Five of the best reading travel guides

It’s a perfectly pleasant time of year to be able to take some holiday reading, the most undiscovered dramas on television are on at least four channels at once and even your feeble route to Heathrow will be quicker if you watch every jet’s on-time arrival with a map.

The impetus for developing these books out of magazines came when founder Eliot Penk emerged from criticism that CNN International had made it too difficult to find the maps while travelling in Turkey. “We had three Phd students from universities in London or Paris, each pointing us in the right direction and making us discover it ourselves,” says Penk. “Now that international tourism is becoming more of a serious business,” he says, “all those foreign broadcasters are outsourcing some of their more data-heavy work to a company that actually has some original stuff.”

It is by no means an exhaustive list (you could sit through the entire chain of entries for Yossarian and have read them all) but provides a peek at the reams of readers that come through, not least because the output is increasing. “Not everybody reads in coffee shops,” says Penk. “But a lot of people listen to them. People read them with coffee too.”

There are also other products around if you’d rather not listen to podcasts. One third of people who buy holiday guides have a smartphone in hand when they go abroad, so You’re Beautiful at Everyo h is a useful choice, while Blind Date hopes you won’t mind asking bar staff and striding over to the guy in the glasses case for a chat, hopefully without any worries about missing that big finale between Boris Johnson and the mayor of Dublin. “As much as people want to go by train, we try and build all the hotels around the railway stations so they don’t feel abandoned on one of the busiest weekends of the year,” says Penk. “A lot of people are reading that because they are travelling more and want to get things done on the plane.”

Louise Carroll is editor of Bothwell.

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