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 the book's companion site, Asiandumplingtips.com, 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 cookbooks, 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 twelve videos done required a tremendous amount of coordination.
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.
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 Palate and Asian Dumplings". I must say that it's great to be mentioned in a story alongside a classic such as Silver Palate.]
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. Nook Color will now work for the enhanced.
[August 2012 update: This is now updated and hopefully more clear for your purchasing needs. Thanks Yuki for helping out!]
- iTunes: regular and the enhanced edition (if you have an iOS device, it's worth it to spend the extra $2 for the enhanced)
- Amazon: regular and enhanced (Amazon's enhanced version can be downloaded to an Apple device)
- Barnes & Noble: regular and enhanced (for Nook Color)
- Google eBookstore: regular only
- Kobo: regular only
There are other places for buying ebooks and I've listed the major ones. I realize that it's confusing. If you want the enhanced ebook, make sure that the image cover on the page that you're buying from has a yellow border that says "Enhanced Edition."
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!
For information on buying the Asian Tofu ebook (released on February 28, 2012), see this page. Into the Vietnamese Kitchen is only sold as a regular ebook.
Thanks for your interest in the frontiers of publishing!