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Cooking by the book, the e-book

April 6, 2011 | 12:00 pm

For weeks, I've been trying to get to the Los Angeles Public Library to pay off my fine so I can check something out again.

Photo Never going to happen. So I finally ponied up the $1.50 fee to settle my account online. At the same time, I decided to explore the library's e-media program. Poking around in the e-book section, under nonfiction, I found 77 titles in Cooking & Food.  OK, that's paltry compared to the main library's vast collection of old and new cookbooks. But there are some titles you might want to check out, such as Gabrielle Hamilton's new memoir, "Blood, Bones & Butter‚" (get on the waiting list), Gordon Ramsay's "Cooking for Friends," David Chang's "Momofuku" or "The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From an Accidental Country Girl"  from Web phenom Ree Drummond.

I even found former Times food editor Ruth Reichl's memoir of her years as restaurant critic at the New York Times‚ "Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise." Julie Powell's latest book is there too, "Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession," as well as "Cake Decorating for Dummies," just in case you want to polish your skills while watching yet another cake reality show. Look under Public Domain eBooks for even more (older) titles.

It's a good way to try out a cookbook for 21 days and decide whether you like it enough to buy it. You can add titles that catch your eye to a wish list, and also place holds on up to 10 books. Once one of the titles becomes available, an email apprises you of the fact. You have four days to actually check the book out. Then the meter starts ticking. Every time you open your virtual "bookshelf," the number of days left for each title is displayed.

If regular books had that feature, I'd never be late. But then again I'd have to actually go to the library to return my books. With e-books, they just sort of expire and presumably vanish. Until next time.

Los Angeles Public Library; www.lapl.org.

-- S. Irene Virbila

Screen shot of library wish list on iPhone by S. Irene Virbila / Los Angeles Times