The first tourist guides, as we know them today, emerged in the early xix th century in England and Germany : Reichard guide from 1784, guide Rheinreise in 1828 by Karl Baedeker ( 1801 – 1859 ), guides Murray from 1836 to 1901 . An academic conference in 1998, undertook a review of the production of printed guides the xvi th to the xx th century 1 .
In France , the first great collection of tourist guides was the Guides Joanne , who later became the Guides Bleus (Hachette).
The development of automobile tourism prompted Michelin to become a publisher of maps and tourist guides. His Green Guides , which appeared after the First World War , are still published. The Green Guides have evolved a lot: less elongated format, larger color illustration, more lively writing, magazine type. They include an important mapping, very readable, and many plans. It is the oldest collection of French guides, born in the 1930s, which today remains very alive, with a very extensive catalog that seems able to take up the challenge of the Internet and defends at the beginning of the xxi th century formula of the travel guide “
With the development of tourism from the 1950s onwards, there were a large number of collections of guides, which underwent great development but did not survive, such as: Guides Odé , Guides Nagel , guidebooks.
Other guides, more or less making room for selections of hotels and restaurants, have appeared since the 1970s . Some of them receive publicity, which may be solicited from institutions (tourism boards, tourist offices), which does not lead to criticism. Several collections of guides have had an important place on the shelves of bookshops; Some competing more or less with the blue guides, such as the Fodor Guides , others playing early illustration, in the early 1970s, like the Guides Today of the group Jeune Afrique – Jaguar editions, translated for the most part into several Languages (regions of France, countries of Europe, Africa).
The Lonely Planet Guide , launched in the same year as the Australian Lonely Planet, adapts to the evolution of its clientele, which is in principle young, not very fortunate and curious, has an important place: this collection is a long-lasting and notorious success.
The Guides du Livre de Poche , launched by Bernard de Fallois and directed by Jacques-Louis Delpal , in collaboration with the Guides Bleus, were the subject of large circulation in the 1970s. The difficulty of updating these copious works, Sold at low prices, and the cost price of unpublished works resulted in the collection being stopped around 1980.
Pierre Marchand , who founded the Jeunesse de Gallimard department and launched the Découvertes collection, became interested in tourist guides, drawing inspiration from a few American examples.
Nathan, before refocusing on the school, played the map of highly illustrated cultural guides (Guides colors Delpal) , some of which were reissued under Minerva label. Many regional publishers have published guides, such as Alsatia, Aubanel and Édud. The works published under the West-France label have long since passed the limits of Brittany.
The Lonely Planet guides were launched in 1973. They are now available only to Anglophones and are increasingly being translated, as are the Let’s Go (Dakota editions) guides originally written by the Harvard Student Agency. These two guides show the current prices of hotels and restaurants.
The cost of upgrades is considerable. It explains the final failure of collections whose titles were selling well, but whose success did not allow to finance serious updates. A well-designed and documented guide can “hold” for several years, except for major political upheavals in the countries described, but precisely accurately reported price changes, changes in telephone numbers, electronic site labels, Make them quickly age – and browsing the net allows checks even before being on the spot.
On the other hand, today’s readers struggle more than tourists in the past to read hearty books. They want illustrations, frames and off-text to “zap”. The Blue Guides , scholars often austere and well documented from the mid xx th century, no longer correspond to the expectation of tourist rush. In adapting, they have known for the moment, the challenge.
One can also discuss the competence of many investigators-editors, often freelancers, not necessarily great connoisseurs of the countries they describe. As well as a possible “venality” (in fact: elevator referrals), explained in large part by the impossibility of being reimbursed the expenses that should normally be incurred. The correction work, well done in the case of the Green Guides, is often sloppy.
At present, considering the cost of printing, photographic rights and the price of good cartography, it is difficult to conceive serious collections that are not amortized by editions in several languages. If possible, quasi simultaneous, to avoid translation when things have already changed. This sometimes requires adaptation: the interests of tourists are more or less dissimilar according to their culture of origin, the length of the text varies (it will be much longer in German than in French, for example). Problems with the initial layout, especially when the book is abundantly illustrated.
- Electronic Publishing
New forms of fully digital travel guides are also being developed, in the form of online collaborative guides built on the principle of Web 2.0 , audioguides or guides for mobile devices or GPS . The emergence of electronic travel guides has created two currents in terms of content: content from “experts” (online editions of traditional paper guides or travel specialists) and user generated content (ratings, Articles). One can think of among others to TripAdvisor or to Lonely Planet.