by Craig Stark

#123, 23 June 2008

A Bookseller's Guide to Betty Crocker
Issue #48

Years ago I recall thinking that it might be possible to make a good part-time income selling nothing but Betty Crocker cookbooks. I'm sure this isn't possible now, given the increased competition and the price erosion of some BC publications, but even today, booksellers who don't know this niche cold are leaving thousands of dollars on the table year-in and year-out.

By "knowing this niche cold" I mean much more than simply knowing that every Betty Crocker's New Picture Cookbook or Betty Crocker's Cookbook (red pie cover) should go home with you. There are at least a dozen additional BC publications that can return $30, $50 and more and many more that can be effectively marketed in lots. Given how utterly common these things are, this could easily mean several hundred dollars a month to a bookseller who spends significant serious time scouting in the field. BCs are everywhere, but estate sales are especially rich sources.

As with any niche, it's important to understand why these cookbooks are collected. There are few more powerful memories of childhood than mom's home cooking, and it's no exaggeration to say that more moms had a BC cookbook in their kitchens than not. Not to get carried away with this psychologically, but it should be noted that nostalgia is in essence a longing to repeat/revisit strong (usually positive) emotions experienced earlier in life - in this case the emotions attending home-cooked meals we enjoyed as children.

Now, the BC titles featured in this issue were for the most part published in the 1950s to 1970s - or 30 to 50 years ago. Add 10 or 15 childhood years onto this, and what are we looking at? Adults in their 40s, 50s and 60s, many of whom have discretionary income that can be targeted at memorabilia. I've been selling BCs on eBay for over ten years now, through recessions and at least one serious national crisis, and the demand for BCs hasn't diminished - and I see no reason for it to anytime soon. This is as solid as it gets.

To learn more, purchase this back issue or a subscription here.

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Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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