Saturday, September 13, 2008

Copyrights and our Gluten-Free Recipes Book

I apologize in advance for what is undoubtedly to be an uncharacteristic discourse (or rant) for me...

I knew this would happen eventually - blatant copyright violations. Some people think that others' hard work should be FREE to them, and free to everyone. They themselves won't work for free, but expect the work product of others to be free and have no problem even claiming others' work as their own.

After just finding multiple recipes from our Gluten-Free and Wheat-Free Gourmet Desserts book posted on the web and blatantly copied right from our book, I am nothing short of very upset. Copyrights mean nothing to some people it seems - which is perhaps why Hollywood and the Recording Industry keep suing people who copy their content on the web.

And, if copyright violation alone were not enough, one particular offender even claimed the recipes were her own creation! I'm sorry, I think NOT! My wife and I worked very hard, and spent years and many, many hours baking countless iterations of our recipes to get them right, and worked on them even to the point where some of our gluten-free cakes won baking contests (against "real" cakes). And now, I have others claiming our work as their own. It hurts. It really does.

We innovated, and poured our passion for excellent desserts into creating these recipes after I discovered I can not eat gluten. I refused to eat desserts that didn't taste like "the real thing" to me. So, after trying other recipes without success (in reaching that "real" status), we went against nearly all accepted "norms" for gluten-free baking at the time when we produced the recipes for our gluten-free desserts book, by first of all removing all *gums* from the recipes. This was almost unheard of prior to our book. We then broke out of the potato-starch and bean-starch mold, decided not to use "flour mixes", and instead treated recipes like any other non-gluten-free recipe (where each recipe uses a custom forumulation of ingredients).

We made use of Sweet Rice, sorghum, amaranth, and even some buckwheat in a few recipes -- things that now seem quite common, perhaps in part due to our contribution to gluten-free baking. We tested the recipes on non-gluten-free people, and entered baking contests with them. We created a book to make these recipes available to other Celiac Disease sufferers and gluten-free and wheat-free individuals, and tried to keep it affordable (especially given that it is full-color throughout, and we only can afford to print a couple thousand books at a time).

We have received many Emails since the release of our Gluten-free desserts book stating how much people appreciate the quality of the recipes and the color photography in the book, and I now have a waiting list for our "next book", which was to be the Gluten-Free Biscotti and Scones book. But, fact is, when people simply post the recipes from our existing book on the web for all others to use freely without purchasing our book, our dessert book sales grind to a near halt. Thus, what is our incentive to create any MORE recipes when our existing ones are being copied without any compensation to us? I had even planned to give the next book away (as an "E-Book") to anyone who purchased our Desserts book. But, why bother? It'll just get posted on the web somewhere, so I might as well post it myself, or better yet, given my current state of mind, I should just stop working on it.

We laid out a fair amount of our own money to produce and print our gluten-free recipe book - not some big "corporation, but WE personally. We have yet to break even on this investment, and with our recipes being copied freely now, we may never do so. We invested our time, money, and determination to "get it right". We sell the books directly, so we know exactly who has and has not purchased them for 90%+ of the books out there, and that makes it even tougher when I see the recipes posted by people that never purchased our book. This makes me wonder how widespread the copying problem is!

I don't know why some people apparently have no problem affecting the livelihood of those that work hard to create great recipes and copyrighted content. And, I now direct these next bullet points at only those that think it fine to post our recipes and copyrighted material online in violation of the DMCA and other existing laws...
  • What price for our book, other than FREE, would be low enough that you would purchase it instead of copying it?
  • Do YOU work for free?
  • Can I copy YOUR work or steal your assets you worked hard to create, without you gettting upset?
  • Is it not enough I post various free recipes on this blog and on my recipe-library page?
  • Do you know some good lawyers? I sure hope so, because I do, and my close friend from college is one that just loves helping me out with various "issues".
I am usually upbeat and try to be helpful to the entire gluten-free community, but at the moment I am distraught and in jeopardy of losing interest in posting information helpful to the Celiac and Gluten-Free community. But, I realize that many of my readers DO value the recipes my wife and I create, and the information we share on this blog, and I would be punishing those not responsible for the copyright issues if I was to just quit my blog and all of this gluten-free writing.

Perhaps my biggest mistake was thinking that problems like this would not diminish our efforts. But, such is. The world is now a different place than when I was young, and the lessons my parents and grandparents taught me about respecting the work of others is no longer a universal concept - especially when it is so easy for some exploit the Internet for purposes to the contrary.

So, I am in one really screwy state of mind right now, and am on the edge of saying to heck with it all. What can I do? I could start selling my book on Amazon or Borders or such just to get more exposure, but how does that avoid the problem? Sure, Amazon will discount it considerable. Is that all I need to do? Will that stop people from copying the content? Sadly, I fear it would make little difference aside from me selling more books at lower margin (break-even if I was lucky). Or, perhaps I should just sell the full rights to my books and let some big publisher or corporation deal with those who copy content -- ANY PUBLISHERS LISTENING OR READING THIS?... , now is your chance, while my mental state is "off".

