Thursday, September 24, 2009

Some Genres More Suitable as Ebooks?

This blogger seems to think so. After reading this I straight away could see how travel guides would be ideal as ebooks. There used to be a very popular travel guide in these parts called Africa on a Shoestring. I came to Botswana as a volunteer and all of the volunteers from all of the countries had this book. Twice it let me seriously down by being outdated.

Once my husband and I were leaving Chimanimani National Park in Zimbabwe. We wanted a short way to get to the Ruins. It had rained forever and we were camping with our newborn daughter and all we wanted was to be out of the mountains. So we pulled out Africa on a Shoestring and there was the map with a road that cut through the mountains making our trip, we thought at the time, shorter. What they failed to mention was that the word road was used quite loosely in the book. This road was a very thin, one lane, dirt path with towering mountains on one side and bottomless valleys on the other, and rail guards were obviously considered a waste of money. Once we were on it, turning around was not an option, it could not be done. It was about 30 kms but it took us hours. Luckily, we met no motorised vehicles on the way. I'm not sure what we would have done if we had. For a long time afterwards I had nightmares envisioning that scenario.

In the other case, when my husband and I were just dating we decided to hitch across two deserts (the Kgalagadi and the Namib) to go to the Atlantic Ocean in Swakopmund, Namibia. We had P500, taking this shoestring business to the extreme. We knew we had a free place to sleep in Gantsi before we crossed the border. We needed somewhere to sleep in Windhoek and Africa on a Shoestring recommended a youth hostel. By the time we got to Windhoek, which was a few days later than we had expected after sleeping a few days on the roadside, the youth hostel was no where to be found. It was now a high rise complex of flats which seemed to house only Christians. They were nice, though. They even took us in for breakfast.

The point I'm trying to make is that tourist guides become obsolete almost as soon as they're printed. Ebook tourist guides could be updated continuously. The publishers could constantly add readers' comments. They would be dynamic and, more importantly, always correct.

One interesting thing that Martyn Daniels says in this post is that it is time to stop thinking of books as one big homogeneous industry just because they are all published on paper. There are so many sectors within publishing,each with their own way to be sold. Some are more suitable as ebooks, some may not be. Some can be sold, some given away free. Again, we need to open our minds and step forward into these exciting times.


Anonymous said...

I think travel books have great potential as e books,and have noticed that Lonely Planet is going this route. I'm heading to India next week, and was able to purchase just the chapters I needed from the country guide, online, rather than having to buy the whole book... They were sent to my inbox as a pdf file, and I'll download them to my iphone (and, I admit, probably print out a copy too...)

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Publishing is changing. Information is at hand instantaneously now.

We have a California camping guide that rates campgrounds in California, 10 being best, 1 being worst. Not many campgrounds earn the 10 rating. The ones that are rated 10 are usually off the beaten path. We headed for one in Northern California, on the beach. It took us longer than anticipated to get there, windy roads with some of the prettiest scenery we'd ever seen. Our two youngest kids were with us, they were seven and nine at the time. They were hungry and tired of being in the car, the sun was going down. By the time we got to the road that was to lead us down to the campground the fog had rolled in.

What the book couldn't tell us--the campground had been swarmed by huge crowd of riff raff, that could have come straight out of the movie "Mad Max". but, no Mel Gibson. It was very scary. I mean frightening. As my husband made his way through the turnabout they were hitting our car and throwing rocks!

We drove out of that place like a bat out of hell, a few of them chasing us. The kids still talk about it.

Elspeth Futcher said...

Travel books, yes. Handy foreign phrase books, yes. The former because they go out of date so very quickly and the latter because of the ease of transportation.


Helen Ginger said...

Travel books would be great as ebooks, especially if updates would be priced lower than the original book. And it they were searchable with GPS maps and downloadable to either you eReader, your phone or your computer.

Not asking for much, am I?