Ah, Twitter, you annoying, blessed little tool. Found this article from Time via Simply Recipes and decided it was time to sort out why, exactly, this sort of article makes me roll my eyes dismissively.
I am declaring it now, and will sadly but readily hang my head in shame if disproved eventually: cookbooks will never go away, so quit trying to prove that they will.
1. Cookbooks, more so than other books, are fetishized. Look up "recipe" on flickr and see how many of them are scans of stained and tattered cookbooks with Grandma's old fashioned scribble in the margins. Go read the food blogs and notice that almost every single one has a post on the author's pride in their massive collection. I myself have a library taking up an entire corner of my kitchen, floor to ceiling. I hoard them; we hoard them. The big fancy chef cookbooks, like the big three this holiday season, are status items. They glow on the shelf and beg to be fondled, shown off at dinner parties.
2. Cooking is an alchemical, ritualistic process. I do a lot of thinking about the ways in which cookbooks are technical writing. Don't roll your eyes, technical writing isn't just computer manuals. It's fascinating. Technical writing is the only type of verbal writing* I can think of that doesn't merely aim to get the reader to recognize the emotions of a situation, or visualize them, it aims allow someone to recreate an identical situation. This is incredible, if you think about the audacity of the proposal inherent within recipes.
So, that established, part of the ritual of cooking, part of the recreation, is pulling that smudged and torn cookbook off the shelf, just like you grandparents did. Open it up, pour over its contents like a wizard looking for a spell. It's not the same if you're using a handheld gaming device or an iphone. I have two copies of Mastering the Art of French cooking: one belonged to my Grandmother, and one I bought in college before I knew the other one existed. Guess which one I use?
3. The alternatives are crap. Have you ever tried to organize 700 food-gross printouts from Epicurious? I have. It took me a week. And it smelled really bad. The great thing about cookbooks is that when you find a good one, you trust all the recipes. I know that every single pie in The Joy of Cooking will be the best version of that pie I will ever have. I don't trust Epicurious in the same way. The best recipe collection method I have ever heard of is from Alton Brown. He owns cookbooks, but doesn't cook with them. He makes a photocopy of each recipe, and takes notes on it while he's cooking. Then it goes in a protective slipcover and into a binder by type of food. If it stinks, it goes into the recycling. Simple, beautiful, and doesn't involve me having to replace an expensive electronic device everytime the bolognese gets all over everything or the cat knocks a pitcher of creme brulee custard onto the counter. I just find the cookbook, make another copy. Et voila.
*Musical notation does the same thing. I don't quite want to put plays or screenplays into this category--I don't care how dedicated you are to your craft, acting is still a metaphor for reality.