Lonely Planet celebrates its 35th Anniversary

One of the most respected names in travel publishing celebrated its 35th anniversary earlier this year — Lonely Planet, which also claims to be the largest independently owned travel guidebook publisher in the world.

The company was founded by Tony Wheeler, who also wrote the company’s first book entitled Asia on the Cheap. Today, the company publishes guidebooks to just about everywhere in the world, including such exotic and far away places as Madagascar, Bhutan, Greenland, Yemen and the Pitcairn Islands. They also publish a book on self-proclaimed “micro-nations” such as Sealand.

Another well known publisher of guide books celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007 — a lot has changed since Frommer’s published Europe on $5 a Day — not least the fact that many of the places considered “exotic” back then are now within easy reach of many more people. And $5 a day may get you a cup of coffee in Europe today, but not much else!

Although there seems to be a shortage of good travel shows on American TV there is no shortage of travel guide books. A quick look in the travel section of my local Barnes and Noble reveals an almost overwhelming choice of titles.

If you are planning a trip to popular destinations such as Disney World, New York, Paris or London, there are at least 20 books on each of these places to choose from, including books that specialize in shopping, cheap accommodation, traveling with kids, gay travel, or student travel. There’s even a guidebook to the Paris cemeteries. Perhaps a guidebook to the guidebooks would be a good idea!

If you really enjoy choosing a travel guidebook, head to Stanford’s Map and Travel bookshop in London, which claims to be the world’s largest such store and has been around for over 150 years. You can also order from Stanford’s on line — but it isn’t quite the same as spending several happy hours browsing in the store and poring over maps of far away places.

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