My point was to make crafting tables retain items, my bad. They did at one time. I would agree with a mechanical table more than a recipe book though. The reusable book makes it more sensible, however.
Would you need to craft a different book for every item type?
Explaining my idea a little better
Step one: Place crafting table
Step two: Place lever near table, connect via redstone
Step three: Place wooden logs in table
Step four: Pull lever, and a single log is crafted into four planks
Attaching a hopper to the top with wooden logs in it would refill the crafting table as needed, providing there is at least one log in the table to define the recipe. Attaching a hopper to the bottom would remove crafted items from the table's output.