Well, another option that I am considering is a simple one: no more printed copies of the book. Those of you with printed copies of my Gluten-Free and Wheat-Free Gourmet Desserts book may end up with collectors' items as the book goes out of print when I sell the last of my current inventory. I can not afford the risk of printing thousands of books to have them sit here as the recipes in the book are posted on the web by those who have no problem with such actions.

Now, to all of you that have purchased our book and have resisted the urge to post the recipes and baking instructions all over the web, THANK YOU!!

And, I realize that even with a money-back guarantee on our book, you all had to "take a chance" with an unknown and find out for yourself that our recipes are really wonderful and are as close to the "real" desserts as any can be. Perhaps if we didn't completely suck at marketing, we'd be out there on the television shows, radio, or whatever, getting the word about our recipes and our book around. But, neither my wife nor I is interested in doing so, and as such, it is just word of mouth we will continue to rely on. So, THANK YOU to all who have spread the word about our book too, while not just copying content!

Finally, in an effort to encourage purchase instead of outright theft via copying, I am considering dropping the price of the book down to where perhaps more will just buy it. I know such a move is in essence, irreversible, like selling through Amazon would be (they would instantly mark the book for 1/2 off). If dropping the price considerably would stop the copying, I would perhaps do so. But, if I do that, my current inventory of (printed) books will be the last - at least the last that *I* have printed, as it will be a money-losing proposition.

Anyone have thoughts on this they want to share? I welcome the input.

If you are interested in buying the book, please, don't order it without telling me what you think is a reasonable price first. I currently list the book for $29.95 + Shipping ($4.50 in USA). If that is, in your opinion, just too much to bear given high gas prices or anything else, just contact me.

Tell me what you think is reasonable, and/or what will prevent people from just copying the book contents on the web. I will give you a coupon-code to use towards a book purchase for your trouble, and with luck, I'll come out knowing whether I can do anything to minimize the copyright infringement activities through pricing / other changes.

Thank you. :)


Gaile said...

Mike - I am sorry to hear you're experiencing this. I know many people have had this happen, whether they are cooks aor knitters or photographers. it's an unfortunate part of the internet. i think your book is fairly priced, and don't think dropping the price point will stop piracy or copyright infringement. From what I understand, the thing to do is first confront the offender directly, in their comments or via email, and ask them to remove all of your content from their blog. If they've stolen from you, they've stolen from others, so the second step is to post a link to their site if you have any reason to believe any of their other content is uncredited. And third, when you do confront them, remind them there are legal actions you can take, since your book and it's contents are copyrighted. I hope this helps. As one who got your book in the scratch and dent sale, I know how good it is, how beautiful it is, and how good the recipes are. Next time I make something from it, I will take a photo and post the pic on my blog, with a link back to your site for people to buy the book. I would encourage everyone else who's bought it to do the same. That alone should drum up more legitimate sales for you. Best wishes,

Dana said...

I am so, so sorry to read this.

Today, for the very first time, I made a cookie of my own creation (based on reading up on other recipes, yes, but this was MINE) that actually tasted like the real thing - to me and to my friends and family. I can count it among the top things I've ever been proud of.

And you've created a whole book of them. And then some. And then to find it not just taken, not just copied, but and attributed to someone else? That's just...wrong.

I'm sorry, truly sorry, and I hope tomorrow will bring a little more calmness and clarity to the situation for you. Thank you for all you do for the celiac / gluten free community.

Mike Eberhart said...

Thanks for your wonderful feedback. One thing I didn't mention was how the copied material was not just on a blog, but on a larger RECIPE WEB SITE, which makes the problem a bit larger (arghh!). I have already contacted the recipe web site owners and sent a message to the person who posted the material (though, given their chosen pseudonym, I'm not expecting much) -- both have been reminded of the legal ramifications.

I appreciate all your input. Thank you!

Congrats on your new recipe! Isn't it just a great feeling when a new recipe comes out wonderful? I especially get a thrill out of it when we pull off an "impossible" recipe in a gluten-free form.

Today has brought some calm and clarity, as I have had a chance to sit back and assess the situation. I will remain positive, and remind myself that MOST people are good people, and that I can not let the actions of a very very small segment of people affect my desire to help others with Celiac Disease and their gluten-free diet. Thanks for stopping by and helping calm me :)

Sarah said...

Im so sorry for all you've been going through. My opinion is not that people want to put your recipes out so others don't have to purchase the book, but to make themselves look good to others. They stick it on their blog with no reference to the author/creator of the recipe, and people simply assume that the blog owner is brilliant.

Mike Eberhart said...

You are perhaps right. One offending person posted to a large recipe web site (blatant copy our recipes and instructions) and called herself an "intermediate cook" and went on about she "found" this recipe she was going to post, and then after posting the recipe, it became "her recipe", and she talked about how it was the best ever, etc., as people commented on the quality of the work.

