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Stephanie RichardsonStephanie Richardson
When i was at market last fall, buying inventory for the gift -giving (big-spending) season, i strolled right by the southwest book distributors booth with nary a glance. After all, I don't really sell books. I mean, I keep hearing about the imminent demise of newspapers, magazines and books in hard copy, and the imminent world domination of electronic versions of the written word by eReaders. So who was buying cookbooks - the kind you can touch - anymore? And if you really want a book, aren't you buying it from Amazon? Why would I devote shelf space to a product I didn't think was going to move?
     Then the friend who was with me made me turn around and go back to the book booth. "I had great success selling books in my store," she said. I repeated my many objections. "Trust me," she said. So against every negative gut reaction I was having, her many years of being a successful retailer won out and I ordered a slew of beautiful Southwestern-region cookbooks. I say a slew, because we retailers know that if you're going to sell something new, you better go big.
     I don't think I slept at all that night, but can you guess the end of the story? I sold those books so fast I couldn't keep track of what was going out the door. Customers loved them. Couldn't put them down. They "oohed" and "ahhed" and bought tGardiner the Grillhem in multiples so they could give one and keep one. It was crazy.
     Fortunately, my friend is not the "I told you so" kind of person, but she certainly could have been in this case. I'm still shaking my head.
     So when I was considering a topic for this column, I contacted my pal and barbecue expert, Karen Adler. She is one of the BBQ Queens. She also is a cookbook author and owns Pig Out Publications (pigoutpublications.com) - a company that wholesales and retails more than 300 titles of barbecue cookbooks.
     Turns out she's still pretty excited about cookbooks and mentioned that there are even a few trends coming this year - smoke cooking and vegetarian/vegan cooking. (She and fellow BBQ Queen Judith Fertig are introducing a vegetarian cookbook this year, too.) So if you're thinking about carrying or expanding your line of books this year, here's a quick glance at what's coming in 2012:
► Adventures in Grilling: Cooking with Fire and Smoke by Willie Cooper; due in April.
► America's Best Ribs: Tips and Recipes for Easy, Lip-Smacking, Pull-Off -the-Bone, Pass-the-Sauce, Championship-Quality BBQ Ribs at Home by PhB Davis and Paul Kirk; due in May.
► The Complete Wood Pellet Barbecue Cookbook by Bob Devon; due in March.
► Joy of Smoking And Salt Curing - Complete Guide to Smoking & Curing Meat, Fish, Game by Monte Burch; available now.
► Slow Fire: The Beginner's Guide to Lip- Smacking Barbecue by Ray Lampe; due in April.
► Smoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue by Jeff Phillips; due in May.
► BBQ Manual by Ben Bartlett ; due in April. "BBQ Ben" Bartlett was the first-ever winner of Britain's ‘Best BBQer' title awarded by the National BBQ Association.
► Best Ribs Ever: A Barbecue Bible Cookbook: 100 Killer Recipes by Steven Raichlen; due in April.
► Brother Jimmy's BBQ: More than 100 Recipes for Pork, Beef, Chicken, and the Essential Southern Sides by Josh Lebowitz and Eva Pesantez; due in June.
► The Gardener & the Grill: The Bounty of the Garden Meets the Sizzle of the Grill by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig; due in April.
► Grilling Vegan Style: 125 Fired-Up Recipes to Turn Every Bite into a Backyard BBQ by John E. Schlimm; due in May.
► Weber's Smoke: A Guide to Smoke Cooking for Everyone and Any Grill by Jamie Purviance; due in April. See Purviance's guest column on his book and the smoking trend on page 59.
     Now I'm not telling you to go out and buy yourself a bunch of cookbooks - they may or may not work for your store. But in the barbecue world, they're a great way to create add-on sales, to promote gift -giving, and to help educate your customer. And if it works for you, I may just have to say "I told you so."

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