New Travel Guide Adds GPS Capability
Barbara R ther -- 9/18/00
Partnership between Avalon Travel Publishing and GeoDiscovery hopes to change the face of portable travel information access

A partnership between Avalon Travel Publishing and GeoDiscovery, a high-tech, location-based service business near Salt Lake City, hopes to change the face of portable travel information access.

Avalon, the parent company of Foghorn Outdoor Guides, Moon Guidebooks, Road Trip USA and other travel lines, will join GeoDiscovery in the launch of a new series to be called Foghorn Outdoor E-Guides. The series will debut in Publishers Group West's spring 2001 catalogue. Avalon and PGW are both part of Publishers Group Inc.

The new e-guides will combine the Global Positioning System (GPS) with travel guidebook content on a palm device. The interface is made possible by GeoDiscovery's Geode, a Handspring Visor Springboard module, that allows the user to integrate GPS location info with relevant maps and site descriptions drawn from Foghorn's Outdoor Guides. Users can add their own directions and notes in the field to customize the unit for future trips.

E-guides focusing on wilderness and outdoor areas in California and the Pacific Northwest will be the first titles available. The "geo-encoded" system will initially be available as a download to retail customers via and other e-booksellers and will sell for $14.95. To access the GPS interface, customers need to install Geode on their handheld. The Geode will sell for $249 and will be available from computer retailers later this month. By next year, GeoDiscovery/Avalon hope to make available a disk, containing several e-books per unit, for sale in bookstores.

According to Avalon, the project was a natural way to utilize the comprehensive content database it owns in the outdoor guidebook market. Avalon publisher Bill Newlin told PW the Geode-enabled e-guides are just the beginning; of fundamental importance is the partnership Avalon has established with GeoDiscovery to create database travel content that can be deployed across a variety of formats. The technology GeoDiscovery provides will almost certainly affect the way Avalon g s about planning and implementing its editorial content for both paper and e-books. Plans for an interactive e-book of Road Trip USA is already in the works.

GeoDiscovery hopes to interest other publishers in its platform for authoring and encoding travel information.