Simon Quicke, author of the Inside Books Blog, emailed recently to draw our attention to book publishing giant Penguin and its concerns over the future of the innocent travel guidebook.
It appears that at a recent sales conference in Marbella, Penguin asked execs to consider the fate of the travel guidebook in the face of competition from the “this new thing called the interweb”, chortles Jeremy Ettinghausen on the Penguin corporate blog.
He may indeed laugh. But the threat to the traditional model is very real, and Penguin, which dsitributes the Rough Guides collection, is right to take hard look at how it approaches the travel sector in the years to come.
They are not alone either. Lonely Planet, that bastion of the backpacker guidebook, has invested heavily in its online presence, and the more upmarket Dorling Kindersley has also recently relaunched its website with podcasts, downloadable travel guides and maps.
[The DK site looks remarkably like the new travel channels belonging to the Guardian and TimesOnline - our recent "analysis"]
It is an incredibly interesting challenge for these once powerhouses of travel publishing.
- How do they reach consumers in an electronic way, without losing their edge as experts in print publishing?
- What can they do about inexorable rise of the travel portals – such as newspaper websites – that can effectively do exactly the same?