New Format LP Guides
Replies: 128 - Last Post: Aug 15, 2013 2:22 AM Last Post By: eurozhongguo
Jun 26, 2013 2:46 PM
120Krasowss I think a lot of LP writers are beginning to become extremely complacent in their position and that is just one very minor example. I have heard many other stories from backpackers around the world that are making many of us lose a lot of confidence in LP in general, never mind just the new editions.
Jul 31, 2013 2:22 PM
121I have been buying several Lonely Planet guidebooks per year over since 1990 (23 years). They have been making changes over that time, which I will say, made the guidebooks better. I liked the maps with the references and icons so everything could be easily found. I especially liked the detail maps with many street names and all-important monuments/points of interest. I would use these to navigate by foot and to follow the taxi or bus route so I know where I am and so I am not overcharged. I like all the country information at the back.
I am an experienced traveller and have been to over 80 countries, include many off the beaten track options and have often travelled on my own and always on a budget.
Last fall I had a Tunisia 2010 Lonely Planet which was invaluable. The maps were excellent. Over the six weeks, we went everyone by public transit and by foot and were not lost once, even in larger cities. The number of hotel options in the LP is less than before, but with the occasional Wi-Fi access, it is possible to get a larger range of accommodation options, but the location was easily found on the maps.
Next, we went to Morocco and we bought the 2011 guidebook. I was shocked. I had been to Morocco in 2004 and had travelled extensively so was familiar with the overall logistics.
LP has always been my “go to guide book” and I get it that they want to attract a wider audience from the current backpacker and flash packer. And even now, many backpackers are more upscale then when I started travelling and how I still travel (at age 60). Fodor’s and Frommers’ guides seem to be doing a good job of attracting the upper demographic and short-term traveller, so I do not understand my LP who has such a loyal following want to confuse its demographics base.
The Morocco edition seems to focus on people who must be loaded. The 'top choice' and recommended hotels were usually the most luxurious and expensive. How many people buying the LP guide are going to be looking for a $200 per night hotel when they arrive in a city or book a tour on the spot? . There is a real lack of budget options even though Morocco is awash with really budget accommodation. The budget accommodation is not budget, and the hotels that are recommended as budget were more expensive than hotels in the same area. In fact, some of these “budget hotels” were the same ones from 10 years ago and are living off the LP reputation, but are not a good deal. Accommodation listings are badly organized.. Classic backpacker budget accommodation is omitted completely from many places. 'Budget' is classed in the book as less than 50 dollars but there are tons of places for less than 15 that are not mentioned. With the current access to internet, I can understand why the accommodation selection is smaller than before, but I cannot understand why so many high-end hotels are included.
As noted, before the maps are horrible. The color and elimination of many of the in between streets makes it hard to find locations. We arrived in Fez at night and could not find the address of the hotel near the train station. At night under poor street lighting and even with a headlamp, the maps are hard to see. This is the first time in 2 months of travel we were lost. The train station area is not complicated.
Only the key attractions are highlighted with an eye. Someone has made some assumptions about what I want to see. Include all the monuments, attractions and important points. I sometimes use this as a reference when I am navigating so I do not draw attention to myself when I am searching for a specific address/location.
I am going to India this fall for 2 months and am thinking of taking an older version of the LP for the great maps and transportation information. I have a 1999 edition from a previous trip, which has great maps (even without the icons and the grid).
So in summary
1. Maps…please get some feedback from a wide range of users including older users and experienced travellers who do not take taxis everywhere. Bring back all the streets and the monuments/attractions.
2. Include a wider range of hotels in the budget and low-end category. Anyone who wants to stay at a boutique hotel can find it in Fodor’s or on Trip Advisor. And get rid of those hotels who have been resting on LP reputation
3. Bring back the detailed transportation options. We do not all travel by private car or taxi. Many of us still take the train and the bus.
Jul 31, 2013 2:33 PM
Aug 5, 2013 10:00 AM
123I am planning to go to Sri Lanka next Winter and I have bought both the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide. This is the first time that I have been brave enough to buy one of the new-style guidebooks as I have up until now managed to buy the older versions on various websites. Seeing as the country has changed a lot in the last couple of years, I thought an older Lonely Planet would be too out of date. However, I am not so brave that I could buy it without another backup though, namely the Rough Guide. I have now had time to look through both books. Although I don´t like all the blue fonts, confusing layout and bad quality photos, I can get used to them over time. I particulary dislike the small number of accommodation options since I am the kind of person that is highly unlikely to download some supplementary material from the LP website if such material exists. When I buy a guidebook, I expect it to be complete. However, the frightening thing about the new guidebook, like other new-style ones, is the maps. Under no circumstances am I going to walk the streets of Colombo with such a useless map in my hands since it´s a dead certainty that I will get lost. Therefore, I will have to rely on the Rough Guide for maps. In fact, the Colombo maps in the Rough Guide are very good and totally useable in my opinion. Most streets have names in stark contarst to the Lonely Planet maps where hardly any streets are named. Someone on the new Lonely Planet team doesn't want to lose face by facing the inevitable : that the new maps are hopeless and of no use to anyone.