That emboldened her to post another "really good recipe" she had, which again just so happened to be from our cookbook. She obviously loves the attention from those telling her how great "her" recipes are. I hope she likes the attention, that if recipes are not removed, will come in legal form. heh.

Thanks for stopping by! I am finding this feedback all quite therapeutic. And, with luck, I will maintain my full desire to help others with their gluten-free diets, despite the negative experience of the moment. Time will tell.

Lynn Barry said...

My heart goes out to you, Mike. I remember when I saw that lovely loaf recipe I made up appeared on another blog, claiming it their own I was bummed but I got over your case you labored over a beautiful cookbook that is first rate in all categories and to have someone claim the recipes their own is despicable and should be addressed legally if you are up to it. I am sickened to read this about you and your wife, a couple so hardworking and responsible and devoted to helping others eat right and well...well, like I said...time to take legal action...GOOD LUCK! I am rooting for you!

Mike Eberhart said...

Thanks for the kind words, and I keep in mind how you too are an author and make your living from your novels and such. You are right: we should definitely consider legal action.

I remember your "lovely loaf" recipe and how much work you did on that. And, yes, you deserve credit if someone else is to use it. When it comes to the recipes and content we give away for free on this blog and our online recipe library, credit is all we ask for. When it comes to the book content that we sell as part of our livelihood, it is just plain copyright infringement when someone copies and posts the recipes and instructions, as we have not donated that content to the world for free.

Thanks for rooting for us Lynn... we appreciate it. Hopefully this does not become a larger problem over the long-term. There may come a time where I actually open-source or public-domain more recipes, like those finished and/or planned for the Biscotti and Scones book, but I'm not 100% there yet, especially given my current mindset.

ByTheBay said...

i sympathize - I have had both my recipes and my photographs stolen and reposted on blogs. It is one thing for someone to innocently repost my recipe because they like it and want to share it and aren't well-versed in blog etiquette enough to realize that printing it in full without my permission is a copyright violation and rude. It's another thing when people have claimed my recipes as their own, said they created them, or claimed to have taken the photographs they stole from my blog. I have my blog's copyright status clearly posted on the sidebar. The way I deal with these situations is I confront the person directly with a strongly worded e-mail asking them to remove the work. If necessary I follow that up by threatening legal action, and by contacting their blog host (Blogspot, etc) because most have copyright policies. It's been pretty effective. I've even managed to get large recipe sites to remove my recipes from their databases. For small bloggers who were well intentioned, I ask them to post a link to my blog and to credit me clearly. I also ask for my recipes to never be reprinted in their entirety. But what's most important to me is CREDIT. If someone isn't claiming my recipes as their own, and is providing a link to my site, I don't feel so much hostility. I'm trying to accept that some of this is unavoidable. It does sometimes make me want to stop blogging. Imitation is a form of flattery. But it's also illegal and freakin' frustrating.

I think you're right to be alarmed and offended... but to be honest, it's unlikely that a few people reposting your recipes will impact your book sales. I doubt it's impacted my blog visits, ad revenue, etc.

I do think the book is very expensive (too expensive for me and for most people I know who are suffering in this economic slump), but I think that is reasonable because it's self-published. You put your own money into it and made a point of having a "grassroots" approach which is really different than the distant, corporate approach taken by authors who are published by large publishing companies. That's why you have friends all over the blogosphere and get e-mails telling you how great your books are! So take action when someone is ripping you off, but rest assured you're hardly the first cookbook author to experience this, and people continue to buy cookbooks. i hope you'll confront the offenders directly. Maybe it will make them think twice before doing it again to someone else.

All my best to you and your wife.

Mike Eberhart said...


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your insight and experience. Sounds like you have been through a few situations that required attention! I am most definitely with you on the blog-content thing: credit should be given by way of at a bare-minimum, a hyperlink to the original source that makes it quite clear where the content originated. You have a very nice blog, and you deserve credit for all that great work you do on recipes and other articles.

Re: the book price. Yes, at $29.95, it is somewhat at the "upper end" of gluten-free cookbooks out there. But, it is also a rather hefty full-size (8.5x11inch) full-color book that weighs a full kilo thanks to the heavy glossy paper we used and the professional binding and all. When it first hit the market, we were the ONLY full-color-photos throughout gluten-free recipe book on the market. And, at last check, we may *still* be (some have photos of *most* recipes, but I have yet to see one with full-page photos of each). But, I have also seen more than a few recipe books of similar stature selling at or above the price we ask. So much to consider...

Sure, if it was in Borders or Amazon, you'd find it for less, as they sell everything for a substantial discount to "list". I just want to recoup my investment. I had quotes from printing companies here (in Ohio) that wanted nearly $25/book to print, bind, and ship them to me -- and, I knew $29.95 was about the most people would pay. It became obvious this wasn't going to be a "get rich" kind of book to say the least. In the end, I managed to get the professional printing costs down some, but it'll be really rough to hit those Amazon-type prices in the quantities I'm printing. And, I'm just not willing to risk printing 25,000 copies at a time to chop the price down... not to mention, I have no clue where I would keep them all! eek! :)

I realize we're certainly not the first authors to have their work posted online by copyright violators. In fact, I have seen plenty - some go as far as to say "hey, I copied this from xyz book". Unreal. And, sad.

