Monday, July 04, 2005

To LP (Lonely Planet) or not to LP?

I'm not usually a brand junkie, but an exception is proven by my thirty-strong collection of Lonely Planet guidebooks. I've relied on them to find me a place to sleep, a way to get there and things to keep me busy the next day, as well as using the history and culture sections as reading material on bus and train journeys.

But as even the founding Wheelers seem to admit (see this fascinating article in the New Yorker), LP's focus has been changing and they seem to be trying to be all things for all people. Although I'm happy that an Aussie company is so successful, a change might be in the air for me, too. In planning for our trip to Namibia, the lack of a recent LP guide focused only on Namibia led me to buy a rival Bradt guide. I get the feeling that Bradt's thinking is still where Lonely Planet's started: a grass roots approach based on a love of the destination rather than its marketing potential. I guess our road test of the Namibia guide in September could tip me one way or the other.

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