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Have you taken your guidebooks in electronic form on your e-reader?

Have you taken your guidebooks in electronic form on your e-reader?

Nov 23rd, 2011, 05:19 AM
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Have you taken your guidebooks in electronic form on your e-reader?

I've got a Nook Color and my husband has a Kindle Fire. This is the first time since purchasing them that we'll be traveling and need a guidebook (or two) for our trip. I love my Nook for reading while away from home as it eliminates the need to carry lots of books and I've taken it on trips where I didn't need a guidebook, but I am wondering how people like using e-readers for travel guidebooks. I've always thought this would be fabulous because it would eliminate so much weight and bulk, but a friend recently told me she'd found she didn't like using the e-reader for guidebooks while traveling because it made the book so much harder to use.

What has been your experience? Thanks.
julies is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 05:50 AM
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Absolutely useless.

Not just ebooks, but any form of electronics

Travelling anywhere interesting is all about chance discoveries (why's the British royal coat of arms over the locked entrance to a chapel in Santa Maria in Trastevere? What's the philological link between Ionic Greek and the obviously different, but clearly slightly related,language used on most classical inscriptions in SW Turkey? Above all: what's the history of this church in La France Profonde there's signs to all over the department, but not a bloody word at the church itself?)

You just can't search properly on a Kindle. Try googling on a smartphone, and middle aged fatfinger steps in, making what'd take two seconds on the desktop take the best part of an hour. Take my tablet (a Windows version, because I need a decent keyboard and adequate USB ports), and it's so damn clunky for this kind of manipulation you might as well use a real book.

So the car's got a bigger library than most UK households. Even if we're flying (well: you can always pack fewer clothes, but you can never have enough guidebooks). And we still spend most evenings googling what we've just seen, using the tablet's keyboard. If in a remote village, we've got to go into a town with an internet cafe to check it all out before supper.

There's a fortune for someone cracking this problem. Meanwhile: trees are a renewable resource. The rare earths in the fancy electronics we lug round aren't.

Books are ALWAYS the greener option.
flanneruk is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 05:51 AM
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This is actually an interesting question that I've long thought about. As an editor here, I have some of my own biased opinions in that I don't think most guidebooks work well in the e-book format. The information isn't nearly as accessible through the index (it's very balky to find a specific sight, restaurant, or other business on most devices).

Apps work better since they can have better navigation, but they are also less widely available.

And maps just aren't working well on these devices yet. Dynamic maps (like Google Maps) require high-bandwidth and aren't always accurate. Regular maps aren't always readable. You probably won't want to walk around with your ipad or Kindle Fire all the time; it's both a practical and safety concern, but a phone is also not always conducive to browsing content easily.

As a traveler (and perhaps as an editor), I just have a bias towards books. I took a PDF of several chapters of our India book on trip to India last year, and it was somewhat helpful, though not on a day to day basis. And I've used some NYC apps, some of which are good, some of which aren't.

So I agree that you can save weight by taking an ebook. I, for example, often buy Random House ebooks for full price even though as an employee I can get discounted regular books from Random House anytime I want. But I still prefer to carry a printed guidebook.

FYI: You might get more responses for this thread if you re-post in the Lounge.
doug_stallings is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 05:55 AM
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I took my Kindle along on our recent trip to Scotland and London, and felt it worked well.

I loaded a few guidebooks on it, in addition to lists and itinerarys of my own that I PDFed. I also loaded some PDFs from websites, such as the London Walks brochure. I found it fairly easy to do searches in the guidebooks, plus it isn't as obviously "touristy" to be looking at a tablet/eReader instead of a guidebook. Much lighter to carry, too.

elberko is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 05:58 AM
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Mind you....

Because you've got all your light reading on the Kindle, and loaded it up with a few dozen extra books you've always meant to read, you don't need to lug ordinary books around. So you've got lots of room in your luggage or the car's bookshelf for even more guidebooks.
flanneruk is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 06:46 AM
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I don't use guidebooks much while traveling. I've usually already researched and know pretty much where I'm going and what are the sights to see. (Always more sights than we have time for.) It is nice to have the Internet to look up and double-check the opening hours of specific sights. (And also check for strikes.)

Back on the Kindle, I have used both a English-whatever and a whatever-English dictionary -- 2 separate purchases. And a dictionary of French gastronomic terms, which I used right there at the table with the open menu. Rick Steves' guidebooks seem to work pretty well on-Kindle, especially for practical information like locations of laundromats.

But mostly I use the Kindle for personal reading. I used to take 7 or 8 paperbacks tucked into my luggage. Which always earned my bag a closer inspection. Like they thought those square shapes were packages of explosive.

Of course, now I must protect the Kindle. And lug another cable for recharging.
Mimar is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 07:22 AM
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I downloaded guidebooks for my last 3 week in UK, (3 days) and then Istanbul and a cruise among the Greek Islands. Fortunately, I tried to use the books for some planning while on the flight to London. That gave me the opportunity to purchase copies of the essential books in London. Perhaps that is a reflection on my lack of skill in using the e-reader. Nonetheless, I will use paper copies of guidebooks in the future.
Jeff801 is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 11:28 AM
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It is sounding as though the tried and true hard copy might be the way to go. We always drag along a guidebook when we are out for the day, and it probably will still be a hard copy rather than an e-book. Thanks for the feedback.
julies is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 11:46 AM
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I haven't had good luck with eBook guides either. I like to flip back and forth in my guidebooks, consult the maps, etc. In eBook format it is just clunky. I'm sure the technology will improve, but I don't think it is there yet.
november_moon is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 12:00 PM
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It depends on your usage model. For what and where you intend to use them.