And, I realize the economic downturn makes the book's price perhaps a bit rough, but then I get feedback from people telling me it is fairly priced (and some coached me saying it was priced to low -- in fact, I know a couple doctor offices reselling my book for more to their patients). So, I'm trying to get a feel for the "average" price thoughts from people, and I will take this into account and will try to appease more people if I can. I have done some short-term sales in the past... perhaps I will lower the list price some all the time.

As for whether this has affected my sales, well... coincidence or not, I saw a downward sales trend starting at about the same time the offending copied recipes showed up online (since, I can see the posting-date of the offending copied recipes, I know when they were put online). I'm sure gas prices also have something to do with sales too - as I have written about how I see sales slow when gas goes up. And, I know there is economic uncertainty abound: I actually write a financial and investing blog too, and have made my thoughts on the current economic mess known (i.e., it is BAD).

Bay, thanks again for the feedback. I greatly appreciate the support from others in the gluten-free blogosphere like yourself. This is all quite valuable input and I am weighing it all and contemplating various options. Take care.

David said...

a) I bought a second from you and still can't figure out the problem with it, so I clearly got the best deal.

b) I think that <$20 might be the magical price point to get people to buy and not steal, but people are impossible to figure out.

Mike Eberhart said...

First of all: THANK YOU for the purchases. I just wish you would have emailed me, as I promised to give coupons to people for their opinions if they wanted one. Thanks.

Yes, you may be right about the sub-20 price point. Now, given that I sell in online, is that sub-20 *with* or *without* shipping? If without, I may be able to get there eventually. If with shipping, that'll be rough - and certainly something that would have to be only USA addresses.

Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it. m

Erin S. said...

Mike, I am really sorry to hear about this situation. I know you pour your heart into your books and your blog and it is unfortunate that someone needs to claim your content as their own. I am sure you will continue to have loyal fans and that your future books will be just as helpful and delicious for the gluten-free community as they always have been. Hang in there!

Kate said...

Dear Mike -
I'm so incredibly disheartened for you! I'm shocked by the blatant disregard for effort, time and the love it takes. I think my horror stems from the absolute gall it takes to claim such work as one's own when it so very clearly is not. I know people sometimes post and list the resource- maybe even hoping it will help promote future sales. It's obvious from your post that this is just not the case.

What would be more interesting is if you had a customer list and this person's name were on it. What a sweet post/image upload that might be.

Sorry.... the snarky side of me just had to let that out a bit.

ByTheBay said...

I think you point out something critical regarding the way that companies like Walmart and Amazon groom us to expect unreasonably low prices... and at what cost? Less money to the artists/authors/producers/small businesses. More worker exploitation. Lower quality. Etc, etc. This is part of why 29.95 sounds like a lot for a cookbook to me, yet why it's not really unreasonable given the work you put into it. I've come to expect to pay rock bottom prices for books. This is why when I can afford it (now is not one of those times as I'm a full-time student for the first time in years and not working much at all) I buy full-priced books from local bookstores.

Anonymous said...

I'm a new reader, but have been reading food blogs and participating in "foodie" communities for a few years now. Just realized I was gluten-intolerant, getting tested to find out if it's celiac or what.

Anyway, from what I've seen, I don't think most people are intentionally "stealing" when they repost recipes. I myself have occasionally posted recipes (in response to queries in cooking communities), not to make myself look good, but to help out my fellow community members, or to share my enthusiasm for a certain recipe. Good recipes are especially exciting to people on a restricted diet, since we have less to work with. I always cite the cookbook, though.

I do think you can make this work for you. I know if I saw a recipe on a food blog that turned out really well, I would be a lot more likely to buy the book it came from. Perhaps you could make it clear to people that you appreciate them promoting your recipes, and you would appreciate it even more if they linked to the site where people can buy the book? And then if people refuse to comply, that's when you get scary with the lawyers.

HeatherHH said...

I bought your cookbook during the scratch and dent sale. I have been impressed with the quality of the pictures. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to try many recipes. Until recently, I was having real issues tolerating dairy. I had expected there to be quite a few recipes where I could just substitute rice milk for milk, and instead I found a lot of cream cheese and sour cream, which I couldn't eat. I'm having only minor issues now, so I hope to pull this cookbook out and try some more recipes, as they really do look good.

However, I would never ever ever have bought this cookbook for $29.95 plus shipping. I might have spent $19.95 plus shipping if I had tried a couple recipes on the site and really liked them, and read through the testimonials. More likely, I'd have asked for it as a gift as I'd be reluctant to spend over $20 total on a cookbook that I can't read a plethora of reviews on. One plus about the sites like Amazon is that there are all the reviews, and you can know that the negative ones are "allowed," whereas you don't have that guarantee with a personal website.

