In its first major redesign since the series was launched in 1993, DK’s Eyewitness Travel Guides are being revamped for the digital age. Ten guides with new photography and content, as well as layouts and itineraries, will be released on October 2; another 34 will be rolled out in 2019. DK announced the relaunch at BookExpo today.
The Eyewitness relaunch follows a year of intensive consumer research by the U.K. and Delhi-based unit of DK, a division of Penguin Random House. “We wanted to look at reimagining our entire strategy,” says DK Travel publisher Georgina Dee, who began the effort by convening an in-house team dedicated to the redesign. A market research firm was brought in to survey readers.
Based on the firm’s review, Dee and her team decided which parts of the series to change or keep. Some elements of the earlier editions were preserved, including the use of hand drawings of monuments and important sites.
Among the changes was making the guides more portable. They will now be available in paperback with French flaps and printed on lighter-weight paper. Recommendations for restaurants and hotels have been moved from the back into the sections about places to visit, and the opening passages have been reconceptualized.
In part, the changes are a response to the way people find information in a digital era. With certain brass-tacks elements of travel now firmly covered on the internet, the redesign focused on, “giving [readers] insider information they wouldn’t have found out in the first place,” says Dee.
Along with specific destinations, that means providing short historical time lines and cutaways that readers can use during their travels in ways that are more convenient than the deluge of information they might otherwise encounter on the internet.
As part of the process, all of the photography was updated. “We didn’t need to necessarily show what everything looked like anymore,” says Dee, “but we wanted to make sure we captured what [a place] feels like.”
Capturing the feeling of a trip in the guides is something that Dee hopes will make them stand out before and after people travel. In a digital world, she says, “you don’t really get a physical manifestation of your trip. Sometimes a guide is the first thing you can touch that says you are going there. I really think that is an important part [of the relaunch]. It needs to be worthy of that.”