Books are faring far better than their recorded music counterparts when it comes to losing money at the hands of digital. Nevertheless, one area of literature has been impacted particularly badly: the travel guidebook.
There was once a time when an impending trip overseas (or indeed to another region of the UK) meant an investment in the printed word. From Lonely Planet to The Rough Guide, cities to vast wildernesses, part of the excitement of going away was in the pre-departure research.
We would pore over pages to take in background information, tips and histories. Or stare, longingly, at the limited pictures contained between the covers, imagining what it would be like if the photographer had turned his camera around a few degrees to reveal another vista, and what it will be like when we get there.
These days, of course, our first port of call before any holiday or business journey is likely to be online. Wikitravel always has some useful nuggets of information, and travel websites and blogs are ten a penny, each offering opinionated but often worthwhile views of the wide world. Thanks to Google Earth and Images, we can now type in almost any destination and be given a comprehensive pictorial overview of exactly what that location looks like. You’d have to be heading off to the deepest, remotest corners on the planet to have a chance of the search coming up empty.
But whilst mainstream travel guides flounder as a result of our access to, and the reliability of, general information, their luxury counterparts – which have always been very separate entities – are continuing to prove there is still success to be had in paid-for, well-written, high-end destination books. Take Hedonist’s Guide (Hg2), for example, which continues to expand its range.
Or indeed the world famous fashion house Louis Vuitton, and the brand’s impressive history in publishing travel guidebooks. The label’s City Guides have a well-established reputation for high-end vacation advice, and their popularity goes well beyond the travelling elite. 15 editions featuring the world’s most exciting metropolises are now being made available to own in a beautiful box set, which is no good for backpacking around town, but a perfect addition if you’re more about arriving at your home from home with four matching suitcases. The urban sprawls in question are Beijing, Cape Town, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Miami, Moscow, New York, Paris, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Tokyo, Venice and Sydney, and are definitely worthy of investigation – as are the locales in question.