It's time for me to open up. Come out of my shell, if you will.
The subject? Books.
Over the next few weeks, I'll be cooking from some of the recently released cookbooks that teeter on the edge of my desk. I pray I don't get the hiccups or the stack will topple, sending my mouse careening off the mousepad, where, with my luck, it'll hurtle towards the window, shatter the glass, and thunk unceremoniously onto the potted plant in my backyard.
So I need to write about these books.
But first, this disclosure.
My colleagues are other food writers. Some write for newspapers, or magazines, or for the web, and some write cookbooks. As you know, I straddle many of these worlds myself.
When I get wind of a cookbook release, either through an author or a publishing house, I make a decision: does this book sound like something I would like, and if so, is there a possibility I will cook from it and highlight it on my blog? If the answer is yes, I accept the book. If the answer is no, I don't. Rest assured that the Nos outnumber the Yeses by a wide margin.
My favorite publishing houses are those that email me descriptions of new releases so I can opt in to receive them. I hate receiving unsolicited cookbooks because they often cover topics on which I never write (wine & spirits, for example), and they therefore just take up space. Life's too short, and our mutual time is too valuable.
I do know some of the authors of the books I cook from. I meet them at culinary conferences, or via mutual acquaintances. Our professional circles intersect, and sometimes we become friends and send each other snarky emails or happy birthday wishes with lots of exclamation points. It happens. If I like their work, and they offer me a free copy of their book, I'll accept it. If I cook from it with success, I'll blog about it here. If they want to give away a copy to my readers, I'll consider it, and make a case-by-case decision. But very often, I do not pay for these books. Just as film reviewers aren't out of pocket for the films they see, I do not pay for all the books in my collection. There's my disclosure. Some I buy myself; some I accept for free. Some authors I know; many more I do not. Like everything else in this crazy life, it's a mishmash.
So you should assume that if I'm spotlighting a new cookbook, it's because I've made a decision to help a worthy author gain wider exposure. In a world where 95% of bookstore shelves are lined with books by the same 10 people (Sandra Lee, Rachael Ray, Martha Stewart, and so forth), books by lesser known writers like my colleagues and some friends rarely get prominent shelf space or marketing brouhaha. I'm very proud and eager to share those books with you, so long as they're good.
UPDATE: ONE MORE THING. I am a member of Amazon.com's affiliate program, called Amazon Associates. This means that when I link to a cookbook on Amazon, and somebody makes a purchase, I receive a very small percentage in the form of a "referral fee." If you like 5 Second Rule and want to help me keep the site 99% ad-free, please consider making your purchases from my blog. You can buy anything you like (diapers! pet food! slinkies!) and I will still receive a little coinage.