By Laura Aiken
Food TV and the various other media dedicated to all things foodie have
been catalysts for the consumer savvy that’s blossomed recently.
Food TV and the various other media dedicated to all things foodie have been catalysts for the consumer savvy that’s blossomed recently. This plethora of food porn has contributed to some of the highest expectation you’ve ever faced as a restaurateur. The immediate medium of the masses, good old television, has likely been the chief instigator through the rise of the Food Network. However, good old books are still known as a mainstay that rouses the influencers.
Books take their imbibers where TV and magazines cannot – really far into the meat of the matter, no food pun intended. It’s probably of value to know what books your customers are reading. The strength of that depth can be revolutionizing for people. The deepest reaching philosophies of humanity were etched on paper, as they continue to be.
So, what are folks studying up on these days? I recently cruised the non-fiction bestseller lists of 2010 for Amazon (Canada), Chapters/Indigo and Barnes and Noble. I didn’t see as many food-related books as I expected, but they were present nonetheless. When it comes to non-fiction food books, the focus of the book buyers seems to be first on weight loss and second on morality. However, this trend may also reflect the sheer number of books written about weight loss in comparison to the few that deal with heavyweight ethics. After perusing the lists in detail, I wondered more about our nation’s relationship insecurities than about their food worries. There were a surprising number of “how to love” books on all the lists. Some human challenges are perennial.
Some of the more interesting titles topping the lists relating to weight loss and diet were: The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss; Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food by Lysa TerKeurst; and notable for pizza, The Carb Lovers Diet: Eat What You Want, Get Slim for Life by Ellen Kunes and Frances Largeman-Roth.
On morality and eating, I found such bestselling titles as Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer; Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth; and The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. I recently finished reading the latter, and give it two thumbs up for being entertaining, enlightening and lacking in dogma.
While I didn’t find Steak by Mark Schatzker on any of the lists I was reviewing, the book has been recommended to me by a few people, and it’s widely publicized by major media outlets.
You’ll find it time well spent to venture down to a bookstore and see what’s popular or being heavily promoted. From there, you can ask yourself if your pizzeria is catering to the food conversation of the day. If you see an abundance of cheese books, perhaps it’s a good time to get experimental with your dairy. With weight loss being so topical, is there a pizza you can offer that fits in with a healthy eating idea that’s hot in the press? There are always trends, and potential opportunities to capitalize on those trends.
A glance at a person’s bookshelf provides some of the most telling insights into his or her values, interests and beliefs. Books are also a great way to foster conversation and shared interests. Perhaps it’s worth considering doing a monthly draw for a book related to some aspect of your pizzeria, whether it be your location, your style of pie or recipes for the home chef. Encouraging a fuller exploration of a subject through books is a great way to help educate your customers and yourself. You may even get some great recommended reads.