New Format LP Guides
Replies: 114 - Last Post: Apr 13, 2013 12:15 AM Last Post By: GaryD
Apr 7, 2011 10:25 PM
#14 I really appreciate where you're coming from - a fellow LP staff member has the biggest library of our guide books and new colours and sizes do change the look of the aesthetic when they're all on the bookshelf, but at the same time it brings out a sense of character that you don't see when they're all perfectly uniform.
What might be cool is sets of guide books that are uniform and sit nicely on the shelf, but at the same time- we hope overtime the books will look weathered from use and travelling with its owner.
Apr 8, 2011 2:18 PM
16I just used to have all LP books in one colour ... it looks really unique - LP specific style :)
For me this dark blue was perfect ... and if something is perfect u cant make it better, because it alredy is ...
I also try to take care of my books when im abroad ... it's easy to damage them.
Like i said - new layout is great, full colour France / Spain - ok.
Only this colours .... ehhhh ... im still not convinced
With best regards !!!
Apr 10, 2011 5:12 AM
17Firstly, I would like to reiterate everything that Dzonglor mentioned in his first contribution to this topic and, having recently seen the new guidebooks covering Turkey and Croatia, I was absolutely gutted by the way LP had decided in their wisdom (or lack thereof, to be more to the point) to spoil a successful format. I would have bought the guidebook on Croatia, but opted for the one on the Western Balkans instead as that hasn't seen the new look yet, plus the Bradt Guide for Kosovo as the Kosovo chapter in the LP is absolutely HOPELESS ..
It is true that the previous maps were difficult to read if you didn't have 20:20 vision, but what was needed was a clearer font on the maps and an adjustment to the shading, not the horrible maps that the LP is now using in its new-format guidebooks. Maybe it could learn a few lessons from the maps in the Bradt guides. Those are unfortunately not as comprehensive as in the LP, but there are more of them though, but they could easily be adjusted to be just as comprehensive. It will give them a major competitive advantage if they do so. The info in the Bradt guides is also always more comprehensive than in the LP, but the LP was more user-friendly, but not so anymore with this new format which really does strain one's eyes with all that pale blue and the inferior font that is now used.
I would like to comment on one other aspect of the new-format guides which Dzonglor didn't mention. The route maps at the start of the book are now in blue. When I saw the Turkey guide, I thought all the places were on the coast and it threw me for a while. Surely, land should be white and the oceans blue, or am I being stupid?
One good thing is that Amazon and E-bay will still sell the older guides. I am afraid LP may well have shot itself in the foot this time - time will be the judge of this. I am also now prepared to consider Footprint guides.
Apr 10, 2011 8:54 PM
Apr 11, 2011 1:02 AM
May 10, 2011 11:51 PM
20Hi, I think this is a really interesting discussion. I've been looking for a guide for Canada and Quebec. I was browsing my local library, and it was pretty insightful seeing how the focus of guidebooks has changed, from older editions to newer ones.
The original Lonely Planet formula was a guide book by travellers for travellers, a "a ready reference when you're on the road", and you could tell, by the no nonsense sort of set-up: I like how GaryD explained it: "books written by an engineer!" Of course, that's why they were so bloody useful. I travelled all over South America with the 2007(ish) Shoestring bible, it was a fantastic backpacker guide book.
As many in this forum have pointed out, LP has diversified from this backpacker focus, to appeal to mainstream travel. As a competitive company I suppose that makes sense, and so I'll stay away from the "discover series" and they'll stay away from me. No worries.
But this reformating of the country guides isn't a diversification of LP to appeal to different markets- its a fundamental shift in the basic staple guidebook- the country guide book.
It's not a shift from "marginal backpacker focus" to "mainstream traveller focus". It's a shift from "on the ground practical focus", to a "look appealing in a bookshop focus".
I think all the points you all make, dzsonglor, garyD and Dale164 speaks for this. For example, I don't agree with #8 that the new subdividing makes the books easier to navigate. Well, let's be precise: not easier to navigate for the traveller on the road. I suppose it certainly makes it easier to navigate for the bookshop browser, or when you sit at home planning your itinerary. What it doesn't do is make it easier to navigate when you arrive in a new city and need to find the cheapest place to eat (dzsonglor's comment that sorting isn't done by price any more)
It's also telling that one reply which LP staff focused on are the aesthetic criticisms: the dark blue jacket cover etc...
