Collectors, as with any other type of collector, often have a special type of cookbook collecting specialization or category that they focus on above all others. If you ask a cookbook collector "What do you collect?" they will almost never just say "cookbooks." Instead they will likely respond with something that fits into a specific category. If you are just getting started with collecting or plan to start soon, a specialization will usually increase the personal reward you get from collecting.


Here are some ideas for specialization--both broad and more targeted. My favorite has always been restaurant cookbooks as they are often somewhat harder to find secondhand. If I've missed any broad categories, please share them here.

  • Cultural or Ethnic Cookbooks (ex. Amish, Jewish, Mennonite, Shaker)
  • Cookbooks from a Specific Region or Country (ex: Asian, Italian, French, Middle Eastern)
  • Signed Cookbooks (ex: Julia Child autographed Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
  • Restaurant Cookbooks (ex: The Colony in New York City, Charlie Trotters in Chicago, Michaels in Santa Monica)
  • Famous or Top Chef Cookbooks (ex: Jamie Oliver, Wolfgang Puck, Julia Child, Chef Paul Prudhomme)
  • Church, Temple & Organization Fundraising Cookbooks (ex: Order of the Eastern Star cookbooks)
  • Community and Junior League Cookbooks (ex: Plantation Cookbook - Junior League New Orleans, Three Rivers Cookbooks)
  • Series or Magazine Cookbooks (ex. Art Culinaire, Cooking Light, Weight Watchers, Taste of Home Annuals, Southern Living)
  • Vintage Cookbooks (ex. Vintage is somewhat undefined but in the cookbook world it is likely 60's and older)
  • Classic Cookbooks (ex. Joy of Cooking, Betty Crocker, Larousse Gastronomique)
  • TV Shows & Books (ex. Little House Cookbook, Alice's Brady Bunch Cookbook)
  • Celebrity Cookbook (ex. Naomi's Home Companion by Naomi Judd, Cooking for You Alone by Johnny Mathis and The Jill St. John Cookbook)