/ Guidebook design idea

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C Witter 23 Aug 2019

A random thought... brainchild of my partner:

Rather than have guidebooks as a single volume, why not split them so that each area section or significant crag is bound, but they are all contained loose within a cover/box/wallet/sheaf? This would avoid the necessity of carrying the whole guide everywhere, and of guidebook spines slowly disintegrating under the weight of all the pages.

Perhaps something like  B. S. Johnson's The Unfortunates - but adapted to take stuffed rucksacks and damp into account?

CW

Post edited at 14:52
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Tom Last 23 Aug 2019
In reply to C Witter:

This has been done before, I recall something like it with a series of guides to the crags of the NW Highlands, though don’t remember the name now.

Post edited at 15:04
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GridNorth 23 Aug 2019
In reply to C Witter:

I produced an alpine guide many years ago and touted it around publishers and shops but no one was interested.  I think they would probably have been too expensive to produce but I never got round to having a business plan so I'm not sure. Each A5, laminated route sheet had a photo topo and a description.  The idea was that they could be purchased as individual routes or as a bound volume.  I think I had 10 routes with more in the pipeline.  I only did it for routes I had climbed so that I could photograph and describe without infringing any copyright. The rear pages were a description of hut approach routes and a schematic map showing major peaks and hut locations.

Al

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DaveHK 23 Aug 2019
In reply to C Witter:

I have a guide to the Ratikon with separate topos in a plastic cover.

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C Witter 23 Aug 2019
In reply to C Witter:

No new ideas under the sun, it seems! ;)

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Mark Stevenson 23 Aug 2019
In reply to C Witter:

It's pretty simple and relatively cheap, although massively time consuming, to disassemble any guidebook and then individually laminate the pages yourself .

I did that with a copy of SMC Scottish Winter Climbs several years ago and a friend has similarly laminated a complete copy of the Cicerone Ben Nevis and Glencoe Winter Climbs guidebook. It's brilliant for Winter climbing although probably an excessive amount of effort for most UK rock climbing. 

Equally, a very high profile climber and mountaineer, whom I have climbed with, was quite happy last year to split a new a Rockfax guidebook in half and create two slimmer volumes with a liberal application of duct tape.

For some historical perspective, a similar approach was often take a century ago when copies of British Mountain Climbs by George Abraham (published in 1909 as a 448 page hardback ) were dismembered and privately rebound in four sections. 

Once you get over the intrinsic cultural resistance most of us have to defacing a complete book, have lots of options. 

Unfortunately, it is just not very cost effective for publishers to print multiple volumes or to use non-standard formats. There is a good reason most guidebooks are now defaulting to the Rockfax style A5 format - it's amongst the cheapest printing options available.

HTH

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In reply to C Witter:

The previous attempts at this, which others have mentioned, tended to be loose pages in ring binders. The problem this model had was very expensive production and they also tended to be pretty fragile - more so than a bound book if you did carry the whole thing in your rucksack. Think ring binders rings bending, not working and randomly opening to spill their contents on the floor occasionally.

Your idea sounds like smaller books packaged together. This was tried by the CC in the 1990 editions of Swanage - Portland and their Pembroke guide although only in two sections for those two books. Not a bad attempt though but obviously it didn’t work long term for them. 

The big problem with multiple book-chapters is going to be cost. Each finished bound book has fixed costs associated with its production independent of the number of pages it has. So if you had 20 chapters, each bound separately, then you would have 20 set-up and binding costs as opposed to one with a single volume. Even with cover prices of £30+ for modern guides there is surprisingly little room in the system for a big increase in production cost once the retailer, distributor(s), printer and authors have taken their cut. My guess would be that a book produced in the the way you suggest would have a cover price upwards of £60. That would leave the door open to a rival producing the same book in a single cover for £30 and then you would be sunk.

At Rockfax we are aware of the big book problem since it is regularly mentioned over the last 29 years we have been producing guidebooks. Our modern solution is to fit the entire guidebook collection onto the phone that you are probably carrying already anyway. I realise this isn’t what everyone wants but it is certainly the most practical solution for us and does work for many. Http://Rockfax.app

Alan

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Pedro50 24 Aug 2019
In reply to C Witter:

A classic example was Yosemite Climbs by George Meyers, separate topos in a green ring binder. It was printed on excellent tough paper which survived folding and carrying in a back pocket. $8 in 1980 and still in good nick. 

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henwardian 24 Aug 2019
In reply to C Witter:

The old SMC guide to Skye and the Hebrides had two volumes with a sort of plastic outer that held them both together. I also have two volumes of an old Dolomites guide by Ron James that I think came as part of a single package originally.

Besides the points everyone else has made so far, it should also be added that lots of folk in modern times have been producing multiple volume guides just like you describe... Except that they just sell each volume separately as its own individual guide!