The #8 post claims traveller (or bookshop customer?) feedback that the old books were too cluttered etc. Well, true- the old style LP guide books might seem "impenetrable", sitting next to other glossy colour coded guides. (But word of mouth on the road knows better, and this is what has made LP's success and reputation.)
The new Lonely Planet marketing solution? "Changes to fonts, colours and layout were made as a direct consequence of traveller feeback that the text on the page was too impenetrable – basically they told us they love our content, but often find it too hard to find the information they need. So the designers have worked to address that problem through some layout tweaks, illustrated features and infographics."
This is exactly the problem. The job of reformating the guides has obviously been given to designers and layout artists with their priorities based on "the look". If the "look" is now less cluttered because it's suddenly colourful and subdivided, at the expense of the old focus on actually being useful on the road.
In fact, I couldn't imagine a worse long term marketing strategy than making the staple Lonely Planet countries series look exactly like every other gimmicky guidebook out there. Diversify with city "encounters" all you like, but take the country series down the "mirror mirror on the wall" path and you'll loose a loyal following pretty fast.
The last thing the travel guide market needs is another glossy "before you travel" guidebook, and I agree with eurozhongguo that- in the long term- LP has shot its reputation to "on the road" travellers in the foot with this one.
So, that leaves me with a question.
I'm still looking for a decent guide book to take with me when I set out on a low budget backpack across Canada and Quebec. Unfortunately there's no current LP shoestring guide for the region. I'm not prepared to settle for the new Canada edition, with it's priorities which have shifted so far from what I want as a backpacker. (It's not just the layout, it's the knowledge of what this shift in priorities means, and the doubt that I'm really getting the insight and usefulness I'll need as a backpacker.)
Amazon provides access to a few old, now unavailable, guides, so I'm left with the LP choice between:
the old 10th edition 2008 Canada guide
a (French) 2002 Quebec region guide,
the old 2005 USA and Canada on a shoestring.
Any suggestions? Talk about a gap in the market. What is the best current guidebook for budget, independent, on-the-road backpacker travel in Canada?
Lonely planet might fix this particular gap by bringing the North America shoestring series back from the dead, but it leaves the fundamental problem that the staple country guidebooks have shifted focus from on-the-road-usefulness to bookshop appearance. In my opinion, that's not just a shame but a bloody bad business strategy.
May 11, 2011 12:29 AM
21There now a Poll devoted to the new format on Thorn Tree.
May 18, 2011 11:39 AM
22I had a look at the new Bali guide today. The blue-print hurts my eyes or at least I think it`s less good than the dark-purple! Might be the spaces inbetween words and maps too.
At first glimpse I liked the new visual signs for food & co though.
But as for the Bali guide, very little tipps on accomodation - bad! Even though it changes fast, that`s very important and certainly one of the reasons for many customers to buy the latest book. Not only they want to know why the LP rates newbies and what for, also they want to find them on the maps.
Jun 12, 2011 2:30 AM
23I saw the new format guides for England and Great Britain in a bookshop today and my first impressions where good. However in this particular bookshop I thought the prices where cheaper than previously and the guides, particularly the England one, seemed to be thinner. Can any forum members comment on whether those new guides have a similar level of detail to the old guides? I am holidaying in the UK again from August in the hope that I can have the wonderful time that I had in 2009.
Jul 10, 2011 11:08 PM
24I just looked at the new China guide and the new design is awful, I find the blue and grey writing really difficult to read and the black on grey street names on the maps are impossible. (I have astigmatism so thin black writing on gray just blurs together, I would have to put my reading glasses on to use the maps)
The new guides seem to have incoporated all the things I hate about rough guides with no noticable improvements, the coloured writing, the stupid $ price indicators with price brackets like "less that 200 yuan" (I try to find accomadation for less than 50). Not separating the food and accomadation into budget, midrange, expensive makes it a lot harder to find things.
I haven't looked through it in more detail, just flicking through a friend's has given me a headache, but if this is the way lonely planets are going I'll have to find a different brand of guidebook to use.
Jul 11, 2011 7:55 AM
25I have spent some time with the new Spain guide and I think it is awful. They basically added colors and pictures and removed information. The maps have less information and are more zoomed in, usually cutting out things like bus & train stations which are rarely in the center of town. I can't even say that the addition of colored text makes it easy to read or navigate. I thought they created the Discover series for people who wanted a dumbed down guidebook. I have no idea why they dumbed down their regular books as well. I am definitely in the market for any guidebook brand that prioritizes information, not colors and pictures.
