In the frenzy of digital and smart devices, doomsayers have predicted the end of printed books. In most cases, however, it seems that people still prefer printed books to digital ones–except in the case of travel guide books.
In 2013, BBC Worldwide sold the Lonely Planet, a well-known and trusted travel publication, for $120 million less than it paid for the brand a few years earlier. Between 2007 and 2010 alone, travel book sales in the UK dropped 27%, with some editions of traditionally best-selling travel guide books falling in sales up to 45%.
When you think about it, this drop in travel guide book sales makes a lot of sense. Some cities implement construction changes and attractions can change policies or hours so quickly that within a few years of publication, travel guide books can become inaccurate or even obsolete altogether. On the internet, you can access up-to-date information and read millions of travel blog posts that can help a visitor decide which attractions to visit or restaurants to try. Plus, smart devices are significantly lighter than physical books. Nowadays, many travel guide book publishers now offer travel apps to adapt to the digital preferences.
To be fair, there are practical reasons for still using paper travel guide books though. If you’re traveling to a remote area where internet coverage is spotty, having reliable access to information is priceless. If you break your phone or drop your phone or tablet into the ocean, you aren’t completely lost or helpless with a print travel guide book. Although using Google Maps allows a tourist to appear less touristy than using a paper map, I recommend carrying a paper map, just in case your phone battery dies. You never know what will happen, and it is best to be prepared.
As attached as we are to our phones and devices, there’s something to be said about unplugging from the digital world, looking around you, connecting with locals, and experiencing the real world without technological interference. A travel guide book provides what you need to know but doesn’t bother you with Facebook notifications. Guidebooks often include background information about the city, country, historical sites, and more, which can be helpful for you to decide if a certain attraction is worth visiting.
Although the travel guide book isn’t nearly as popular as in years past, it could still have a place in traveling.
Do you still buy and use travel guide books?
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Featured image via Live Long and Travel