Lonely Planet Releases First Interactive Travel Ebook

Lonely Planet has gone the digital route, yesterday unveiling the first interactive travel Ebook. “Discover” will make trip planning almost effortless, with never-before-seen features in the Ebook travel space. We caught up with Lonely Planet’s Executive Vice President, John Boris, for the skinny on Discover.

What are some features and functions that make Discover unique? Our Discover guides are ebooks, so the layout and design is akin to flipping through a guidebook and includes our signature stunning images, expert author content and tips from locals. Loaded with itineraries, these ebooks help you get to the ‘must-see’ experiences of a destination. But unlike a traditional print guidebook, the digital format allows us to include over 3,000 hyperlinks so readers can get to a particular chapter or map with just a tap of a finger. Thus one can get more information on a particular region, point of interest, or hotel/restaurant without flipping through the pages. We also have hyperlinked website addresses for the POIs so you can directly visit them. Each chapter also has a landing page with a hyperlinked table of contents. You can search by keyword and even look up those search terms in Google or Wikipedia for additional content. You can bookmark the places you don’t want to miss and make notes on the page, just like a print guidebook. We think that we’ve merged the best of both mediums—digital and print—into one interactive ebook guide. What we are launching is truly groundbreaking as it is designed to take full advantage of the iPad functionality and create an amazing user experience.

Will the new ebooks only be available on IPad? At present the new Discover ebook series is best viewed on the iPad. With the release of iPhone 4, the iBooks app was recently made available to the iPhone, so we are exploring ways to replicate the rich and enhanced experience of our ebooks for the iPad to the iPhone.

How often will the guidebooks be updated? Our traditional publishing cycle for the print guides is every 2 years, but with ebooks we have the opportunity to update in real time. However, unlike apps, ebook updates aren’t pushed out to the end user, and readers will have to repurchase the new edition.

How many books are available now and how many countries do you plan on featuring in the collection? Any city-specific books planned? Currently, we have 5 ebooks available: Great Britain, Ireland, Spain, Italy, and France. We’re going to be releasing the rest of our existing Discover book titles as ebooks within the next few months—an additional 7. And as new Discover titles are published in print, we intend to release them in ebook format as well. These will include cities along with regions and/or states.

How do you think this will effect the sale of your physical guidebooks ? We think travelers use different mediums for different purposes. We are placing more emphasis than ever on meeting the needs of travelers who use books—we publish content for almost every destination in the world and have a portfolio of products for every type of traveler and every trip. Travelers now seek advice and use our products from multiple channels and we are committed to making relevant, useful, and inspirational travel content available to travelers via every channel and platform available.

What else can we expect from Lonely Planet in the future? We experiment restlessly with new technologies and listen to our customers. We like to keep good company and invest in product development to work with the likes of Apple, Google, Amazon, Nokia, etc. Our aim is to be the trusted advisor to travelers everywhere regardless of platform, now and into the future. You can also expect that we continue to adapt many of our print series onto digital platforms and you can expect to see our content packaged and delivered in the best platforms out there, whether be it mobile, tablets, magazines, books and even TV.

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