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Is it time to say au revoir to Frommer's travel guides?

March 26, 2013|By Hector Tobar
  • Maybe there's cell service at the Eiffel Tower, but what about in the Peruvian jungle? Frommer's might come in handy there.
Maybe there's cell service at the Eiffel Tower, but what about in the… (Bertrand Langlois / AFP/Getty…)

Google may find this hard to believe, but as a seasoned traveler (I was a national and foreign correspondent for a decade) I know this to be true: There are many places in the world where smartphones are useless.

Part of the joy of traveling, in fact, is to go to places where the data stream can’t reach you. Yes, I did get good cellphone service in the jungle city of Iquitos, Peru, but wander a few miles down the Amazon and it fades away. Even now, a map of the cellphone service in the U.S. shows you’re in trouble not long after your car leaves Flagstaff, Ariz., or El Paso, Texas.

So it’s a bit dismaying to learn that Google, which has purchased the Frommer’s travel book series, is going to cease print publication of said series. All that great Frommer’s travel advice, it seems, will be offered electronically instead, as reported by Jason Clampet at Skift.com

“Starting with 'Frommer’s New York City With Kids' the entire future list of Frommer’s titles will not see the light of day,” Clampet writes. “Many of the authors attached to these 29 titles told Skift that they were informed by editors now working at Google that the books would not publish.”

Writing in Time, Harry McCracken does not lament the imminent passing of Frommer's in print. But he does note that very often the best travel apps are lacking, as he learned during a recent visit to Scandinavia.

“As far as I can tell, apps and the Internet haven’t actually managed to improve upon the best travel books,” he writes. “I used several iPhone apps while I was in Sweden, but it’s possible I would have been better off toting a copy of Frommer’s Stockholm.”

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hector.tobar@latimes.com

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