I require photos in cookbooks since I am a visual person. Words are great but pictures help greatly; especially when I am not familiar - I would then have a comparative.
your poll shows the "absolutely! i only buy cookbooks with photos!" with a clear lead. but, most readers of your blog are probably biased photo lovers - given the absolute beauty of your work and their reasons for visiting your site. personally, i love photos and find that i am only attracted to recipes with a gorgeous pic. to each his own, though!
I use the photos to work with, I am so ADHD so the pictures are the first to intrigue me, not the recipe name. If the picture looks good, I will read the text of the recipe.
Reference cookbooks like "How to Cook Everything" don't need photos. Very old and/or odd cookbooks without photos may capture my attention due to unusual recipes ("From a Monastery Kitchen" springs to mind). Otherwise though I much prefer photographs with my recipes. And not all of the photos inserted into a section in the middle of the book, but rather printed near the recipes. I'm sure this method is more expensive to publish however.
I don't think every cookbook needs photos, but if you aren't including them, you better be an astoundingly good writer (or the book should be a reference-type book). I find that when I'm flipping through cookbooks trying to decide what to make, I'm less likely to cook something if there isn't a photo.
Cookbooks without photos need to tell a story in a way that the photos otherwise would I'm thinking of books like "A Homemade Life": I wanted to cook what she wrote about even without photos.
I love beautiful cookbooks with gorgeous food porn, but some of my favorite cookbooks are compendiums like Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything series, The Joy of Cooking, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and the Gourmet cookbooks, all of which are (in my opinion) wonderful kitchen workhorses the value of which lies in their depths of variety, technical knowledge and the voice of their respective authors.
I agree with you, Matt. Melissa's book is excellent and her writing and recipes speak for themselves. Would I love to see pictures? Sure, but it is not going to stop me from buying a book from someone I KNOW knows what she's doing. I have so many other cookbooks filled with gorgeous photos that I'm getting rid of because the recipes are uninspired or just not special. I'd much rather have an excellent cookbook without photos and imagine the dish in my head than a cookbook that looks like food porn yet nothing tastes good.
yes, I want to see what the finished outcome should look like. It motivates me and helps me to envision the final product as I make it.