Publisher Profile: Alta Editions produces easy-to-use online cookbooks

Alta overviewWe’re straying a bit from our usual author profile to profile a publisher – Alta Editions. Alta is part of a new wave of publishers that focuses on online publications for computers, tablets, and smart phones. They just published the first volume (The Journey) of an online cooking subscription series which features personal stories and recipes from top chefs such as Katy Sparks, Maneet Chauhan, Alex Raij, and Rita Sodi. They also recently published their first eBook, Laurent Gras’ My Provence

And we’re pleased that we’re able to offer five free one-year subscriptions to their Cooking Series, which includes access to The Journey, the new cookbook editions to be released every other month, as well as My Provence. For full details and to enter, post a link on the give-away blog here.

We asked Chris McBride, one of Alta’s founders, to give us some insights into this new publishing style:


A little over two years ago we set out to create a new kind of publishing company. We knew that the iPad was changing the way people interacted with media at home and we believed there would be a window of opportunity to create highly interactive, custom tailored content for tablets.

My job at the time was to help identify new business ideas for Fox Mobile Group (now Jesta Digital). After doing some market research I pitched the idea for an iPad-focused cookbook series because people were starting to bring tablets into the kitchen and around that time I’d had the good fortune to be introduced to one of the most talented and respected chefs in the world.

Laurent Gras had recently left his Chicago restaurant, L20, after being awarded three Michelin stars and had just moved back to New York City. He’d built a loyal following on his blog for L20 and was interested in creating an innovative digital cookbook. After agreeing on terms and the basic format for the book Laurent and co-author Mitchell Davis began writing, editing and testing recipes and ultimately delivered a set of over 50 expertly crafted dishes that beautifully reflect Laurent’s time growing up and cooking in Provence and the spirit of the region. The result was Laurent Gras: My Provence, our IACP award-winning first release.

I had originally intended for My Provence to be the first book in a series exploring chefs personal cooking journeys in the same vein as the Time Life Foods of the World series did with various regions in the 60’s and 70’s. Little did I know at the time how difficult producing a full length cookbook would be. As someone who’d had no previous experience publishing books I knew that there would be challenges and we would learn a lot in the process, but I didn’t realize quite how much.

We quickly learned that producing a full length cookbook every three to four months would be an enormous undertaking so we decided instead to focus on finding ways to simplify the process both for ourselves and for our chef authors. We decided on a compilation format for our books: each edition would feature four chefs and each chef would share five recipes along with an essay relating to the theme of the edition. We knew that we could do some fun and creative things with edition themes and that by including a diverse selection of chefs we could broaden the appeal of the series and hopefully help introduce readers to new ideas, flavors and cooking techniques.

The result of this effort is our new Alta Editions Cooking Series. Our first edition, The Journey, features recipes from a remarkable group of women chefs. Katy Sparks, Maneet Chauhan, Alex Raij and Rita Sodi each have fascinating stories about how they found success in the food world and their recipes reflect various points in their journeys. Our next edition, The Journey Part Two, will feature four more talented women chefs and continue to explore how each has made food and cooking a central part of how they relate to the world around them.

We originally chose to publish online instead of in iOS, Android, Kindle or ePUB format because on the web we could design books that were open and accessible on all devices-computers, tablets and smartphones – and on all platforms. This means we can take advantage of great features like linking directly to our recipes from Eat Your Books! We were also betting that eventually people would become comfortable with the idea of reading books in a web browser, especially on tablets.

We’ve been lucky to be able to work with such an amazingly talented group of chefs so far and are excited to continue to find creative and engaging chefs to share with our readers. Two years into this project we feel like we’ve made good progress in helping to make cookbooks more accessible, interactive and enjoyable but we know we’re still at an early stage in the transformation of cookbooks from print to digital formats. We hope you’ll pay us a visit on the web and try out some of the great recipes written by our chef authors and join us as we continue to work to push forward the future of cookbooks in the digital age.



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