In modern times, I think the portability aspect has really been overcome by "I can't be bothered to carry the guide in, let's just photograph the relevant pages", and, obviously the internet/app solution where there isn't even a paper copy to begin with.

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BnB 24 Aug 2019
In reply to C Witter:

It's a nice idea but, since, with only minor forethought, you can photograph your required pages from the guide with your phone, or, better still, use the Rockfax app or similar, what is the point? Better still, for those of us in our fifties, we can magnify the detail in the images. No more scrabbling around for reading specs when we struggle with the small typeface. No book can offer this benefit. If it's raining, I haven't found a phone screen less irritating than a limp, sticky, wet paper guide and there comes a point quite soon when you won't be climbing anyway.

Before anyone bleats on about battery life, try switching your smartphone to aeroplane mode. Let's face it, there's often no signal at a mountain crag anyway and it's good to switch those nagging emails off for a few hours. Suddenly your battery lasts 4 days.

Edit: see Henwardian a few minutes beforehand

Post edited at 09:35
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Martin Bennett 24 Aug 2019
In reply to C Witter:

The 1st edition of Oxford Alpine's 2 vol Anti-Atlas guide, much to the publisher's chagrin, was wont to fall apart due to poor glue (or something). This proved to be ideal. I simply seperated into useable sections, punched holes and used treasury tags to re-assemble. Still using it years later.

In any case I'm quite happy to tear a page out of a guide book and sellotape it back in afterwards.

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captain paranoia 24 Aug 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

>The previous attempts at this, which others have mentioned, tended to be loose pages in ring binders.

Ah, the Rock-Filo-Fax...

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Gordon Stainforth 24 Aug 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

<old timer spoiler alert>

Agh ... I remember the good old days when CC guidebooks like 'Llanberis North' and 'Llanberis South' were only about a 1/4 inch thick ...

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Rick Graham 24 Aug 2019
In reply to BnB:

Quite.

Regarding taking photos or photocopies, good editing may mean less photos required. To Alans credit , rockfax are quite good at this, often several visits worth of climbing can be had from one double page A5.

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C Witter 25 Aug 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Thanks for the considered reply; I imagined the main obstacle would be cost. Phones make a lot of sense to a lot of people. Personally, I find it hard to read the screen in the sunshine and the battery is always going flat. But, I am constantly being ribbed as a stubbornly C20th man, despite probably also being a "millennial"...

I wonder how they manage to publish The Unfortunates without it being prohibitively expensive... £11 - 15 for a book of twenty-odd discrete sections in a book-shaped box.

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C Witter 25 Aug 2019
In reply to BnB:

I think I must be doing something wrong, because I've never got on with touchscreen phones. Nothing is more likely to make me go into a sweary frustration meltdown. I'd be in danger of lobbing it off the cliff! But, you're probably right that this is the solution of choice for most people.

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Robert Durran 25 Aug 2019
In reply to C Witter:

For single pitch cragging, a nice fat guide book that is also good for browsing at home is obviously ideal. To me, faffing around with a phone on sea cliffs or mountain crags is a complete non starter. I would like to see guidebooks come with a digital version layed out suitably for printing your relevant pages for carrying on a route. In the meantime, photocopying is the answer. I do occasionally photograph a page if I'm carrying a camera anyway - no phone faff, but still the problems of using a screen outdoors.

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Robert Durran 25 Aug 2019
In reply to C Witter:

> I think I must be doing something wrong, because I've never got on with touchscreen phones. But, you're probably right that this is the solution of choice for most people.

Why anyone would want to risk dropping or breaking their entire "life" rather than a few sheets of paper or even a camera is beyond me!

Post edited at 09:09
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In reply to C Witter:

> Thanks for the considered reply; I imagined the main obstacle would be cost. Phones make a lot of sense to a lot of people. Personally, I find it hard to read the screen in the sunshine and the battery is always going flat. But, I am constantly being ribbed as a stubbornly C20th man, despite probably also being a "millennial"...

You need to take account of the fact that phone screens, battery life, and even the way they are able to present the information to us are all going to improve almost unimaginably over the next few years. The printed book is as perfect now as it is ever likely to be. As a guide information producer, we need to be able to take advantage of where the technology is going, not just where it is at.

Alan

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In reply to Robert Durran:

> Why anyone would want to risk dropping or breaking their entire "life" rather than a few sheets of paper or even a camera is beyond me!

I am guessing that you don’t own or use a modern phone Robert? These days if you lose your phone not only can you negate its use by other people, you can easily rebuild an identical version on a new phone without losing any data.

Alan 

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Robert Durran 25 Aug 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> I am guessing that you don’t own or use a modern phone Robert?

I have a basic smartphone.

> These days if you lose your phone not only can you negate its use by other people, you can easily rebuild an identical version on a new phone without losing any data.

Ok, but I wouldn't have a clue how to go about doing that. Sounds a complete nightmare - certainly something I really, really want to avoid having to do!

