The Woman's Day Cookvook: Healthy Food for Everyday Living -- or the "cookvook," for short.

The quirky name makes sense because it's a hybrid e-book -- an electronic recipe collection enhanced with videos-- produced in collaboration with Vook, a California-based multimedia company. Available for download to iPhone, iPod Touch or computer, the Cookvook is priced at $9.99, a going rate for e-books.

The announcement on Woman's Day's Web site practically vibrates with excitement: "Now you can see your favorite recipes in action!" However, Woman's Day senior vp and chief brand officer Carlos Lamadrid admitted to forging ahead without any consumer testing other than Facebook fans' positive comments. In more stable economic times, this would be a risky move for a publication that's been in print for almost 70 years and that reaches around 4 million readers. But today, it is smart marketing on the part of its parent company, Hachette Filipacchi Media, for several reasons.

The readers are mostly middle-class women between 30-50 years of age. There is disposable income to tap among those ranks.

Busy women juggling children and careers will pay for convenience. Their introduction points out the ease of having the recipes with ingredient lists on your phone as you shop.

Not forgetting the frugal, Woman's Day also notes the download price is roughly $7 less than the average retail price of a traditional cookbook -- plus it offers the "added benefit of friendly demonstrations!"

Speaking of demonstrations, a preview of the Cookvook is available online. It's limited to a brief montage video and a scroll through listing of the chapter contents that makes it hard to tell what you'd really be getting after plunking down your sawbuck. But one thing that stuck out for me was the use of Swanson's Chicken Broth. Such product placement may give way to advertising opportunities which Lamadrid did say were already in the works.

However, marketing is only part of the equation.

Jennifer Perillo, a recipe developer and food editor who falls within Woman's Day's target demographic, agrees that the concept is a good way to navigate uncertain times in publishing. But she told me, she's not sure about the price, or the ease of use.

"If I'm researching recipes or looking for inspiration online, I'd sooner go to fellow bloggers or do a quick search on Epicurious," says Perillo. She also argues that reading cooking methods or watching them on a small screen isn't particularly helpful, and notes that the cookvook doesn't have any margins for scribbled notes like an actual printed cookbook would.

It's also worth noting that Woman's Day recipes have been available via another iPhone app since last October. The Cooking Assistant has shopping lists, a spice dictionary, cooking time calculator, vegetable preparation guide, and other features. Perhaps most important, it's free.