Print Travel Books Are Dead, and There’s No Good Replacement

Arthur and Pauline Frommer with Rick Steves
Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images

Travel-guide fable Arthur Frommer, left, poses with his daughter Pauline Frommer and associate beam author Rick Steves during a New York Times Travel Show on Feb. 26 2011

Travel news site Skift is reporting that Google, that purchased a princely Frommer’s travel-information sovereignty final August, is murdering off a line of printed books — some-more than 55 years after an ex-GI named Arthur Frommer kicked it off with a initial book of Europe on 5 Dollars a Day. When Google finished a acquisition, it wouldn’t contend either it designed to stay in a dead-tree business; given that it’s Google we’re articulate about, it would be extraordinary if it had kept a paper guides going.

Me, we used to buy a critical transport book — and infrequently several — each time we went on a outing that concerned any suggestive sightseeing. But that epoch finished years ago, once we started holding a smartphone on my wanderings. When we began formulation a outing to Stockholm we customarily took, it didn’t even start to me to do any paper-based research.

My favorite transport guides by far, incidentally, were Richard Saul Wurman’s well-developed Access Guides, that were about as app-like as a wood-pulp product could get. As distant as we can tell, nothing of them have been updated this decade. If it’s not value gripping a Access Guides current, a whole difficulty is doomed.

I don’t have to summation because a smartphone with entrance to apps and a Internet is able of trouncing any printed transport book. A phone, notwithstanding being some-more pocketable than a book, can enclose an radically gigantic apportion of continuously-updated information; it can yield entrance to crowdsourced recommendation from thousands of people rather than spottier recommendations from whomever happened to write a sold book; it knows where you’re station when you’re regulating it, and can therefore advise a nearest destinations and tell we how to get to them. How can paper contest with that?

Here’s a uncanny part, though: As distant as we can tell, apps and a Internet haven’t indeed managed to urge on a best transport books. we used several iPhone apps while we was in Sweden, though it’s probable we would have been improved off toting a duplicate of Frommer’s Stockholm.

Some discerning records on a apps we tried:

  • I used one called Triposo, that was not bad. It let me download a giveaway beam to Stockholm so we could use it though racking adult general roaming charges. But if it were a printed guide, it would be customarily O.K. — and it enclosed listings for lots and lots of equipment for that it fundamentally knew customarily name, residence and category.
  • There are things about TripAdvisor’s app I admire — including a superb interface for self-guided walking tours — though it also has gaping holes compared to a required guidebook. In Stockholm, during least, it customarily lacked simple sum such as a hours of operation for a attractions it listed, and a lists of what it claimed were a “best” restaurants were formed on reader reviews that were too skinny in series to be helpful.
  • Afar and Stay.com have nicely-done apps, though for now, during least, they’re not full-blown replacements for a normal guide; they let we peruse and share rarely resourceful personal recommendations. In Stockholm, what they’ve got is good, though distant from comprehensive.

It’s possible, of course, that there’s a gorgeous Stockholm app we didn’t event upon, or that there are improved options for other cities. But is there a definitive, complete, transcendentally wonderful transport app out there — one that not customarily matches what Frommer, Fodor, Access, Lonely Planet and others have finished for decades in print, though goes distant over it?

If so, it has a low profile. And if not, it’s a good event for someone. Maybe someone like Google, that still owns all that Frommer’s content, even if it no longer skeleton to use it in a normal form.