Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ebook Authors: Travel Guides are the Ultimate eBooks

Do you want to create a travel guide that is the centerpiece of your reader’s travel experience? You know an ebook that is the foundation of their travel decisions. A travel package that they have at their fingertips. One that will help them with every part of their journey.

You can do this but you need to look at your ebook differently. You cannot create just a copy of your bound version.

Last week I got involved in a discussion on Linkedin which was started by Nola Lee Kelsey of ‘The Voluntary Traveler’ about creating travel guides as eBooks.

This brought back a memory of an experience I had last November. At the time I thought that ebook authors were missing the boat on the opportunity to create a living, breathing guide that took advantage of a digital book. It has linking ability. It is convenient and portable. You can add notes and highlights.

I think travel books could be the ultimate ebook. The information in paper travel guides become inaccurate over time and the Internet links become quickly out of date.

Ultimate eBook

So what is the ultimate ebook? Right up front I suggest it should not be just a reproduction of the paper book. For starters, it must contain a live link back to the author, publisher and even the cover designer, editor and so on. I shouldn’t even have to mention that one.

But we are discussing the ultimate ebook here.

It should include links to the Internet for special references. The rendering process should create real links here not just the written URL for the site. This is a problem in many ebooks today.

It should allow a path to the Internet for the reader to find an updated link when one goes bad and as they always do.

In-book links should be inserted pointing the reader to extra material to assist them in defining special terms.

The ebook should have color pictures that fit on a small device screen. Eventually all devices will have color. Video clips will be common place.

It should be created so that it is easy for the author to update and change information.

The ultimate ebook should allow notes and highlights that can be copied to other applications like copying a paragraph to a Word document.

Keywords should be inserted at the appropriate place to allow easy searching.

The content should be written in snapshots, or chunks of information rather than a long dissertation.

So where does the Travel Guide fit into this and why do I claim it can be the ultimate ebook? Because it can be the complete deal. It can not only present valuable information but it can be the center point for your travel experience using the digital world. Let me explain.

Trouble in Paradise

I am a frequent traveler either by car, by bus or by plane. I am not picky. Just say let’s go and I am ready. Hawaii was calling so I started planning for my 10 days in paradise. This should be easy. I went online to purchase a Travel Guide about beautiful Hawaii. I thought an ebook version would be my best alternative, being portable and all. I downloaded a sample and I stopped right there.

As with many ebooks today, this was a very poor reproduction of the paper version. The table of content was one of the very worst I have seen. The book’s price ($12.95) was completely out of the question for what I was getting. So reluctantly I purchased the paper version. ($14.95)

Now I was stuck with over 750 pages of very good information that I could highlight and use to make my plans. As you can see from my picture at the start of this blog, I had no room to pack the guide in my luggage so I had to take a lot of notes.

How could a Travel Guide ebook and an ereader or tablet solve my problems? I started brainstorming how this experience could be improved and this is what I came up with.

The Travel Guide

Let’s start by saying the Travel Guide needs to be a package of information that will guide me through the planning and the sightseeing and leisure time with my being able to control the costs as much as I can.

A travel package, unlike a lot of Google searches, puts all the information and references I need under one roof so to speak or at least on my tablet. I recommend a tablet for convenience and portable and the extra apps benefit.

The author needs to use color pictures to sell his ideas. There is nothing like a gorgeous photo to spur interest in a location.

He should bundle apps with his ebook. Make apps available for the convenience of the reader. The free ones get the most interest.

The Travel Guide should be turned on for Kindle public notes. The author can use this vehicle to update information until the guide can be republished with updated information. Besides it is a good opportunity to hear what reader’s think about the content. In the past I sought used travel guides because former users would usually highlight things they were interested in. Sometimes you could catch a gem like a unique restaurant or night club. Others experiences speak volumes.

Another opportunity is to reference other books in the guide that are about the destination. Throw in a link to a travel game as an incentive to buy.

Paper travel guides have some problems that can be overcome with a well done Travel Guide package. The paper version’s biggest problem of course is the information is cast in concrete. The ebook can solve this problem big time.

Planning the Trip

So the ultimate Travel Guide armed with great descriptive content and color pictures starts the planning process. Now the traveler’s big money decisions need help from the author.

Budgeting and expenses/costs
Displaying a range of prices to assist in the budgeting is a big help. A spreadsheet or a template for tracking the budget is a good giveaway plus you have the opportunity to capture the reader’s name and a communication avenue like the email address.