I have seen somewhere on this thread somebody from LP saying that we should be buying maps on location or getting them from the tourist information office in our destinations, but isn´t the purpose of a guidebook that we don´t need to inconvenience ourselves to do that? Wasn't that how it was before Tony and Maureen Wheeler ever invented the Lonely Planet? It would also be possible to get accommodation, restaurant, public transport etc informationfrom there too. However, how do we reach the tourist information office if the LP maps are too bad to lead us there? Also, don´t the authors know that there are many destinations in the world, including some in Eastern Europe, where there are no functioning tourist information offices in any case. They either don't exist at all or operate as travel agencies selling tours. Also, in some countries, their information is written in a script that only locals can read.
Aug 10, 2013 3:56 AM
124I have now used several of the new format books and as I have mentioned before, the quality has gone way downhill. I could live with most of the changes although I do not like them except one. The maps. They are so incredibly poor that it is unbelievable. Of course we should not buy maps at location because we have a guidebook that could provide excellent maps for twenty years plus. Bring back the details, the street names and zoom out so they cover a larger area. Often attractions are described in the book but when looking at the map there is no clue as to where it is. We have had this poor format for more than two years now so please go back to the old one asap or at least the old maps. And stop shortening the books. Many of the new editions have considerably less pages. West Africa is down to some 500 pages from 800.
Aug 14, 2013 2:36 AM
125Has anyone noticed that the Rough Guides have also now been redesigned? However, they seem to have made them more similar to the Lonely Planet. The information is now more accessible than before : they place the paragraphs in columns and have put boxes at the top or end of pages giving important details. Interestingly, they have done away with yellow headings and repalced them with black ones. They have made slight changes to their maps, but only in size, not in detail. They are now slightly smaller than before, but the same information is still there. The only bad thing they have done is copied the new-look photos found in the new-format LPs. However, LP really has some real competition out there now. I thought one of the other gudebook makers might take advantage of LP's pitiful new format sooner or later. Now, it has happened. I now know which new guidebooks I will be buying in future. Bookshops are also stocking fewer LPs than before. When I asked one bookshop why this was, they replied that customers had been complaining about the new format. Where did we hear that before?
Aug 14, 2013 3:50 PM
126Unfortunately I have also found RG following LP's lead in cutting back on content.
After I had realized they had finally switched to giving real prices for accommodation instead of their long-tradition of awful price categories only, and after having used a previous edition of their very detailed Malaysia guide that covered lots of off the beaten track places not in LP, I bought the latest, "new look" RP Malaysia guide.
What a disappointment! Coverage has been cut back so much that it now covers far fewer places than LP, and is riddled with errors.
I have also bought RG's new Southwest China guide, and found it similarly far too slim.
In brief, unlike with LP, I think RG has actually benefited from their new style.
However even more than LP, they have gone downhill by cutting back on content and detail.
Aug 14, 2013 7:08 PM
127The old LP writers were hunters, spending their time on the road finding new destinations and experiences. The current writers are gatherers, content to sit in their offices and make a few phone calls. Even when, their text is full of errors, for example Eastern Bali, they know that no one will check their text for factual errors and that they will get paid before the unfortunate readers discover their errors. The designers sitting in their London studios think that it is cool to flip the index to page 50, despite the frustration that it has caused to thousands of readers.
WW2 took six years, but it takes LP even longer to admit to a factual error and correct it. After several years and editions, LP has finally corrected the description of the Balinese village of Budakeling as a Buddhist village. In fact it is a Hindu Brahma village. After several years and editions, LP has finally corrected the description of Bias Tugal Beach. I am still waiting after several editions, for LP to delete the reference to the RoRo ship that they claim operates from Kusamba to Nusa Penida. In fact this ship operates from Padang Bai.
Lazlo has also experienced LP errors and the inordinate time that LP takes to correct them. He pointed out on Amazon and in this forum that the iguana is a South American reptile, yet LP still included a photograph of one in the LP Guidebook on Indonesia for several years and editions.
While I and others wait for LP to correct factual errors, LP has created new errors in their guidebooks. The food court on the top floor of the Discovery Mall in Kuta closed down several years ago, but the LP editions printed this year claim that it is open.
Aug 15, 2013 2:22 AM
128I agree with Lazlo that RG has now produced a better guidebook than before that is very attractive to look at, so much so that I bought the new-design Sri Lanka RG yesterday even though I already had the previous edition. It is a pity that they have decided to leave out less popular places in some of their guidebooks (but I'm not sure whether this is true of all the new guidebooks though) since this was always the advantage RG had over LP. In the new-style RGs, they have made the maps clearer. The background colour has been amended so that the streets themselves stand out much more. In fact, I won't consider buying another new-format LP until they produce proper useable maps. After all, my main reason for buying guidebooks is to discover where I should go, where I should stay overnight at an affordable price and how to get around town once I arrive. If the maps are hopeless, like the LP ones now are, the guidebook is useless to me.
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