/ BMC guide book V Rockfax which one prefered any advice

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drsdave - on 06 Aug 2013
Hi just wondering which book publisher people prefer/advise, any suggestions welcome thank you
Malt_Loaf - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave: I love the Rockfax guidebooks; clearly and concise with nice photos/topos and I like the added info, e.g. the little symbols to show weather it's fingery/strenuous/scary etc
a lakeland climber on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave:

The literate prefer the BMC, FRCC, CC, etc. guides, the comic book generation prefer Rockfax :-))

ALC

Runs and dons fire retardant suit!
JoshOvki on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave:

I am also a fan on the rockfax books but would rather have both. Rockfax for finding out where you are on the crag, then a second complete guidebook to find all the climbs that are not listed.
Ramblin dave - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave:
Varies from book to book. I'm happy to have the Rockfax South West Climbs because it saves me buying about half a dozen definitives, some of which are a bit, er, traditionalist, for areas that I only go to about once a year at most. On the other hand, the BMC definitives for areas you go to a lot can give you more stuff to go at and normally have a bit more interesting history and background reading than the Rockfax books.
andyathome - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave:
For me BMC (or FRCC or CC etc etc) every time. IF you want comprehensive cover with quite a bit of interesting reading. And it might depend where in the country you are talking about!

If you like pictures with lines on then go Rockfax. Just a shame their coverage is so limited isn't it...?
drsdave - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to andyathome: thanks

d
drsdave - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to andyathome:

thanks

d
drsdave - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:

thanks
d
drsdave - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to JoshOvki:
thanks

d
drsdave - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to a lakeland climber:
thanks

d
drsdave - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to andyathome:
thanks

d
drsdave - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to andyathome:
thanks

d
dr_botnik - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave: The BMC books are definitive and therefore include all the lines/variants of problems. Rockfax often miss out some gems in order to cover a wider area. Some people prefer having a briefer guide to cover a larger area... Guaranteed these people always ask to look at my BMC guide at the crag though ;)

Also; I don't know if its just personal preference, but I seem to agree more with the BMC guides grades and also find the descriptions more literate and witty. If you can't understand sentences, rockfax does come with little symbols to help you (sic)
mattrm - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave:

I had a Rockfax guidebook. Sold it. I still have a number of CC and BMC guidebooks, which I haven't sold.
Mick Ward - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to a lakeland climber:

> The literate prefer the BMC, FRCC, CC, etc. guides, the comic book generation prefer Rockfax :-))

Hmm... Desperate Dan, Lord Snooty (and his friends), Dennis the Menace (and Gnasher), et al, exercised an influence on me long before Wittgenstein. So it may come as no surprise that I quite like Rockfax. It seems to have dragged guidebook writing from the 19th century to the 21st.

Mick

Mark Collins - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave: Rockfax changed the World of guidebooks and everyone else followed suit, including the BMC. It wasn't really an option if they wanted to stay in the race. That said, I think the BMC have improved on Rockfax. However, as they both provide different things there is room on the shelf for both.
Simon Caldwell - on 07 Aug 2013
In reply to dr_botnik:
> The BMC books are definitive and therefore include all the lines/variants of problems.

The BMC books are almost definitive and include most of the lines/variants of problems. Some crags and buttresses are omitted, but are normally made available as downloads. Some routes/variants are also omitted, generally contrived ones and usually mentioned with a general 'can be climbed anywhere' type remark.

I can't understand those who claim Rockfax guides are just lines on topos - they're full of dry humour. They also started the recent trend of including FA information along with the route descriptions, rather than hiding it at the back of the book.

> I seem to agree more with the BMC guides grades

Even in the pre-Rockfax era when grades (and route descriptions) were just copied from the previous edition, with little attempt to correct long-standing errors? It's only in recent years that any serious attempt has been made to sort these sandbags (and soft touches) out. Rockfax set that particularly ball rolling as well.
Simon Caldwell - on 07 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave:

In theory, I'd go for Rockfax in an area I don't visit often, and the "definitive" guides in my local areas.

In practice, I end up buying pretty much everything available :-)
Offwidth - on 07 Aug 2013
In reply to Mark Collins:

Rockfax copied trends elsewhere. They changed UK guidebook production, not the world. I have both sets to most areas I climb regularly and like both but use and read the definitives most often.
Offwidth - on 07 Aug 2013
In reply to Toreador:

You beat me too it on those points. Rockfax guides are often well written with some good dry humour (just not leading edge in this).

No definitive guides include every claimed line and some even miss whole minor crags.

Rockfax did set up a grade voting system to improve grade accuracy which shook things up nicely, I just dont think it ever worked properly where it was needed most (where grades were most wrong) and the definitives are again leading on this. The database recording lines with comments and ascent logging I think are far more important services to climbing.
Michael Ryan - on 07 Aug 2013

In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Mark Collins)
>
> Rockfax copied trends elsewhere. They changed UK guidebook production, not the world.