Planning and Itinerary
The format for a digital plan could be incorporated like the budgeting above.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Now that I am here, how do I get around? Transportation information links can be invaluable for a tourist including subways and trolley data, where needed.

Hotels and Accommodation
A digital matrix of possible selections can help the traveler better organize the trip.

Appointments and Tours
A schedule app can help the reader organize their stay more efficiently. Bundle it in the complete travel package.

Paradise Cove Beach

So I am off to Honolulu armed with the ultimate travel package and a library of ebooks for my reading pleasure. I like the tourist traps so they are highlighted in my Travel Guide and I have added extra notes to jog my memory.

I have all the tools loaded on my tablet that I need to survive the island. But I have more in my package. I have a calendar with the special events I have scheduled like my luau at Paradise Cove, my Island tour and my visit to Pearl Harbor.

I have photo gallery software to keep my pictures organized. I use the tablet camera and note the location and time as I take them. I have software to keep track of the current weather and the forecast. I even have a currency calculator and a language guide loaded which I hope I don’t need.

And for those who enjoy the night life too much and need to ask the question. ‘Where in the world am I?’ I have Google Earth and Maps installed and a GPS locator to help me get back to the hotel.

Back Home at Last

All good things must come to an end. Back home I now have a record of my trip. I can compare my budget to the expenses I have been tracking as well as checking my credit card charges when the bill arrives.

I have a permanent record of the great time I had, all thanks to the Travel Guide package.

So What Makes the Travel Guide the Ultimate eBook?

1. It is a digital package and can be stored on an electronic device for easy carrying.
2. It is convenient and easy to update and add information.
3. If the authors rendering process is complete, the links will be there to access current prices, phone numbers, street addresses and web sites.
4. Turning on public notes can help in the planning as well as a record of the experience.
5. The Travel Guide ebook becomes part of the travel experience. It makes the content unique.

It makes the ebook a total experience not just a reference book.

Other Opportunities

Other opportunities for authors are publishing the Travel Guide in parts, being more specific to a location. I was headed to Oahu and information on the other islands was overkill. A smaller edition about Honolulu would have been just fine.

A frequent traveler may want a special version created for them or maybe a paid serial publication for travel destinations with updated information.

You may even want to include ads specials to various locations and link into affiliate sales to increase revenue.

The author must try to drive the reader to his home website. Updating the information must be an ongoing process. A path for the reader to access updated ebook links is a large opportunity.

We should take lessons from what you can do with a Travel ebook and carry it over to other kinds of ebooks.

You say this is all on the Internet. It is all about time and convenience. A complete package can save the reader hours of surfing and put dollars in his pocket. It would be the ultimate choice.

What do you think about my choice for the ultimate ebook? Can you think of any other candidate for the ultimate award?

Related blogs:
Rendering Your Ebook
Use the Power of Links

View my website: HBSystems Publications
Or EMAIL at:
Author: Call Off The Dogs, a rendered ebook
LinkedIn Profile: James Moushon


  1. This brings up a good opportunity for social media driven travel-related sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor to use their current databases and applications towards an ebook.

  2. So many possibilities! The constant updating is the no.1 selling point of an idea like this, as travel information changes so much and so quickly.

    For my money, the next best feature which could be offered would be a degree of interactivity; if I, as the reader, could provide feedback relevant to the material in the guide, and have it (after being screened) be applied to the next updated edition, rather like comments on a blog. An example being, I just got back from Petra. I had this year's guide book, but the entry fee had leapt up by almost 300% from £20 for 2 days to nearly £50 for one day! I crapped myself, as traveling with my girlfriend and my Mum meant we had to pay this price three times, when we hadn't budgeted for it. It almost stopped us going in, when Petra was the whole reason for us being in Jordan! I'd have loved to upload a warning about this, alerting fellow travelers and the guide's author that there had been a sudden price hike. That way the next person to arrive might not suffer a heart-attack!

  3. robert:
    thanks for the comment. was another site i used for my background for this blog. i think if we had the great content from a good travel guide added to this online info, the ebook results would be very rewarding.

  4. tony:
    thanks for the comment. if we had public notes with monitored opinions added to the ebook, we could have a great source of information for the would be traveler and a great vehicle for the author for repeat business.

  5. If I'm on location on some island, we usually get up at four in the morning to set up. By seven thirty, we're on the beach working until noon, then we rest. It's not exactly a vacation. Flights to Manila

  6. Well written article on how to write travel ebooks.
    I've written one myself about the city I love Rome.
    Can you checkout my free e-book ? link ->

  7. in travel guide there should be a list of beautiful place and you also should mention about expenses and how much secure of the place

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