I might be willing to pay more with testimonials and sample recipes available if I were a "must-follow-a-recipe-exactly" type of person. But I'm not. I fiddle and adapt. I've learned with xanthan gum and other flours to produce pecan pear bread and raspberry muffins using my gluten-containing recipes, and I do this with many other things as well. So, I'm never likely to pay much for a cookbook, because I can take free recipes and adapt them.

Mike Eberhart said...

Yes, we have all been conditioned to expect unreasonably low prices in books in general. Big corporations tend to dominate this field, and print 100,000 to 1million++ copies per run, and get the per-copy price to nothing by also printing in the cheapest location they can.

And, another thing I see a LOT is "big name" brands reusing and repackaging the same old content, just "remixed" or perhaps a few little updated paragraphs, pictures, etc, and labeling it a new book completely (not even just an Edition bump, but whole new book). This is what keeps prices down... lack of innovation and new content.

Needless to say, my wife and I had to create ALL the content for our book from scratch, and that takes a ton of time. Now, if we followed the big corporate content-reuse model, we'd repackage the recipes from the desserts book, along with some gluten-free bread recipes, a few more biscotti and scone recipes, and call it "Comfort Foods volume 1". Sure, this would keep our time down if we just reused 1/2 or more of our original content. And, this is what so many big-name titles do anymore... very little NEW content.

Again, thanks for the feedback Bay, I appreciate it!

Thanks for the vote of confidence, and for stopping by. Seems like just yesterday we met you at the Long Island Celiac convention, but I realize that is over a year ago! Hope all is going well for you.

I agree in *part* with you about how recipes being posted (with proper credit) could perhaps help with book sales, but I also see the flip side where people very much expect to not buy books these days because "everything is online for free". If you want to see the impact on the major booksellers, just check out the stock charts of Borders (slid from $25 to $7 over past couple years), Barnes ($45 to $20 in same), etc. Amazon bucks the trend by selling *much* more than just books and music.

I have had some people post variations of a couple recipes, after being kind enough to ask if I minded, and putting clear citations and links to my book. That has worked well, but again, if everyone did that and posted a few recipes, soon the entire book is online. And, there are also a few recipes that I really didn't want posted around because they are strong-demand recipes for our award-winning cakes, and those have created significant interest in the book. If those are "free" online (especially via blatant copyright violation), again I will find myself with quite diminished sales.

From what I can tell, my customer-list did *not* include the particular offender. Since 90% of my sales are direct, I know who has purchased most books. So, wherever they got it appears to be not from me directly. Funny thing (regarding your offender picture-posting comment), the person DID have their photo online with the recipe. I don't want to use it though (it may feed their ego or something); I just want the situation resolved.

Mike Eberhart said...

Thanks for you honest feedback. I'm glad you like the book, and you did get quite a deal with the scratch-n-dent pricing I was doing.

I understand there is a substantial group that will be hesitant to spend the $29.95, though I argue that it would make little difference if I had more testimonials online or anything like that. Fact is, I offer something nobody else does: a money-back satisfaction-guarantee on a gluten-free recipe book. God knows if I could have had that with some other recipe books I purchased in the past, I would have returned some. We put that guarantee out there to try to make people more confident in buying the book without it being something familiar to them.

By the way, I have not "filtered out" or "disallowed" ANY review of the book. In fact, I have only had ONE book return - EVER under our guarantee - and this was by someone that sent the book back without ever using it, right after New Years this year, because they decided for their New Years' resolution they were not eating desserts.

As I mentioned before, I *could* sell this on Amazon, if I was willing to not make a dime. Amazon takes a HUGE cut (55%+) off the top, and you (the author/publisher) must agree to their terms, which state that you relinquish all right to set pricing, etc. Thus, their entire model is this: take the book, mark it 40-50% off the first day (without even seeing if it sells), and from then on all pricing-power is lost forever. Forget it. I'm not going to do that. I'll sell direct at a reduced price first, and not be forced into such contracts and forced to ship my books to Amazon for them to then ship out.

As I said, I noted your feedback in that you find pricing too high. And, I have noted the feedback of others that say it is just fine - and, I have more testimonials (including Emails I haven't published on here yet) to that side of the equation than to the need to price lower. I don't know what to do.

I expect I am next going to do a "survey" with the Blogger sidebar thing and have people give me a wide-ranging feedback on price points and all. Thanks for your input.

Mike Eberhart said...

One more thing I forgot -- regarding the sour cream and cream cheese... I plan to post some alternatives that are dairy-free for some recipes. Do you have a particular recipe you first want me to address? I have been playing with Chia-Seed for this, and it works well if done right. Also, depending one what dairy-issues you have, if isolated whey protein (casein-free) is OK, that can come in handy too.

Mike Eberhart said...

I meant to also address your sentence about where you suggested how there should be "free recipes" from the book for evaluation....

Well, that is essentially the entire purpose of this Gluten-Free Blog. We regularly post recipes on here for free. They should definitely give a feel for the quality of our work, to anyone interested in our cookbook.

And, in addition, we have more recipes to demonstrate our abilities (FREE recipes - anyone can try prior to buying a book) on our FREE Gluten-Free Recipes Library.

