Every year it gets a little easier to go places, and our collective wanderlust grows a little more keen. But the Earth, that uncooperative rotating rock, never gets any bigger—so how do publishers show travelers something new? This season’s offerings reflect the rise of the sharing economy, last-minute travel, and other changes to the ways people explore the world.
One signifier of the next generation of travelers: Andy Steves, son of powerhouse guidebook author Rick Steves, will publish his first book, Andy Steves’ Europe: City Hopping on a Budget (Avalon), in June. In it, the author, who is in his mid-20s and operates the travel company Weekend Student Adventures, relays tips for taking three-day trips to 13 European cities.
Kevin McClain, v-p of editorial at Avalon, says the book showcases “what people in their 20s want to see when they go to Europe, and how they travel differently,” with information on last-minute planning, hostels, Wi-Fi connections, all-night dance clubs, and budget-friendly food options.
The elder Steves begins a new series, Best Of, with Avalon in April. The first books—guides to Spain, Italy, Ireland, and France—will be published through July and suggest seven- to 12-day trips. McClain says that whereas more traditional titles such as Rick Steves Italy “are very dense, have a ton of information, and are for people who want to study up on Europe and plan the ultimate trip,” the Best Of guides are aimed at readers “who maybe don’t have the time to do that sort of planning.”
Avalon’s decision to offer condensed guides, McClain says, reflects “the way people are traveling now.” Travelers are “more spontaneous and spur-of-the-moment. Rather than planning out an itinerary three months in advance, they’ll take the book with them on the plane and figure out what they need to do when they land.”
Also in the hit-the-highlights spirit, DK is relaunching its Top 10 books, beginning with guides to London; Barcelona; Paris; Rio de Janeiro; Washington, D.C.; New York City; Iceland; San Francisco; Rome; and Berlin, all of which pubbed in February, with more updates planned through 2018.
Travel publishing director Georgina Dee says DK’s revamp includes a cleaner design, new photography, and new editorial features, such as sections devoted to free and offbeat attractions. The timing of the relaunch, she says, reflects an uptick in city tourism as a result, in part, of the “boom in non-hotel accommodations like apartment rentals, and an increase in travelers planning shorter trips to more and more destinations.”
Rutgers University Press, whose travel books typically focus on the Garden State, has been expanding into the Empire State. In May, the press is publishing The Brooklyn Experience: The Ultimate Guide to Neighborhoods & Noshes, Culture & the Cutting Edge by Ellen Freudenheim, a pioneer in Brooklyn guidebooks; St. Martin’s published three editions of an earlier Freudenheim title, Brooklyn!, beginning in 1991. The new title features a foreword by Brooklyn Brewery cofounder Steve Hindy and includes commentary and essays from the borough’s chefs, artists, and entrepreneurs.
Lonely Planet’s new Blow Your Mind series launches this May with 50-item guides to bars, beaches, and museums. “Blow Your Mind titles are primarily for entertainment,” says associate publisher Robin Barton, though they do contain practical travel advice. “The tone of the write-ups is slightly tongue-in-cheek and irreverent. We didn’t shy away from being opinionated.”
For instance, 50 Bars to Blow Your Mind opens a review of a Buenos Aires bar with “Please, no, not another speakeasy!” The publisher plans to expand the series in 2017, with books focusing on festivals, places to stay, and natural wonders.