Post edited at 09:48
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Darron 25 Aug 2019
In reply to C Witter:

The 1993 Ogwen and Carneddau guide came as separate volumes within a common cover.

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John2 25 Aug 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

And I'll bet that the printed book will still carry on when the mobile phone is a historical curiosity.

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Ann S 25 Aug 2019
In reply to Mark Stevenson:  

This reminds me of a story about a Mother Superior on a long train journey with two novices who had nothing to read. She had a pamphlet Life of Saint Somebody which she promptly ripped in two, giving each of them one half to read.

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BnB 25 Aug 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I have a basic smartphone.

> Ok, but I wouldn't have a clue how to go about doing that. Sounds a complete nightmare - certainly something I really, really want to avoid having to do!

I might have got this wrong but aren't you an Oxbridge-educated mathematician? You'd work it all out in five minutes flat, especially within the Apple ecosystem. And thoroughly enjoy the learning process. I admit that I, a tech entrepreneur, sometimes get to the point where I decide I don't need any more tech in my life. But I continue to be delighted how new developments in modern communications technology make my life easier. Give it a go.

Post edited at 13:43
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Robert Durran 25 Aug 2019
In reply to BnB:

> I might have got this wrong but aren't you an Oxbridge-educated mathematician? You'd work it all out in five minutes flat, especially within the Apple ecosystem. And thoroughly enjoy the learning process.

I can assure you I would hate it, quite possibly ending up smashing my phone to pieces in an apoplectic frenzy. Money is primarily for paying other people to do this sort of stuff.

I have never understood this perceived link between the ability to do maths and being capable of coping with tech. Whereas mathematics is entirely logical and if you get stuck it is simply down to your own limitations which you just have to accept, whereas dealing with tech seems to be about second guessing apparently arbitrary rules of thumb made up by distant malevolent beings.

Post edited at 15:02
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trouserburp 25 Aug 2019
In reply to Darron:

Avon and Cheddar used to come like this- good idea if the technology is still available

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Andy Hardy 25 Aug 2019
In reply to C Witter:

The big problem with this idea is that the loose sheets would be ideal for feeding through a photocopier (you have to remember your target market for this, is climbers)

😉

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Debbibee 26 Aug 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Being in my mid seventies it would be more useful to me if guides were split by grades. Say, Moderate to E1 then a separate book for everything else. This would make it easier looking for the easier routes and save me from looking at photographs of young blokes dangling off E8's. Of course in 20 years time I may need a guide from Mod to Vdiff.

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PaulJepson 26 Aug 2019
In reply to Debbibee:

> Being in my mid seventies it would be more useful to me if guides were split by grades. Say, Moderate to E1 then a separate book for everything else. This would make it easier looking for the easier routes and save me from looking at photographs of young blokes dangling off E8's. Of course in 20 years time I may need a guide from Mod to Vdiff.

Rockfax kind of did this a bit with the selected 'pokketz ' guides in the peak. There were 2 little volumes and they had all the starred stuff from the lower grades up to HVS and a few E1s. They're handy and small, but I don't think still in print. Shame they did them for somewhere where it's totally not necessary to have a pocket guide!

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gravy 26 Aug 2019

I think I had an old (and pretty useless) Pembroke guide that was divided into 2 or 3 smaller volumes for this purpose - areas rather than crags.

My alternative is a little scanner/printer wand that reproduces guide book papers onto gummed rice paper that you can stick on the back of your hand and eat pitch by pitch, all I need is £15 grand in crowd funding and you can have one plus a free tee shirt for being an early adopter.

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C Witter 26 Aug 2019
In reply to gravy:

This actually might be the way forward. Count me in! Perhaps we could also somehow enrich this rice paper with proteins, salt and various vitamins and minerals?

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In reply to PaulJepson:

> Rockfax kind of did this a bit with the selected 'pokketz ' guides in the peak. There were 2 little volumes and they had all the starred stuff from the lower grades up to HVS and a few E1s. They're handy and small, but I don't think still in print. Shame they did them for somewhere where it's totally not necessary to have a pocket guide!

We did it for North Wales as well but that didn't sell as soon as we brought the bigger version out (and not very well before the bigger version).

We have plenty of stock of North Wales Classics - https://www.rockfax.com/climbing-guides/books/north-wales-classics-2010/and the Peak Pokketz duo - https://www.rockfax.com/climbing-guides/books/peak-ne-pokketz/
I doubt we will ever run out of the Peak duo TBH.

Alan

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Toerag 27 Aug 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

> I have a guide to the Ratikon with separate topos in a plastic cover.


Wetterstein is the same - plasticised topos inside the back cover.

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Doug 27 Aug 2019
In reply to Toerag:

I remember seeing a French series of topos to individual routes plus a folder with introduction for routes on/around Mt Blanc back in the mid 70s. Have an idea it was possible to buy either indivudual routes or the complete set

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