So, for anyone interested in getting a sampling of our gluten-free recipes (though not our *commercial* ones sold in the book), check out those. And, if you like them, you'll surely like the ones in the book, as Gluten-Free Desserts are our forte'.

I had another thought about the book *price* go through my head, and thinking about how you paid a total of $13.45 (including shipping) for that "scratch-n-dent" book that had nothing more than a slightly bent corner.

And, I think how, when I go to Whole Foods Market or my local health-food store, I see pre-baked cupcakes there for prices like 4 for $8.95, and cookies for $2.00 or more each. And, I can't help thinking: I know my desserts are better (by far) than nearly all pre-made store-bought gluten-free desserts on the market (and, I have to typically confirm this out by "evaluating" any such products only through *purchase*, and there is no money-back-guarantee on all the gluten-free food products on the market that I have tried that easily will exceed the cost of our book in no time).

I don't want to be TOO much of a complainer, but I can't help thinking there is perhaps a double-standard for what Celiacs are willing to pay: one amount for pre-made gluten-free products, and another for cookbooks that teach people how to make great gluten-free foods on their own and save a ton of money over pre-packaged foods.

Perhaps this is another discussion, but I think everyone can agree that pre-made gluten-free foods are:
1) quite expensive relative to other foods, and,
2) quite often suffer from quality issues that you will pay for just to try to get something that reminds you of "normal" foods, and when its not, well, you are just out of luck.

So, when I look at things in terms of comparison to pre-made gluten-free desserts (or products in general), and know that purchasing one pre-made whole gluten-free cake will cost as much as my book, I can't help thinking the price isn't that unrealistic for the book. But, my planned survey may help decide all this :)

Clara said...

I'm really sorry to read this. There is no excuse for this and it is absolutely unacceptable.

Having only been diagnosed last February, I'm still doing a lot of experimenting and came across your website while looking for a recipe for a bread using buckwheat. I tried the free one that you have listed and LOVE it - by far the most normal tasting loaf I've had since February. I posted a link to the recipe and your blog it on my blog - a link, not retyped - giving you FULL credit (I was only trying to "spread the word" of your wonderful recipes, but will totally take it down if you would prefer).

Anyway, regarding the price, based on your description (full color, quality pictures, 8.5x11) I'm sure that your book is worth the asking price. It does seem in-line with other books of similar quality. Having said that, I have not purchased your book yet and I'll share with you why, maybe giving you some insight. 1) I have several intolerances - not just gluten. I also have a problem with dairy (all dairy - not just lactose or casein) as well as soy, yeast, walnuts and pork. Because I have so many intolerances, I rarely find a recipe that I can use as-is without some variations. Depending on what the recipe calls for, I don't always have a suitable substitute (like cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream). I wouldn't feel comfortable buying a book sight unseen without knowing how many recipes I'll actually be able to use. 2) With the economy being the way it is, it's just hard to justify non-necessary expenses. Money is tight, and it's made even tighter by having to convert my kitchen. Like I said, I was only recently diagnosed, so I'm still converting my pantry/kitchen. Plus, since I didn't do "real cooking" before, I needed a lot of new supplies. I haven't bought *any* cooking books for this reason - just pure lack of money. I won one from someone else's blog, I search the internet for free recipes on blogs, and check out some books from my local library (Which thankfully has a couple gluten free ones).

Those are just my personal reasons for not having purchased your book yet - but, I'm not at all saying that it makes it okay for someone to reprint one of YOUR recipes without your permission and certainly not to take credit for it!

I did want to suggest one approach - offering a discounted price or donating your book to libraries that may want to add your book to their collection? I don't know if that would stop people from posting your recipes online, but maybe it would help people see just how nice your book is without buying right away?

Anyway, just my random thoughts, I hope they help a little!

Mike Eberhart said...

Thanks for that detailed insight, I appreciate it. I sure feel for you with all those overlapping allergies. That does certainly make things rough when it comes to finding foods and recipes. I am quite happy to hear that our buckwheat bread recipe worked out well for you too. I really hope to adapt more recipes to be as "allergen free" as possible. It's tough though, as I get emails all the time with yet another allergy someone has, and in the end, the only ingredient left that is "safe" for everyone would be water :)

We didn't use any soy in the book, especially because it is a common allergen. There is dairy in various recipes though. Some are dairy free - I remember enumerating them for someone once - but quite a few use butter and other milk products. Again, I just need time to get to adapting more recipes.

Thanks for the detailed thoughts about the book price and all. And, regarding libraries, I have actually sold some to a few libraries around the country. Got me how much local demand there is, but there must be enough gluten-free/celiac demand to warrant libraries purchasing them. I had intended to donate any returned books to libraries, but I have only had ONE in the past 2 years, so my donations have been limited. I probably also need to get off my lazy duff and start marketing to more retail locations around the USA so people can pick up a copy, leaf through it, and see what the book and the recipes are like. I have rather good presence around Ohio, but not much outside of the State for lack of my desire to do phone calls and marketing. (yes, I *hate* making sales calls. he he he).

