Out of Print Cookbooks

The out of print cookbooks referred to on this website are often still obtainable if you happen to know where to look for them. Once found, they can offer an invaluable source of cookery information and pure reading enjoyment.

Below you'll find my helpful tips and secrets on how to find old editions and reprinted copies for your own cookbook collection.

How to Find Out of Print Cookbooks

Out of Print CookbooksDiscover Out of Print Cookbooks
(Source: ©Don Bell)

Many of the vintage cookbooks I inherited, but others were mostly bought at local second hand bookstores specializing in out of print books.

Sometimes, it's the disorganized shops that yield the best finds for rare editions. Be prepared to search through cardboard boxes and dusty shelves for that rare book that catches your eye.

Book Hunting Tips

  • Search Online for Digitized Books

    Search on Google for the title of the book you're looking for. Sometimes out-of-print books can be downloaded as a PDF file.

  • Check Out Your Public Library

    Often, local libraries store older seldom-accessed books in "stacks" that are kept in the basement. Staff will retrieve them for you.

  • Check Out Almost-New Stores

    Some almost-new charity stores have shelves lined with secondhand books besides clothing and knickknacks.

Public library sales, garage sales, flea markets, and church bazaars are also good sources for vintage cookbooks. You can sometimes stumble across real bargains! However, you must get there early before the serious book collectors.

Ask your friends, relatives, and neighbors if they have any old, used cookbooks. Many people have them stored away in their basements or attics or taking up needed space on bookshelves, and they would be happy to give them a new home.

Library Stacks

Some of the more popular nineteenth-century cookery books can still be found in public libraries. These old books are often located off the main shelves in what they call the "stacks" because of their worn condition and susceptibility to damage.

You may have to check the library computers and ask a librarian for assistance. Also, ask whether the book will be in a future library fundraising sale. Library sales are great sources for vintage cookbooks.

Online Bookstores

Used bookstores that maintain a website can be great sources for rare and out of print cookbooks. A search for an out of print book title on the Internet can sometimes locate an online store offering real bargains.

A search for your favorite cookbook author's name will also turn up heritage cookbook sources. And don't forget to check out the "antiquarian" bookstores. AbeBooks.com is a good resource.

Purchase Reprints

When you read the old fashioned dessert recipes on this website, you'll notice from the citations that many were discovered in vintage editions of Fannie Farmer's "The Boston Cooking School Cookbook," "The White House Cookbook," "Mrs. Beeton's Everyday Cookery." These and other classic recipe books were best sellers in their day.

Great News! You can sometimes buy reprints of these timeless cookbook classics at affordable prices either online or in your local bookstore.

Download Digital Copies

Some out of print cookbooks are now digitized and available for reading online or can be downloaded as PDF copies. Simply search using the book's title and-or author.

Second-Hand Cookbook Prices

Illustrated Watercolor Frontispiece by Kate Greenaway 1846-1901Watercolor Frontispiece by Kate Greenaway 1846-1901
(Source: Adapted by Don Bell)

Prices for vintage cookbooks will often vary, but most cookbooks from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are surprisingly low priced and affordable; however, a lot depends on the bookstore, the condition of the book, and its rarity.

For instance, I purchased a well-used 1913 edition of "The White House Cook Book" for $15, and a 1912 edition of "Mrs. Beeton's Every Day Cookery" for just $8.00 at the local Peterborough Public Library fundraising sale.

And, I was thrilled to get an 1891 edition of "The Girl’s Own Annual" in good condition for just $6 at a similar book sale. It contains some great Victorian dessert recipes, plus a delightful four-color frontispiece featuring a watercolor illustration by the celebrated nineteenth-century children's book illustrator Kate Greenaway (1846-1901).

The Greenaway illustration alone (shown above), framed, is worth several times the price I paid for the book!

You never know what treasures you will find at a used book sale. It's not unusual to find used Betty Crocker cookbooks as they were quite popular, but you might stumble across a vintage Fannie Farmer Cook Book or a copy of "Aunt Babette's Cook Book." These were some of the most popular recipe books of their day with great recipes for any occasion.

My best advice: Have patience, keep searching, and you are sure to find some wonderful out of print cookbooks of interest.

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