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October 26, 2000|David Colker

Booktailor Travel Guide

* What it does: Creates customized travel guides

* Price: $15 to $50, depending on size of book

* Manufacturer: Booktailor (http://www.booktailor.com)

* Niche: Travelers tired of hauling heavy travel guides while visiting France, Italy, Spain and Britain. The Booktailor Web site allows you to pick chapters from various travel guide publishers with which it has agreements-- ranging from the well-known Frommer's, Lonely Planet and Insight guides to the more obscure Charming Small Hotels--and put together a book customized to just those places you plan to visit.

* The good: Not only is it a great idea, but the resulting book sent--from London--to the buyer is also nicely printed on quality paper. For an imaginary trip to Tuscany, I chose to receive information on history, art, architecture, food, accommodations, entertainment and outdoor activities from numerous sources. My customized book came to 277 pages, including index--far smaller than the numerous guides involved.

* The bad: The book includes no graphics or maps, which of course are quite handy when traveling in a foreign country. The index is frustrating--it points you to the chapter a topic is in but not to the exact page. And finally, a strictly customized guide hinders spontaneity while traveling. I would still carry a general travel guide to an area, just in case I decide to strike out in an unexpected direction.

* Bottom line: Probably a pass for now, but as the number of countries covered by this service increases, it could become more useful.

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