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Travel guides are killing themselves

Following the recent controversy over whether or not a Lonely Planet guidebook author faked some of the book’s contents, Chris Taylor “ who has himself written a number of Lonely Planet guides “ weighs in on what he sees as an industry in decline.

Guidebook publishers will deny this, but the travel publishing industry is bound to exploit demand for what is widely seen as a glamour job ” travel and get paid for it. But with so many competing guidebook series, many titles do not generate sales revenue that justifies the legwork that results in genuine personal recommendations. Most publishers who make claims to the contrary are being disingenuous.

In this context, Lonely Planet is probably one of the most responsible industry players. Nevertheless, pay rates for Lonely Planet writers have dropped with the proliferation of competing guidebook series in the past two decades. When Lonely Planet chief executive Stephen Palmer told the BBC (Lonely Planet is 75% owned by BBC World, the commercial arm of the BBC) this week that “we’re pretty confident we pay at the top of the range”, his confidence was not misplaced. What he neglected to say ” and I have seen many examples ” is that his company’s internal authors’ forum bristles with author posts about pay rates that have forced them to cut corners.

Read the whole piece here.