Again, appreciate the input, as this is all leading me to understanding my target audience and market. m

Anonymous said...

Good rant. I can't stand theft either.

I don't think it's too expensive. In fact, I just ordered one.

Can't wait to taste some of your delicious desserts.

Mike Eberhart said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the rant :) And, thank you for the vote of confidence on the book price and for ordering one. We appreciate it, and be sure to ask questions if you have any when baking... we try our best to answer anything including ideas on where to locate ingredients, and even suggestions as to which recipe you may want to try first depending on your personal likes (e.g., chocolate, cake, cookies, etc.). Hope you enjoy the book! m

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response. to which recipe you may want to try first depending on your personal likes...

There was a word in the title that pretty much covered that:


I've always had a sweet tooth. Actually, I have a mouth full of them.

Can't wait!

I appreciate your willingness to help other sufferers. I'll let you know how our first couple of desserts turn out. I think my sister may need a late birthday present. There may be another book order in the near future.

Vittoria said...


I love reading your posts and perusing your recipes. I am not currently in a position to purchase (or use) your book right now, but I fully believing in citing sources for baking success. Maybe four years of art history taught me something useful after all. Your recipes are your own and anyone who wants to post about one of your baked goods should be able to do so, but they should give you credit and include a link to your site or the place where the book can be purchased. Best of luck figuring this out.


Yasmine Galenorn said...

I'm sorry about your experience. I'm an author and have been pirated more than once (and I know it will happen again, no matter how hard my publisher and I try to stop it). No matter whether you independently publish your work, or a major publisher does it--the fact remains that internet piracy is wrong.

I have no suggestions to make on how to stop it--although educating readers can help, but there wil always be the rotten eggs who decide that they can use whatever info they find for free.

Yasmine (who is a gluten free, dairy free, egg free, multiple-food-allergy type person)

Mike Eberhart said...

I'm sorry to hear that you and your publisher have to deal with this all the time too. I realize I'd be living a dream if I though this to be a perfect world where people would completely respect copyrights and other people's property rights in general. If there was a way I could make enough from advertiser-sponsored ads in my book or something, perhaps I'd just give it away and that would be the best answer? Who knows. Thanks for stopping by and giving your input.

I can surely see how intellectual property rights would be important to someone with an art-history background. Art is another area that is becoming tough to enforce ownership rights from what I understand, since people can just snap a picture of a piece of art (painting, drawings, photos, sculpture, etc) and then post it on the web too. Thanks for your take on things.

Well, since "Desserts" and a major sweet-tooth are the motivating factors, I can guarantee you will be having fun with the recipes in the book. You should get it any day now. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

The book arrived today.

My wife made Cinnamon Vanilla Pudding. Outstanding!

I think I'll be buying another copy for one of my nieces who loves cooking for her two siblings with Celiac Disease.

Thanks for all the work you and yours put into the book. AND you're a photographer.

Mike Eberhart said...

It seems I had an anonymous visitor to my blog today, coincidentally leaving a comment here after the offending recipe(s) were finally deleted from the offending web site (I suspect this visitor *may* have been the person who posted the recipes, but am not sure - could just be coincidence.). Thank you to the recipe site owners and/or whoever finally acted and removed the recipes!

As for the comment left here by the anonymous person that tried to make the case I couldn't claim copyright to anything but specific wording of directions and such, well, I can't help thinking that, if it comes to deciding in court whether slightly rearranging a few words makes any difference (and on multiple recipes, showing a pattern of copying), that I have plenty of prior-case precedence backing me up. If it was as simple as altering a few words, or the order of a few words, in an attempt to break copy-rights, then I will re-release some Stephen King writings by simply rearranging a few sentences on every page... oh, wait... I won't do that because I know I will be sued and lose for the simple fact I have committed obvious copyright infringement! I may not be able to convince people that copying others' work is wrong, but I certainly appreciate the fact that most people would never do this to begin with.

Thanks for the input everyone; even for the anonymous input that helps me understand the psyche of a certain select group of readers that want to walk on the edge of copyright law.

In the mean time, my contemplation of all this feedback from everyone continues, and I have a plan for moving forward that I hope will help *everyone* appreciate our recipes. I will make an attempt to get more *free* recipes posted on my online recipes library in the coming months.

In addition, I am rather certain the forthcoming Biscotti/Scones gluten-free title will be only an "E-Book", and it will be free to anyone that purchases our current Desserts book, and perhaps free to everyone... if we charge for it, the price will be low enough so as to not give anyone a reason to avoid paying for it. But first, I need to get these existing Dessert books moving, and I then focus on the next release.

Mike Eberhart said...

Thank you for the kind comments, and I'm glad you have enjoyed your first recipe. Now it is time to go for a cake, I'm thinking - perhaps a Carrot Cake, or a Chocolate Ganache cake? mmmmmm!

