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Rough Guides sold. Some thoughts.

Posted by somtam2000 on 3/10/2017 at 07:48 admin

Bit of inside baseball here, but if of interest, news today of Rough Guides being sold by DK to APA. APA are known for their glossy style guides under the Berlitz and Insight titles—think semi soft colours, lots of colour pics maps and so on.

The Bookseller (an industry press title) pumps up what sounds like a fairly gloomy-sounding story.

“The division has seen steady sales for the last five years, up 5% in 2014 and with boosts of 2-3% over the last couple of years. However, 2017 has seen sales plunge back down to 2013 levels, its lowest-selling full year on record post-2002. ”

Post 2002. That’s 15 years ago, Jeez.

Lonely Planet, Bradt, Rough Guides and Moon, are the only mainstream brands still (yes, I know, to varying extents) paying researchers to do the hard yards, walking the streets. I personally know quite a few RG authors and some of them are outstanding hard workers, so I hope this move works out well for them (and the brand).

At the end of the day, I’m firmly a rising tide rises all boats kinda guy.

The more publishers who decide to write about Lake Maninjau the better. Unfortunately in today’s publishing environment, writing about the lesser visited “off the map” destinations is increasingly a financial black hole if you want to actually pay your writers, provide them benefits and not rely on “the crowd”.

I’m not saying the crowd hasn’t worthwhile opinions, but that is fodder for another thread!

As an example, we’ve got Sally in far south-west Java at the moment, a trip which, as a publisher, costs us thousands of dollars (Australian, not Zimbabwean!) and practically speaking, there is little scope to earn anything back. I mean that. Anything. Nada.

Likewise my trips to Lembata or Alor and Sumbawa, or Cindy in Savanakhet, David in Phattalung or Mark in Thaton in Burma.

These are all black holes financially, but they’re all (well, perhaps not Thaton!) cool places to go and explore and that is one of the reasons we cover them.

Yes we subsidise the lesser-known through the better-known—for every one traveller in Bima there’s ten thousand in Bangkok, but still, it's a long game.

So my point is, support the publishers you like. It could be us or Lonely Planet, Moon, Rough Guides, Bradt or whoever, but put your money where your mouth is. Buy a book, become a member, pay for a PDF—whatever works for you.


#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,097

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