The initial Rockfax guides (early 90's) featured:

large format
photo-topos or photo-diagrams with route information on the same page
first ascent information next to the route description
Crag Information or Summary Tables
Clear directions and crag maps
Fun route and crag symbols
Cartoons

Rockfax were also an early adopters of desktop publishing in 1990 using Apple Macs and programs such as Photoshop, Freehand, Quark etc

And yes, Rockfax have been influential in the evolution of guidebook production globally as well as in the UK.

Since then Rockfax have been early adopters of all kinds of technology, book production and route information compilation.

It took a hell of a long time for others to catch up. But they did. There are all kinds of great guidebooks out there.

Mick
Ramblin dave - on 07 Aug 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Toreador)
>
> You beat me too it on those points. Rockfax guides are often well written with some good dry humour (just not leading edge in this).

Yes, agree with this, there's plenty of personality and humour in the route and crag descriptions in the Rockfax books I've got.

Where the best definitive guides really score is in the sense of the history and culture of climbing in the area that they give you. Although even then I get the impression from the small number of older definitive guides that I've got that they've really started to make more of this recently, presumably partly to give themselves a USP over Rockfax guides.
Mark Collins - on 07 Aug 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Mark Collins)
>
> ...They changed UK guidebook production, not the world...

As the context of this forum is UKC, i.e. the World of UK Climbing I'd kind of assumed everyone was on the same page ;-)
Offwidth - on 07 Aug 2013
In reply to Mark Collins: UKC have gone well beyond the UK ... another plus point and area of controversy.
Offwidth - on 07 Aug 2013
In reply to Michael Ryan - UKC and UKH:

Was there anything on that list where you were first? I'm not denying your influence just the statement that you changed the world when you seemed to me to be speeding up of the evolution of guides by taking and applying the best of what was available. I'd also challenge the rest of the world taking a hell of a long time to catch up... as some were arguably ahead, some caught up quickly and others are still stuck where they always were.
ByEek - on 07 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave: I think both are pretty excellent these days but serve different markets. If you area covered is on your back door and you go there a lot, it makes sense to buy the definitive. If you are an infrequent visitor, the Rockfax books give a good introduction to an area. I have the Peak definitive guides, but only one visitor guide for Wales and another for the Lakes for example.
Slarti B on 07 Aug 2013
In reply to JoshOvki:
> (In reply to drsdave)
>
> I am also a fan on the rockfax books but would rather have both. Rockfax for finding out where you are on the crag, then a second complete guidebook to find all the climbs that are not listed.

Second that. Another point is that Rockfax books are not as durable. eg I have the Southwest Rockfax which has lovely clear photos but is falling apart after 2 years vs my CC Cornwall book with small B&W drawings but still fine after 5 years.
alan moore - on 07 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave:
Use the proper guide for going climbing and use the Rockfax for looking at pictures and ticking boxes when you get back home.
Ramblin dave - on 07 Aug 2013
In reply to alan moore:
> (In reply to drsdave)
> Use the proper guide for going climbing and use the Rockfax for looking at pictures and ticking boxes when you get back home.

Unless it's one of those areas where the "proper" guide has a picture of a greyish blur with some blurry white lines on it and route descriptions like "follow a wandering line up the indistinct rib".

For the most part I find that for choosing a suitable crag, getting there, picking a route you want to do and then figuring out where it goes, Rockfax guides are pretty close to optimal. They don't leave you flicking through page after page of route descriptions to figure out whether there's anything you can actually climb at a given crag, for instance, or assume that you already know which crags are green in winter or catch a breeze in summer.
Mick Ward - on 07 Aug 2013
In reply to Offwidth:

> I'm not denying your influence just the statement that you changed the world...

Well, it wasn't Mick who was making that claim; it was Mark Collins. As it happens, I'd agree with him. I think that Mick and his mates did change the world of guidebook writing, with the first few Rockfaxes. As I recall, the presentation of information was quite different to anything that I'd seen previously. Certainly the Rockfax format seemed much more applicable to sport climbing, where traditional descriptions are often redundant (and blow the onsight).

I hope Mick and his mates are proud of starting Rockfax. They should be.