Jul 16, 2011 5:45 AM
26The main thing that is good about the new-style guidebooks is the word FREE next to places where they charge no admission fee and a symbol for an English menu which is useful for many Asian countries whose native tongue is written in an alien script or even some European countries so that one doesn't have to try and decipher Czech or Hungarian.
However, the new guides certainly contain less information than before. I was looking at the China one the other day and had a look to see what hotels were listed. It was obvious that information had been taken out to make way for pictures and blue script. My favourite budget hotel in Macau (listed in previous editions) was no longer there. Space would obviously not allow it.
Therefore, the new gudebooks are an inferior product. I will not be buying the new China guide. I prefer my older one.
Jul 16, 2011 10:41 AM
Jul 20, 2011 6:28 AM
28I've just bought the PDF version of the Kalimantan chapter of the new Borneo guide.
Quite apart from the new format, it has a shocking lack in content:
Kalimantan has 4 provinces, all covered in various length in LP's (still old format) Indonesia guide.
This guide has its first part of the Kalimantan chapter titled "WEST & CENTRAL
KALIMANTAN", yet despite the title and some lines in the intro saying that West Kalimantan is the main entry point from Sarawak in neighboring Malaysian Borneo, it has absolutely ZERO info on West Kalimantan, not even covering its capital city, let alone any of its numerous attractions. That misleadingly titled section in the book is ONLY about Central Kalimantan! With this, an entire HUGE province which is also at major international crossroads has been totally omitted from this new edition.
Aug 27, 2011 3:38 PM
29Travelled with new-format LP in Scotland. Frankly - I don´t like it at all! It´s so different from the LP I really loved. It´s so alike Rough Guide. And I don´t like RG - I have only one copy of RG compared to 32 LP´s (with 5 more on the way - luckily only Sicily is going to be in new layout).
First of all, I really liked the so-called old-fashioned LP cover. It was nice to have all that blue-covered books on the shelf. Secondly, I like to sign my books and write dates of visit to the place - and there´s no more decent place for my initials on the front page. But OK - these are just minor inconveniences.
The real disturbances are:
- There´s no more Quick Reference inside the front cover! It´s terrible.There´s something more or less similar to good old Quick Reference - but it´s on page 15! While on the road, I dont really like to search for the exchange rate on the page 15. Quick Reference was brilliant and absolutely indispensable for me. And now there´s no one.
- the content is awful. When I read a book - on even more when I prepare a trip! - I need practical and easy-to-use content to navigate the book. The new format lacks it. So-called content inside front cover is totally useless. Impossible to find anything with this. Extremely annoying.
- The colours used in the book. When I look at the map I assume that blue is the sea and anything other is of another colour. How am I supposed to quickly understand the blue colour of the land and white of the seas / waters? Absolutely uncomfortable and impractical.
- Suggested itineraries. In older books there were references to the pages in the book where you could find information about places in LP suggested itineraries. Now there´re places but no pages! When planning a trip I like using LP suggestions. Now to analyse the itinerary proposed I need to really search for the place mentioned! And bear in mind - there´s no good content as well!
- Climate chart is supposed to be in the directory chapter, not in the beginning of the book.
- Maps are very difficult to use. It was far better to use the maps where streets were white and font black. Now we have grey streets and black font.Black and white are much more contrast then grey and black - and all other space except streets is white. really difficult to use in practice.
- Don´t like listings of sleeping and eating places. These should be arranged by price range. The pound sing indicating the price category is nice - but the places still must be listed in price-growing order. It´s much easier to use the book and look for a place.
- Why on Earth was there a need for 3-D plans?! It´s completely like DK Eyewitness Guide - and this one is definitely not my favourite. Who said that old plans were bad? They were really usable while on the road - and it´s the most important.
- The"Understand" chapter must be in the front. This is the first think I usually read about the place I´m going. Why should I look for it at the rear part of the book?
These are just some thoughts about the new layout. I´m really bothered what to do. Luckily I have old-styled LP-s for my already planned trips until next June. But than - what guide book should I turn to? Any suggestions? RG and Eyewitness are completely out for me, seems like LP is going to become "out" as well. Maybe I should turn to some French book - there´re supposed to be some good ones in French. Never used before but seems like should try.
For general comment - I loved LP because it was a guide-book from the people on the road to the people on the road. Now it looks like some nice travel book for package- travellers while on holiday. It´s not a convenient book for independent travellers in the middle of the road. Pity. Sorry to say that but I´m really disappointed.
P.S. Who and why saw the need to skip proved quality and turn to the new? I´d love to have old-styled LPs back.
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