Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Value of Guidebooks

As electronic reading devices become more popular there becomes a time when you wonder if any book will be worth buying in person. I like books I like them in person more than on a computer screen but still it is cheap and easy to get a book on the computer. Now one small section of the book market is the guidebook. These are books which contain information about a location be it climbing, hiking, hotels, tourist attractions, restaurants, and other location specific information.

You see there is no economical global wireless service to search the internet or information. In fact there are places without electricity. These constraints pretty much limits devices like mobile phones and net books and without electricity even electronic readers are worthless. At that point the value of a self contained book with everything you desire to know about an area is very valuable. I recently paid $70 for three guidebooks to Colorado. Some may question that logic because probably 85% of the routes are available free on the internet. That's true but as has happened more than once people print the route information for a climb and only read the descent information once so they have an adventure descending easy terrain that was more scary than the route itself. Also in the case that you are holed up in a location without internet access you may want to climb another route or do something else. With a guidebook you will have a number of options of things to do in that area whereas otherwise you may have no idea what to do.

Additionally there are usually those few routes or activities in the book that are not online because they are obscure or infrequently done. I know that several times while my family was on vacation we would stop at places where we were the only tourists. In fact it has happened so many times it isn't even strange anymore. We have also stopped at those national monuments that get only a few thousand visitors a year and we were one third of the groups there.

So there is still value in a guidebook. Something that does not need recharging or a wireless signal. A one time purchase with no residual costs.


  1. Hey Isaiah, its Frey, gotta say that I received a Nook for Christmas and am in love with it. Granted, I'm a being of a techie, so new technology is always sexy to me, but the amount of information available to you is incredible. I have already read several books on it, including a great one that I would never have come across otherwise. The most exciting thing for me, though, (if some publisher figures this out) is that it can offer an incredibly cheap way to publish books by authors who might never get the chance, including yourself. Its a great way to reach an audience for cheap. Granted, not every nugget might be gold, but it could promise a better chance for the little guy.

    Just my personal thoughts... and yes, I'd probably still buy a guidebook when needed. These ebooks do a lot of things, but sometimes paper trumps all.

  2. Oh I totally agree with you. I mean the internet and ebooks has totally changed or at least is changing the way people get information and making it a whole lot easier for authors. It's also better for readers because it's less expensive in the long run. I guess that it just stuck out to me that not everything could be replaced electronically because the last few months I've felt like books will actually disappear. Thanks for the comment!


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