Mick




John_Hat - on 07 Aug 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to drsdave)
>
> In theory, I'd go for Rockfax in an area I don't visit often, and the "definitive" guides in my local areas.
>
> In practice, I end up buying pretty much everything available :-)

Ditto and ditto :-)
In reply to Mick Ward:
>
> Well, it wasn't Mick who was making that claim; it was Mark Collins. As it happens, I'd agree with him. I think that Mick and his mates did change the world of guidebook writing, with the first few Rockfaxes. As I recall, the presentation of information was quite different to anything that I'd seen previously. Certainly the Rockfax format seemed much more applicable to sport climbing, where traditional descriptions are often redundant (and blow the onsight).
>

Rockfax were already well established when I came aboard and we produce the book that really made people take note; Peak Grit East. The DTP part of the equation was already in place, but the fortunate timing of the availability of affordable colour printing and appearance of digital cameras clinched it. For that book we used a 3 megapixel Nikon that cost (iirc) around 800.

> I hope Mick and his mates are proud of starting Rockfax. They should be.
>
> Mick

We are!

Chris
Tom F Harding on 07 Aug 2013
In reply to Michael Ryan - UKC and UKH:

Didn't all those ideas just come from Jingo Wobbly? :-)

... OK. maybe not the clear directions


Still going strong http://www.jingowobbly.com/
alasdair19 on 07 Aug 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs: thanks for that Chris interesting.

I remember discussing guides with folk in canada where there were some great and some old school guides. The standard we wanted was text, picture and grade for every route. that was 2000/01 so things were mostly still B+W. wish I still had my squamish guide from the period to compare the "cutting edges".

Harry Holmes - on 08 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave: I like the format and longevity of SMC guides, although maybe rock fax is easier to use. Rockfax guides do tend to fall apart though. My favourite guide has to be Ground Up North Wales Rock guide. It seemed sturdy yet simple to use.
LakesWinter on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave: bloody hell dave, look at what you started here!!
The Pylon King on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave:

Always buy the definitive if you can, that way you will keep the non honey-pot/non money-making crag info alive for future generations.
drsdave - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to LakesWinter:
yer i know, I was only chuffin asking, lol
drsdave - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to Mick Ward:
ha, lol, yer i went to a comprehensive as well
Al Evans on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave: I actually don't think it matters how much easier to follow the Rockfax guides are, personally I used both when I was a climber, but the definitive guides are so much more important to UK climbing than Rockfax historically that I think everybody who lives within an area should buy the definitive guide, if you are a quick hit and run visitor then obviously Rockfax is better.
Mick Ward - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to The Pylon King:

> Always buy the definitive if you can...

It seems to me that, these days, 'definitive' has become debased to little more than a marketing term. And one that I find increasingly irritating.

Mick

P.S. That's not to disparage the efforts of people like Brian and yourself. With FCQ he probably came as close to definitive as you could ever get. Interestingly (correct me if I'm wrong) he never claimed it as definitive.
John2 - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to Mick Ward: 'It seems to me that, these days, 'definitive' has become debased to little more than a marketing term'

Why?
Dave Garnett - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to Mick Ward:
> (In reply to The Pylon King)
>
> [...]
>
> It seems to me that, these days, 'definitive' has become debased to little more than a marketing term. And one that I find increasingly irritating.
>

I recall when it was first used prominently and, yes, it has some marketing value. But you have to call guides that are not selective something. What would you call them?
remus - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to Mick Ward: I don't agree. Definitive has never actually meant definitive, its always just a good approximation. I think recent guidebooks have gotten the balance about right e.g. The bmc peak guides, where pretty much everything is included, though really small crags just get a 'the following routes have been recorded here'. I think the inclusion of.boulder problems is also a good step forwards.
seankenny - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave:

Both have their place, but I've found on several occasions Rockfax grades are way, way out. This is particularly the case with slightly more obscure routes. Peak will be fine, Pembroke perhaps less so. One might almost suspect, heaven forbid, that they haven't checked all the climbs!
andrewmcleod - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave:

I am very happy with the Rockfax Dorset 2012 guidebook, which (albeit only for sport, no trad or bouldering) is approximately definitive for Portland. Personally I often struggle to find the right line even when it is only 8m high, I am standing underneath it and it is bolted! Photo topos are awesome :)
DubyaJamesDubya - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to seankenny:
> (In reply to drsdave)
>
> Both have their place, but I've found on several occasions Rockfax grades are way, way out. This is particularly the case with slightly more obscure routes. Peak will be fine, Pembroke perhaps less so. One might almost suspect, heaven forbid, that they haven't checked all the climbs!

It pays to have both if only for this reason.
Jonny2vests - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to The_flying_climber:
> (In reply to Michael Ryan - UKC and UKH)
>
> Didn't all those ideas just come from Jingo Wobbly? :-)

Yeah, but in the same way The Beatles were influenced by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

Jonny2vests - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to drsdave)
>
> In theory, I'd go for Rockfax in an area I don't visit often, and the "definitive" guides in my local areas.
>
> In practice, I end up buying pretty much everything available :-)

Exactly.
Mick Ward - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to remus:

> Definitive has never actually meant definitive...

