Ingram Blog

A Brief Tour in Travel Guides

By Holly Hebert, Collection Development Librarian, and Wils Smithwick, Collection Development Administrator for Publishers.

Cold weather often brings patrons into libraries looking for travel titles. Whether they’re planning a quick weekend getaway, a spring break excursion, or a summer vacation, patrons flock to travel books for inspiration when they are tired of the cold grey February skies.

When I worked in the library, patrons would often return books in February and March with sand stuck in the bindings or Mylar covers, and we’d try to guess by the texture and color of the sand where they had been. This always was accompanied by a little bit of jealousy because we were stuck in the library while they were out traveling warm sandy beaches. On a side note, sand is surprisingly hard to get out of a Mylar cover.

What are the most popular guides right now? That depends on your audience. It’s great to have a mix of guides so that everyone is happy. Fodor’sand Frommer’s guides have been mainstays in libraries for decades. They are comprehensive and cover locations all over the world, as well as throughout the United States. Due to the changes in ownership, it has taken Frommer’s a while to get back to their former offerings. Both Frommer’s and Fodor’s offer lodging and dining suggestions and cater more towards a mature crowd. Lonely Planet guides have a strong following and their coverage is global as well. DK Eyewitness guides, especially the Eyewitness Top 10 series are known for their colorful photos and diagrams, as are Insight Guides. The ever popular Rick Steves’ guides to Europe are still going strong and would be complemented by the DVDs from the popular Rick Steves’ Europe TV show. One of the oldest publications, Michelin, has been in the travel business for over 100 years. Focusing mainly on Europe, these guides offer extensive descriptions of attractions and helpful maps and diagrams. They are famous for their star ratings system. Back in the states, Moon guides do a great job of covering all the states, especially the areas that are not considered travel hot spots. Moon Pittsburgh and Moon Spotlight Detroit & Ann Arbor come to mind. Off the Beaten Path guides fill this niche as well.

For outdoorsy types, guides that focus on hiking, kayaking, camping, and rock climbing, are a good bet. Travelers are more active than ever, and many want to get out and experience nature up close instead of in a museum. Those travelers will appreciate guides from Globe Pequot Press, Wilderness Press, Falcon Guides, and Adventureskeen. The Good Sam’s RV and Savings Guide falls in this area as well. Due to renewed interest in our National Parks and because of the 100th anniversary of the National Park service, many travel publishers have produced new guides covering the different parks.

Cruising is popular for travelers who want more pampering. Titles like Fodor’s Caribbean Cruise Ports of Call 2017, or Frommer’s EasyGuide to River Cruising will keep your cruise enthusiast patrons happy.

Some special destinations like Disneyland, Disney World, and Hawaii may be best covered by specialty guides. The Unofficial Guides cover the Disney Resorts, as well as Las Vegas and the Mall of America. Birnbaum’s guides focus solely on Disneyland and Disney World. A must-see destination for many families, Disney guides tend to be some of the most loved in libraries. And don’t leave out Hawaii. Although it is covered by many guides, but the Wizard Publications individual guides to the islands are invaluable.

Not for Tourists guides are just that, guides that are not really for tourists. However, they can be invaluable for those visiting the major cities that are covered, such as London, New York City, Boston, and Chicago.

With travel restrictions recently lifted, Cuba is a new booming travel destination. Top Ten Cuba (DK Eyewitness) and the Rough Guide to Cuba are two good choices to add to your collection.

Many popular travel books aren’t so much guides as what I call “bucket List” travel books. Titles like Lonely Planet’s Epic Bike Rides of the World, Sourcebook’s Big Bucket List Book and 50 States, 5,000 Ideas by National Geographic will attract the list makers and dreamers who come through your doors.

For those who are still in the dreaming stage, travel memoirs can be just as powerful. There are several promising titles coming out in the spring including The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold: Adventures Riding the Iron Curtain, Gizelle’s Bucket List, Havana: a Subtropical Delirium, Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America, and Bangkok: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Thailand.

For those who need an out of this world experience, look for the Vacation Guide to the Solar System which is coming out in June. There truly is a guide for any destination!

New editions of travel guides can be automatically ordered through our Travel Continuations (Adult) program. Click here for a list of the stand-alone titles mentioned in this article.