We definitely appreciate repeat-buyers, and I hope your niece enjoys her book too (I also just sent you an email with a coupon code to save you a bit off the next book). Thanks again Stan, and here's hoping your wife doesn't mind baking all those desserts for you :)

Anonymous said...

My wife loves baking goodies and she is thrilled with the book. Every page looks amazing.

Would you mind terribly if I added a picture of your book (from your website) on my blog with a link to the purchase page? I have essentially no readership so it might not generate any sales but it sure would be pretty.

Mike Eberhart said...

Thanks, and sure, feel free to use a picture of the book to link to my web site. I'm not exactly worried about people showing the cover of my book, as it is rather obvious where it came from. :)

Not sure which "view" you want, but the full-cover-spread images is at this address:

There are probably a few other options if you need a different size. Just poke around my book website. Thanks for the link, even if you don't expect a crowd to see it. I just appreciate the contribution to any publicity. m

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I've added the two page spread and the single page. Perhaps someone will see it and have their life improved.

KellyinVA said...

I'm sorry about all this. The internet can be so great, but so awful in other ways. People think that because no one can see what they are doing in their homes, they can do whatever they like. It speaks to the overwhelming lack of character in people these days.

After reading your blog, I happily paid full price for your book. Thank you for all your hard work. I only recently found out that I am allergic to wheat and I thought I would have to reinvent the wheel to come up with delicious food, especially desserts.

You saved me many hours in the kitchen! Thanks!

Mike Eberhart said...

Thanks for buying our book, and for the feedback regarding copyrights.

I do think you hit one point right on the money: the Internet makes it easy for people to do things they perhaps otherwise would not, and it does reflect where our values (as a country) have headed.

Certainly people would not purchase a book from an author living just down the street from them, and then distribtute flyers to the surrounding neighborhood with content from that book... of course not, because people's sense of "what is right" would instantly come into play as they would be judged by everyone in the vicinity immediately, and most would not condone such actions.

But, with the anonymity and distance the Internet provides, such behavior that would otherwise not even be considered is easily justified (or, simply not thought about, since there is not instant ramification pending). This is certainly what is making the music-sharing issues (and subsequent lawsuits by the RIAA) common place these days. Again, people posting and downloading music "freely", would presumably not do so if they were a bit more closely connected to the artist.

Well, thanks for stopping by, and I sure hope you enjoy all the great desserts you will soon be baking. Feel free to stop by with any questions or comments. Regards. m

Brit and Karleena said...

I just came upon your blog from many different links and I'm glad I did! I was diagnosed with Celiac when I was 18 months old (I'm now 25). You'd think I'd be used to GF food...but I'm incredibly picky! Growing up my mom always substituted a real fine rice flour (bought from an Oriental market) and a little xantham gum in just about every recipe. And now it's hard for me to eat anything that has a huge mix of flours in it - too grainy for me! I loved reading that you and your wife don't use a "flour mix" all the time! I am very curious about your book! I have one GF cookbook, given to me by my sister years ago, and I've hated everything in it! It sits gathering dust while I stick to my "normal" recipes and my white rice flour stash (which is running low - and I no longer live anywhere near that oriental market)! I am curious to know if your recipes turn out grainy?

I think you have a right to set your price at whatever you need too to make a profit. If money weren't so tight right now (mortgage going up, gas going up, nursing school tuition going up, etc)... I'd buy your book in a heartbeat! But I'll definitely be checking back here often - and as soon as things are a little more steady (when hubby gets a raise) I'll order a book (hopefully you have some left)! I thank you for taking so much time trying to make life easier for us gluten-free eaters! -Karleena

Mike Eberhart said...

It sounds as though you have experienced the same things that led me to demand better, and to write the book (and, much credit goes to my wife for the bulk of the recipes!) I must say though, I do not think that White Rice (especially fine-grind oriental type) is the problem, since when used properly, it is quite a useful flour in combination with some others. Also, glutinous white rice (aka, Sweet Rice) flour is very very handy in gluten-free baking, but again, it is just one part of the equation.

As for Xanthan, well, that is an easy one: we use no gums at all in the book. For whatever reason, my body really does not like gums... they are nearly as harsh on my system as gluten (likely without the real damage that gluten does though), so if I consume gums, it is in moderation and not very often. More reason I rarely eat pre-made GF products since many go overboard with gums when they do not need them. Breads are an exception perhaps, but even there, I have found ways around them (reminds me: I need to post recipes for breads not using gums).

I understand the plight of the average American right now as they face rising costs and economic uncertainty too, so I appreciate your feedback on the matter. I may run a holiday-season promo or something to help with the cost for anyone that needs help. I must say one thing is certain though: I have calculated the price I can bake my own cookies, cakes, desserts, breads, biscotti, etc for, and the fact is, I can do it for a fraction of buying pre-made gluten-free. So, I have to also believe there is money to be saved by baking one's own gluten-free diet items. I think the biggest challenge there though is the commitment of time, and the initial stocking up on ingredients needed for the baking process if one is new to it all.

Again, thanks for stopping by. m

Anonymous said...

Ate the Peanut Butter Pie last night.