Which is exactly my problem with the term. Nowadays it seems like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval to make clear blue (marketing) distance between 'the good guys' and those dreadful Selected Climbs cherrypickers.

I find the present use of the term smug and sanctimonious. Sometimes it's downright laughable. For instance, when people on here ask for the best guide to my local area, they regularly get referred to the 'definitive' guide. As it happens, the 'definitive' guide is hopelessly out of date (not the fault of the guidebook writer) and the dastardly Selected is fairly comprehensive (but certainly not definitive).

However because the 'definitive' guide was supposedly definitive, in some people's eyes, it still is and (seemingly) always will be.

That's just one example of the limitations of 'definitive'. I'm sure there are many others.

Mick




Dave Garnett - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Mick Ward:
> (In reply to remus)
>
> [...]
>
>
> I find the present use of the term smug and sanctimonious. Sometimes it's downright laughable.

Well, no doubt you have particular examples in mind. All I can say is that for the Roaches guide we at the very least mentioned every extant route. For utterly hopeless choss we condensed the descriptions into a summary paragraph for the crag but even this was thought to be a radical departure.

Including bouldering adds another layer of complexity of course, and I'm not sure what definitive mneans in that context, but for for me it means as complete as possible, including the history and comprehensive first ascent information.
remus - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Mick Ward: Fair enough. You obviously care about the exactitude of the language more than I do!

> Which is exactly my problem with the term. Nowadays it seems like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval to make clear blue (marketing) distance between 'the good guys' and those dreadful Selected Climbs cherrypickers.

I think the issue is a little more nuanced than that. In particular definitive guidebooks are almost always put together by teams of very enthusiastic locals who put a lot back in to the local scene (e.g. cleaning up crags as they document them, negotiating access, equipping routes). It is simply not possible for someone like rockfax, who produce guides that cover vast swathes of europe, to make similarly substantial contributions.

Personally I would prefer that my money goes towards creating a market for definitives so that the local guys will keep looking after the crags.
Mick Ward - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> Well, no doubt you have particular examples in mind.

I've just given you one!

> ...I'm not sure what definitive mneans in that context, but for for me it means as complete as possible, including the history and comprehensive first ascent information.

For me, that's what traditional guidebook writing is all about. And I applaud those who do it. But, in the past, guidebooks didn't need to have 'definitive' stamped on them. Seemingly they do now. In the past, the 'selected' label was used instead, for guidebooks which were, err, selective. Now it's as though the selected is the norm and the definitive is a weak (to me) riposte.

Mick
Mick Ward - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to remus:

> Fair enough. You obviously care about the exactitude of the language more than I do!

Possibly not, if you use words such as nuanced... My problem isn't so much with the exactitude of the language but rather the exactitude of the thinking. In my experience, woolly misguided terms breed woolly misguided thinking. We're all agreed that, for us, definitive means as good as one could reasonably get. But, in the marketplace, 'definitive' seems to have become akin to 'low sugar' or 'Vitamin E added' or (God help us!) 'natural'. That's what makes me queasy.


> In particular definitive guidebooks are almost always put together by teams of very enthusiastic locals who put a lot back in to the local scene (e.g. cleaning up crags as they document them, negotiating access, equipping routes).

It's not the process to which I object; it's the pert term, which I just wouldn't use (and formerly wasn't used). Good on the locals (who don't have to be part of a guidebook team). I cleaned and equipped on Portland for 10 years, off my own bat, and I know others who have done likewise.


> It is simply not possible for someone like rockfax, who produce guides that cover vast swathes of europe, to make similarly substantial contributions.

Well, they probably can't give time. Arguably they could give more money (privately or corporately). But we've been here before!


> Personally I would prefer that my money goes towards creating a market for definitives so that the local guys will keep looking after the crags.

All my work - and that of others I've known down here - was done with our own money.

Mick (who will be away from these august forums for quite a few hours).
In reply to Dave Garnett:
>
> Well, no doubt you have particular examples in mind. All I can say is that for the Roaches guide we at the very least mentioned every extant route.
>

I don't believe this is in the Definitive Roches guide:
http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=16046

at least I couldn't find it when I was 'ticking' my copy.

And this doesn't get mention in the Froggatt guide:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=19940

We thought it was quite good - but then I guess we would!


Chris
Dave Garnett - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Mick Ward:
> (In reply to Dave Garnett)
>
> [...]
>
> I've just given you one!
>
>

I meant an example of a 'definitive' guide where you consider the claim is marketing puff (or smug and sanctimonious, as you put it).
Dave Garnett - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to Dave Garnett)
> [...]
>
> I don't believe this is in the Definitive Roches guide:
> http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=16046
>
> at least I couldn't find it when I was 'ticking' my copy.
>

As far as we could figure out Amaranth (Gibson 1979/1980 -slightly unclear which) climbed the original finish of Death Knell as climbed by Yates and Foord in 1970. It was in a pretty horrible state even back in 1989 but i did toprope it. But, you're right, Gibson's ascent and renaming should have been mentioned in the first ascents description.