For outdoor usage, the device needs to be smaller AND needs to be e-ink based. Even though I researched the guidebook beforehand, I found myself ahead of the plan and needed to look up info about a museum. The LCD screen on my phone was unreadable in daylight, I had to whip out the e-ink Kindle out of my daypack. My device was 7". I wish there is an e-ink 5" model. The ease of use depends totally on how publishers implemented the ebook version.

For carrying around books to read on plane, train, etc, it drastically reduced the weight and the volume. I see many people reading thick hardcover books on planes. I can't imagine giving up that much luggage space. Kindle uses the same USB charger with a micro tip as my phone. Additional benefit was when I finished reading all the paperbacks I brought. Before Kindle, the selection of English reading materials abroad were limited and expensive. With Kindle, I have access to all the ebooks on the Amazon web site.

The maps on ebook guidebooks I have used have not been implemented well. Zooming and panning capabilities are too primitive or nonexistent.
greg is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 12:06 PM
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This is a really interesting discussion as we contemplate taking the e-reader leap.

If I can extend the discussion a bit, it seems that the situation is similar to media players: you can get your whole collection onto a device but the quality of the experience is not as good. I do, however, listen to a Maria Callas opera each way on the plane to Europe, and it might be interesting to take up the suggestion here by flanneruk and others to take the general reading on the reader but haul the guidebook. I think I might take something related to the destination, say "A Room with a View" for Florence or Mar McCarthy or Ruskin on Venice.

Basically, what Doug writes seems very sensible to me.
Ackislander is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 12:18 PM
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I like downloading the entire e-book and then printing the pieces that we might need. It's almost always cheaper to buy the entire book rather than individual pieces. I stuff the info for the destinations du jour into a purse or backpack and still have an intact version on my computer for later reference. Throw away chapters as you go.
Marija is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 01:32 PM
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Yes, but unless you're printing it out at work, you might be surprised at how expensive printing at home rally is. That's a hidden cost with this method.
doug_stallings is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 01:56 PM
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A cheap monochrome Office Laser printer costs about 2 cents per text page for toner, 6 cents for graphics. Not too bad for the convenience, especially since there's a lot of stuff you don't need to print, eg. hotels, if you've reserved in advance, general overview stuff, indices, TOCs etc.
Marija is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 02:28 PM
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After way too much analysis of my library usage (which I tend to do instead of buying books), use on vacation and use of guidebooks on an e-reader, I got a Nook several months ago.

We took the Nook with us to Spain, and where we primarily used it (other than me reading my various "regular" books) was AT or IN attractions, where I would read out loud to our family group about whatever we were there to see. About the same as I've done with actual books in the past.

I agree that the maps on ebooks are pretty much useless, but we rarely use maps in books anyway. I also didn't use the hotel or restaurant information either, as we'd book our lodging ahead of time and I prepare my own info on food and restaurants. I did load pdfs of my trip notes onto my Nook, but never looked at them, instead referring to the pages of my notes that I'd printed out. But the pdfs were there really as a backup, anyway.

It's not as easy to flip through an ebook, but I found that between using the chapter feature and the pages that I'd bookmarked ahead of time, it worked well enough.

Another issue is that I tend to prefer more specialized guidebooks for specific museums and places, such as the Blue Guides (especially good for Italy), and the Cadogan guides. Neither of those are available (yet) as ebooks. Come to think of it, because I'm very detail-oriented in museums, I should see if museums have downloadable guides. That would be perfect, because those museum guides are heavy!

Do a trial run for your next trip - load one guidebook onto your ereader, take one or two hard copy guidebooks, and see how it all works for you. It's not an all-or-nothing decision!
Lexma90 is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 02:43 PM
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"It's not an all-or-nothing decision!"

Exactly. I did both and barely looked at the regular guidebook, but others obviously didn't find their eReaders easy to use. We had paper maps, so didn't use ones in the ebook.

elberko is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 03:08 PM
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I love my Nook, but like November_Moon I found it frustrating with guidebooks. I'm also a heavy Google Maps user at home, but on a trip I found it so much easier to use a paper map--where I would get the big picture and the lay of the land much better.
PegS is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 04:02 PM
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Well, you can add me to the frustrated crowd in using guide books on my iPad. I tried to do this on our recent trip to France, but found the two I had downloaded in to iBooks, to be very difficult to use.

Guidebooks I guess are better for research prior to the trip. But some days I wished I had the actual book, to look up something specific. I thought perhaps it was my lack of skills using iPad guide books, so I am somewhat gratified by the other comments here.

I do heartily recommend certain apps for Paris, and France, but esp. the rtap app for my iPad and for iPhone (used only with WiFi) thru which you can get a destination plan for any Metro trip from point to point. I found it incredibly helpful!!
taconictraveler is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 04:07 PM
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Like others I found the e-reader great for novels, historical reference books etc but absolutely hopeless for guidebooks. A waste of money in my opinion.
I generally do a lot of research ahead of time and make notes which I take with me and then maybe a couple of the smaller guidebooks and paper maps.
raincitygirl is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2011, 04:58 PM
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I sampled a guidebook on my Nook Color before a recent trip and decided it wouldn't be particularly helpful on the go, so I took one guidebook and several maps.

I did download driving instructions and walking tours which proved to be very helpful. I also loaded a pdf containing our hotel/tour/car rental confirmations, some train timetables, airline e-ticket info, a few restaurant recommendations, etc., which cut down on a lot of paper.
Jean is offline  

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