Food is leading the way for digital innovation in the publishing world. Gourmet Live, a whole new kind of interactive content experience, and Foodpress, WordPress.com’s first foray into niche content aggregation, are cases in point.
Chronicle Books has been publishing art, science, culture, lifestyle, literature, pop culture, food, and travel books since 1968. This year the publisher ventured into the digital world and is trying its hand at the app market. Chronicle initially reached out to me to see if I would be interested in covering their apps. I am actually much more interested in looking at why they choose to begin their foray with food and drinks.
Read my interview with publishing director Lorena Jones to learn more about Chronicle Book’s approach and the apps they have released.
Danielle Gould: Why did you choose to release food and drink apps first?
Lorena Jones: Well as you know, the cooking community is one of the strongest and most active communities online. These consumers are looking for high-quality content and have demonstrated that they’re willing to pay for it. Chronicle is recognized as one of the leading cookbook publishers and the cooking community knows and supports our brand.
DG: What apps have you released and why these specific titles?
LJ: The first five apps have been developed to deliver content that satisfies a need or solves a problem. So far we’ve released:
1. Art of the Slow Cooker iPhone app: Our first app is aimed at people on the go who need entertaining-quality slow cooker recipes. It is based on Andrew Schloss’ popular Art of the Slow Cooker book and includes 30 complete recipes, photos, shopping list functionality and Twitter/Facebook integration to share both your recipes, and finished meals with friends and family.
2. Cheese Plate iPhone app: For cheese and wine lovers who need help putting together good pairings at the store, this app is presented by celebrated food journalist, author, and cheese expert Janet Fletcher. It included 25 themed cheese plates featuring stunning photography and in-depth descriptions, all perfect for entertaining.
Coming up we have an app devoted to authentic Asian cooking, a shopping and recipe resource app for young cooks and a Rick Bayless recipe app featuring Mexican recipes, photos and instructional videos. You can keep track of all of our upcoming food & drink apps right here.
DG: How do the apps help you engage with consumers in a new way?
LJ: The user reviews, social media components, and app-driven traffic to our website, Twitter, and Facebook enable us to develop a direct connection to the consumer so we can better understand their preferences and know what they want us to publish.
DG: What were the greatest challenges with developing the apps?
LJ: I’d pick two: Getting the beautiful fonts to work, and allowing for author changes at the beta-testing stage (and having engineers enter editorial corrections).
DG: Can you give us a preview of what titles we can be expecting to see in the near future?
LJ: Unfortunately we can’t yet share specific titles, but we will be publishing mobile (and tablet) apps across a range of categories: food & drink, entertainment, art & design, and entertainment. This is most definitely just the beginning for us.