Offwidth, have you made a note?!
Offwidth - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:

I've seen it, at least.
John2 - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Mick Ward: Mick, perhaps your definitive guide was not hopelessly out of date when it was brought out. Surely you can understand that a guidebook can only contain the routes that existed when it was published.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Dave Williams - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave:

Well, it's nice that we are able to have such a discussion at the present time because at the moment we, generally speaking, still have a choice of which type of printed guide we buy. How long we'll have such a choice is a moot point though.

As I understand it, the current trend is that UK guidebook sales are down across the board, particularly for 'definitive' guides. There may be some notable exceptions to this situation, but generally this is the situation.

It doesn't take any imagination to run the scenario forward to the point where we will see the demise of the definitive guide as we know it. (And if I have been informed correctly, this may be a lot sooner than people might think.) Teams of volunteers aren't going to put in the effort if a definitive guide simply isn't going to sell in sufficient numbers to even cover production and distribution costs.

Also, a marked drop in the sales of existing guide books will also mean that funds from those sales will diminish to the point where it won't be feasible to pump-prime new guidebook production. There is also the other likely complication of vast unsold stocks of already printed (and paid for) guides leading to a real cash-flow situation. This again will likely mean a lack of monies for new guide production.

Selective guides may buck this trend for a while but even their survival isn't guaranteed, seeing as how they are often so heavily reliant on definitive guides. Without definitive guides, producing selective guides will, quite likely, become far more costly/ difficult.

Considering the amount of work that goes into them, definitive guidebooks provide excellent value for money. As has already been said in this thread, the only way to ensure that we still have the same choice in the future as we have now is to buy both the selective *and* the definitive guide or guides for a particular area.

Dave
Offwidth - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Dave Williams:

Climbers are enthusiasts so I can't see that definitive guides will end but with modern IT they may drift onto the web. Even the full publishing cost of the guidebooks are small compared to the free time, petrol and office costs of volunteers. Moff and I suspect if you fully costed whet we did for Froggatt it would be in the tens of thousands, which itself would be small compared to the total 'full costing' of the team workig with us. Yet climbing and guidebooks is what we do in our spare time.
Dave Garnett - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Offwidth:

I agree. I like the current definitive guidebooks and they are, of course, a Good Thing. But before there was an organised club/BMC structure producing them, individual enthusiasts wrote them for their own patch and I strongly suspect they would do so again if necessary. And, as you say, it's all so much easier to publish online now.
Dave Williams - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:

I was specifically referring to definitive guides in printed form. I agree about their eventual drift onto the web, which may or may not be a good thing. It'll suit some/ many no doubt, but I personally think that having a guide book that you can hold and cherish is a good thing. Web guides, despite having utility value, are utterly soulless in comparison.

Dave
In reply to Dave Williams:
> I was specifically referring to definitive guides in printed form. I agree about their eventual drift onto the web, which may or may not be a good thing. It'll suit some/ many no doubt, but I personally think that having a guide book that you can hold and cherish is a good thing. Web guides, despite having utility value, are utterly soulless in comparison.

But are you lamenting the (hypothesised) passing of the definitive record of information, which seems to be the topic of your first post, or the (hypothesised) passing of the printed guidebook as you state here?

One doesn't necessarily lead to the other.

Alan
Offwidth - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Dave Williams:

Why on earth would a pdf for a crag suddenly transform into being souless just because instead of being printed in a book it goes on the web? Even as a part of a package (as a book is) things might eventually improve online because you can link in archive material such as people like Phil Kelly are working hard on.
In reply to Offwidth:
> Why on earth would a pdf for a crag suddenly transform into being souless just because instead of being printed in a book it goes on the web?

There is definitely a tendency for people to say 'souless' when they really mean 'unfamiliar'.

Alan
Offwidth - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I think its sometimes more deliberate than that: ie familiar enough but not a trend that is liked. There is a nice relevant piece today from Kevin Spacey in his MacTaggart lecture "if you watch a tv show on your iPad is it no longer a TV show? The device or length are irrelevant. It's all story" If guidebook producers ignore the 'audience' needs they will suffer the same problems that are afflicting film production.
remus - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Offwidth: I think a lot of this sentiment comes from the fact that we currently have lots of very good paper guidebooks but no ones really put together a really good online guide so far. The potential is certainly there, though.
Dave Williams - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Dave Williams)
>
> Why on earth would a pdf for a crag suddenly transform into being souless just because instead of being printed in a book it goes on the web? Even as a part of a package (as a book is) things might eventually improve online because you can link in archive material such as people like Phil Kelly are working hard on.

