Do you remember when everyone you met whilst backpacking always carried with them a guide book. I even did it myself. The only option was to decide which book suited you the most. The guide book was an essential piece of hand luggage and pretty much helped backpackers to see the world, partly because at that point people only really went online to email home.
If anything some backpackers were accused of clinging to the guide book too much (make sure you read Mick Bates article) but now if you sit in a coffee shop or hostel tv room, do you see people reading a guide book or do you see people checking in to their netbooks?
So technology is changing/dictating our lives in general. We can read magazines online and even download applications to access an e-library and now we can access destination guides online. Everything we want to know about a place can easily be viewed and returned to at any moment in time, is updated regularly and can be accessed completely for free. Chances are that the online destination you have chosen to look at knows of an excellent accommodation provider, travel agent or transport provider that is simply the click of a button away.
Online destination guides just seem to make life so much easier. So it isn't really looking so good for the good old fashioned book is it? It is a difficult situation. Why would you pay money for something you can get for free? Backpackers are often on a budget, even travellers who have saved and saved will still ultimately opt for a cheaper alternative and consider a free option to be what Hugh Jackman painted purple is to me - almost too good to be true.
I don't think we can write off guide books completely though. In comparison to many online destination guides, they are without question, thorough. They are also unbiassed and offer a range of options. Guide books also provide detailed information of those random places many haven't heard of rather than the obvious places to visit on the tourist trail.
Guide books are also something of a comfort blanket - what if you aren't near any internet? I have to be honest, there is something nostalgic about seeing a backpacker sat with a beer reading over their guide book. Then there are the travel blogs, more than are humanly possible to read through. My dad has actually made reading travel reviews a hobby spending an evening reading reviews with a glass of wine, and I have to admit it does get quite addictive, the reading reviews not the wine.
With so many opinions and options, maybe that's why guide books are still going strong. You get all your information in one place and it takes out the stress of constant searching. However, surely it won't be long before online destination guides become one stop travel shops being both in-depth and efficient. The argument swings both ways and will more than likely come down to an individual's preference and personality.
As online destination guides become more and more popular only time will tell whether or not the guide book will become one of those vague memories of the past. However, we would live to hear your opinion, do you still consider the guide book an important travel tool or have you replaced it with your trusty laptop?
Thanks to ivebeenthere.co.uk for image