Take a Trip to the Travel Guide Section of Your Library

By Paul Duckworth

Travel among Americans continues to be popular despite economic and security concerns, and a guidebook or two frequently comes along. Although tropical islands or European cities may beckon, only 13% of us ventured beyond the U.S. in our travels this year. States with the highest projected visits are California, followed by Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Nevada. Mexico is by far the most popular international destination, followed by Canada, and at a distant third, Britain. 

An emerging trend is that more American travelers are seniors. Another development is the growing number of families participating in multigenerational travel (trips including three+ generations). Looking ahead, industry forecasters see increased marketing to the millennials in the next five years. 

How does this affect public library checkouts?  Library Journal’s 2015 Materials Survey found that 30% of public libraries rank travel books among their top five areas of circulation.  Despite dramatic growth in smartphone and tablet apps, the printed travel guide enjoys strong demand—for good reason.  Longtime New York Times staffer Bob Tedeschi wrote in his “Personal Tech” column, “As with so many smartphone apps, it is tempting to look at the current spate of mobile travel guides and proclaim the end of their paper counterparts….  But to borrow a phrase often delivered to impatient travelers, we’re not there yet.” 

Tedeschi lists some of the issues with smartphone apps, notes there are fewer with travel apps on tablets, and weighs in with his personal opinion that “I have often found myself ignoring the smartphone while sightseeing. It can be frustrating to repeatedly open an app and navigate an unknown amount of content, often in an unfamiliar format. A book with a dog-eared page, meanwhile, offers instant gratification and gets a traveler back to sightseeing much more quickly.”

While titles from Fodor’s are familiar, there is an increasing selection of alternative choices that offer tips on how to travel “Off the Beaten Path” across our “Lonely Planet,” enjoying “Fun With the Family,” adventuring with a “Rough Guide,” finding “Eyewitness” experiences and “Great Destinations,” whether on “Day Trips” or extended journeys to “1001 Places You Must See Before You Die.” Amazing—what an incredible variety of guidebook choices—something for everyone!  Regardless of your patron’s needs and preferences, the invitation is “Let’s Go!”

Receive your travel guides automatically through Brodart’s Standing Order Program, Continuations, or purchase them on your own through your Brodart Books Account.