Hang on ... I was just expressing a personal opinion.

To me a guidebook is a physical entity. I can write stuff in it; pick it up at random and browse or flick through it. I can sit on the loo and read it. It contains background information - geology, flora, history; everything I need to know about an area or crag is detailed between the two covers. It is easily portable; it doesn't need charging; I can read it in bright sunlight etc etc.

I realise that a guide in pdf form will contain all of the above, but it's not the same. If you want something physical, something beyond the display on a smart phone, then you're going to have to print off some pages. To me, holding a few scrappy A4 pages will never hold the same fascination as holding a real book. In 10, 20, years time, a pile of yellowing printoffs will never have the same allure as a collection of over 200 guidebooks on a bookshelf.

It's the MP3-CD argument all over again. It's not just about the music; some of us just simply prefer CDs.

I'm not arguing whether or not this is the way to go as I think publishing guidebooks entirely on the web is (sadly) inevitable.


Dave Williams - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
> [...]
>
> There is definitely a tendency for people to say 'souless' when they really mean 'unfamiliar'.
>
> Alan

Don't be so patronising; that's not what I meant at all. I meant 'souless'.

I've contributed to current PDF only guides so I'm hardly unfamiliar with the reality of the concept.

Offwidth - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Dave Williams: I love physical guidebooks too and I can't see they will ever die out as physical items if only as collectibles. I do see them being slowly replaced on the crags. When the next generation of daylight readable displays like Kindles go to full colour with days worth of time between recharges and you can follow links for a huge variety of information (history, tips, videos) on the routes in front of you and annotate stuff yourself live in text, audio, image & video, a book will struggle to compete.
Dave Williams - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH)
>
> I think its sometimes more deliberate than that: ie familiar enough but not a trend that is liked.

Exactly.

> If guidebook producers ignore the 'audience' needs they will suffer the same problems that are afflicting film production.

I suspect that pure economics will force the issue for many definitive guidebooks rather than audience 'needs' as it won't be financially feasible to print them in book form, particularly for less popular areas. People aren't buying as many guidebooks now as they used to even though there is no real online alternative as yet. So do we really know that PDF guidebooks purchased online will sell in greater numbers than current sales of paper-based ones? No, we do not, IMHO.

Dave Williams - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to remus:
> (In reply to Offwidth) I think a lot of this sentiment comes from the fact that we currently have lots of very good paper guidebooks but no ones really put together a really good online guide so far. The potential is certainly there, though.

Agree totally.

We have a long way to go and much to prove as far as online guides are concerned. As major publishers of 'definitive' guidebooks, do the BMC/ CC have the resources/ ability to do this? I very much doubt it, at least not in the immediate future in any case.
In reply to Dave Williams:
> So do we really know that PDF guidebooks purchased online will sell in greater numbers than current sales of paper-based ones? No, we do not, IMHO.

I am certainly not intending on producing PDF Rockfax guidebooks for much longer. It isn't about paper sheet PDFs, or even onscreen PDFs, it is much more the App guidebook similar to what Offwidth outlines above.

My question whenever people say how great books are and how much they don't like Kindles/Tablets/iPads is to ask them to try and imagine that we had Kindles/Tablets/iPads as the norm and that people were trying to convert us to using printed books.

Alan
Offwidth - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Dave Williams: I'd say the opposite. On the one hand the the money transfer technology and on the other the climbing media (crag text and photos, maps etc) exist already as do many GPS locations and there is space for other media as required. More and more history is online. This all needs putting into the right format with the right links (which will allow you for instance to do fancy stuff like choose your favorite historical description or watch your favorite climber on the route). It's all just waiting for the technology to be more crag useable.
Ramblin dave - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
Yes, I'm fairly sentimental about "real" books, but one upside of going to a digital format would be that guidebook writers would no longer have to make hard decisions about whether to trim out all those extended reminiscences about minor first ascents in order to keep the printing costs under control...
Offwidth - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave: Equally if you wanted it you could get extended versions from the link or interesting subsequent ascents. If guidebook producers are sensible you will get to choose the format you want. the guidebook will take you to the climb and tell you almost anything you might want to know about it and how it links to other interesting stuff.
In reply to Offwidth:
> It's all just waiting for the technology to be more crag useable.

Well there is a fair amount of work to get the data in the right format as well, plus design and develop the right app. The reason we don't have any very good apps at the moment is because it an incredibly difficult thing to develop I think, not because the mobiles aren't up to the job, however I do take your point about screens and signals not being good enough yet.

We have spent the best part of the last 2 years getting our Rockfax/UKC data in shape and setting things up for an App guidebook and we are still a long way off. It makes producing a guidebook look relatively easy to be honest.

