Thursday, February 2, 2006

A History of Travel Guidebooks (Part Two)

Guidebooks Galore

Here's another story about the history of travel guidebooks as published recently in the Sydney Morning Herald, which takes a more classic approach to the craft, but also points out the changing styles between the original favorites and newer updates from Lonely Planet and other "travellers" guides. At the bottom, an interesting list of the best selling travel guidebooks in Australia.

Published by John Murray, it would be the pioneer title of one the world's first great guidebook empires, Murray's Handbooks, which would eventually publish about 400 titles. Its exhaustive, two-volume 1845 Handbook for Travellers in Spain, written by Richard Ford after four years of research and a decade of writing, is the classic among guidebooks.

Karl Baedeker is said to have written his first guidebook - Holland, Belgium and the Rhine - for Murray's Handbooks, but in 1829, with the publication of Baedeker's German-language guide to the Rhine Valley, he also became its first competition. Guidebooks to Austria, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland followed, and by 1861, two years after Karl's death, Baedeker was publishing English-language guides.

Baedeker created a guidebook template that has barely wavered in almost two centuries. The books were saturated in tourist sights but also offered guidance on pragmatic details such as money, language, visas, best seasons to visit, transport options and recommended hotels and restaurants.

Sydney Morning Herald Link

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