The prize though is a user-friendly App that works on different handheld devices offering functionality way beyond any printed book, plus it can always be up to date, and never needs reprinting, and in our case we should be able to roll it out over all our more recent guidebooks pretty quickly.

I suspect will still be printing books for a good few years as well though.

Alan

John2 - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH: 'My question whenever people say how great books are and how much they don't like Kindles/Tablets/iPads is to ask them to try and imagine that we had Kindles/Tablets/iPads as the norm and that people were trying to convert us to using printed books'

To which I would reply, have you ever tried climbing a multi pitch route with an Ipad stuffed up your jumper? And what would you do when the charge ran out half way up?
drsdave - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Al Evans:
yes i can hear what you're saying and i cant disagree, i was thinking these thoughts over today. Rockfax are complimented by bmc and i guess I'll be now getting around to securing both and thanks to all who have bothered to share their wisdom
d
In reply to John2:
> To which I would reply, have you ever tried climbing a multi pitch route with an Ipad stuffed up your jumper? And what would you do when the charge ran out half way up?

I have climbed with a very big guidebook stuffed up my jumper, and I have climbed with a phone in a pocket and I know which one is lighter.

Charge running out is something we all deal with on our mobiles and it will most likely only become easier over the next few years. I think my wife has charged her Kindle twice in the last 6 months for example and iPad charges last for many days (unless you are a heavy gamer).

Alan
Mick Ward - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to John2:

> Mick, perhaps your definitive guide was not hopelessly out of date when it was brought out. Surely you can understand that a guidebook can only contain the routes that existed when it was published.

Absolutely. I may be stupid but hopefully I'm not that stupid. In the example I quoted, the guidebook was bang up to date - at least when it went to print. But people recommending it as definitive when it's wildly out of date, is ridiculous. (By all means buy it for the admirable content.)

Definitive = as good and as comprehensive as we could get. (Which is how we're using the term.) Yes, fine.

But I suspect that, in general parlance, 'definitive' has different connotations which contain some downright woolly thinking.

And I suspect that 'definitive' is a weak riposte to Rockfax et al.

Banging on about this may become boring. It may be best to agree to disagree.

Mick


John2 - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH: The words Kindles/Tablets/iPads were yours. You did not mention phones.
John2 - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Mick Ward: I assume you're talking about the Portland guide. As far as I know, the first decent coverage of Portland was produced by Rockfax, then the CC produced a guide which contained more routes than the previous Rockfax. The latest Rockfax contains more routes than the CC guide. That is the natural order of things.
Mick Ward - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to John2:

We seem to be talking at cross-purposes. Better to leave it.

Mick
The Pylon King on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Mick Ward:
> (In reply to The Pylon King)
>
> [...]
>
> It seems to me that, these days, 'definitive' has become debased to little more than a marketing term. And one that I find increasingly irritating.
>
> Mick
>
> P.S. That's not to disparage the efforts of people like Brian and yourself. With FCQ he probably came as close to definitive as you could ever get. Interestingly (correct me if I'm wrong) he never claimed it as definitive.

Its just a word, what word would be better?

Is Aquamarine better than Blue?

And Yes Brian and myself (who worked on the book together) would call it definitive.
Mick Ward - on 24 Aug 2013
In reply to The Pylon King:

< I'm only replying out of courtesy because you've raised a couple of questions, albeit semi-rhetorical. After this, I won't make any further replies. >


> Its just a word...

Nope - it's also what a word is: a meaning, a set of meanings, connotations. Is 'fascist' just a word? Is 'terrorist' just a word? Words have meanings, connotations. It's the glib connotations routinely accorded to the labelling of guidebooks as 'definitive' to which I take exception.


> what word would be better?

None. (I think I've already said this above.)


> Is Aquamarine better than Blue?

No. It's not better or worse. It's different. It may (or may not) be more appropriate in a certain situation. I don't have a problem with the word 'definitive'. I do have a problem with it being used as an increasingly glib guidebook label.


> And Yes Brian and myself (who worked on the book together) would call it definitive.

And rightly so (if we're taking 'definitive' to mean 'as good as can be'). But you didn't find it necessary to ruin the front cover with a glib label. For which I thank you.

Mick


Offwidth - on 24 Aug 2013
In reply to Mick Ward:

Its arguably glib to say a cover is ruined that way. You are right that definitive is over used, and mis-used.
Al Evans on 24 Aug 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Mick Ward)
>
> Its arguably glib to say a cover is ruined that way. You are right that definitive is over used, and mis-used.

What do you suggest as an alternative? To me definitive embraces not only an attempt to describe all the routes, some in more detail than others, but also their history and the 'feeling' of the times they were climbed in.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Offwidth - on 24 Aug 2013
In reply to Al Evans:

What do I suggest to an alternative to what? The guide I co-edited has 'definitive' on the cover and I think that's OK but it doesn't mean what some people would like it to mean. For instance we happily put some crags on the web on a pdf and didn't list absolutely everything that had been climbed. As I pointed out on the other thread definitive has never meant absolutely everything in any guide that I'm aware off.
Al Evans on 24 Aug 2013
In reply to Offwidth: Well it was supposed to when I were a lad :-0) Offwidth, please chill nobody is giving you anything but praise for OTM, it's just a few reflections by people like Tony who remember the great times when they were young on routes that sadly for one reason or another no longer make the guide. Actually in , just as one example, the CC Cloggy guide the route Carpet Slab is still remembered despite it having fallen down in the 80'S, I'm sure Indy 500 (or was it Formula One) will be remembered in future guides to Lundy, as will Yankee Doodle in the Cornish guide.
Mostly these things are remembered as historical notes in a 'definitive guide' but rarely mentioned in selective climbs guides. They however remain in the history of our sport, and to preserve that history is the job of a definitive guide, certainly not the job of a selected climbs guide like Rockfax. It's why I think Definitive guides should have Arts Council grants or lottery money, they are doing a lot more than pointing a few bums at various crags. They are the written history of our sport.
John Willson - on 24 Aug 2013
In reply to Al Evans:

I think the word definitive was originally mainly used to differentiate from 'interim' guides and supplements. The former were quite common when a new area was being developed. There were, of course, a few selectives around (James, Nunn, etc.) but these were seen as something quite different and did not actually need a disinguishing epithet.
Dave Garnett - on 24 Aug 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs)
> [...]
>
> ... original finish of Death Knell as climbed by Yates and Foord in 1970. It was in a pretty horrible state even back in 1989 but i did toprope it.

No idea why I put 1989, it must have been about 2002.
jon on 24 Aug 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:

Ah, the years just run into each other, don't they Dave?
The Pylon King on 24 Aug 2013
In reply to Mick Ward:
> (In reply to The Pylon King)
>

> I don't have a problem with the word 'definitive'. I do have a problem with it being used as an increasingly glib guidebook label.
>
Fair enough, but 'definitive' gives people an idea of what is in the guide, thats all.
The Pylon King on 24 Aug 2013
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
> [...]
>
> To me definitive embraces not only an attempt to describe all the routes, some in more detail than others, but also their history and the 'feeling' of the times they were climbed in.

Yes that what i always thought. I never found it glib.
Dave Garnett - on 24 Aug 2013
In reply to jon:

Not just the years but the centuries and millennia in this case!
Offwidth - on 25 Aug 2013
In reply to Al Evans:

I see no need to chill for the reasons I put on the other thread. Dovestones main needs urgent help and the critics who think its a "disgrace" it was not fully included should be up there.

I'd disagree about your view on guidebooks and I think only the BMC Wye valley guide under GM came close to what you describe. I think the real detail on history should be elsewhere. Sure the guidebooks should have detailed FA info and things like historical anecdotes and mini-profiles scattered amongst the pages but to try and put everything in would make it too long and would undermine any subsequent volume.

Also at some point you will realise Martin edited OtM.
garycrocker - on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave: Buy everything, BMC, SMC, Rockfax, Topos the lot. Can't have too many guide books.
Dave Garnett - on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Al Evans)
> I'd disagree about your view on guidebooks and I think only the BMC Wye valley guide under GM came close to what you describe. I think the real detail on history should be elsewhere.

Yes, the Wye Valley guide went way over the top and as a result failed as a practical guidebook. However, there has to be a balance and if history becomes detached and shunted off into what would certainly be rare and highly specialist climbing history books something importnat would be lost.

I'm increasingly concerned about how distant many (not all) young climbers seem to be from any sense of the history and ethos of trad climbing in particular. Some of the current discussions on bolts make this very clear. If this isn't fairly prominent in guidebooks (and well-written and interesting, obviously) where else are they going to get it from?
Matt Vigg - on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to drsdave:

Rockfax guides for short sport climbing trips abroad, tick the routes, put em back on the shelf.

PDF guides for losing down the back of the sofa and watching pages float off over the sea or moor.

CC guides to read on the loo, get psyched for routes and areas, read up on the history of climbs and climbing itself, for watching the guides get old and moth eaten and remembering the time you dropped one onto a ledge just above the sea and abbed down to get it back, writing up all your adventures and wistfully looking back at them years later.

Think that covers it.
GrahamD - on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to Matt Vigg:

> Rockfax guides for short sport climbing trips abroad, circumnavigate the mistakes, tick the routes, put em back on the shelf.

Corrected that for you ^^
Offwidth - on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:

I think the BMC and YMC guides I've worked on, some with you, are spot on in respect of what you say we need (unsurprisingly!).

Ive started a new thread on the young climbers bit:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=561437&new=7473754#x7473754

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