Summary:

The UK’s Automobile Association is pulling back from publishing some printed destination guides, as it searches for digital outlets to air its wares.

Laptop on the beach
photo: Giorgio Montersino

Is the travel book business running out of road?

In the UK, Telegraph.co.uk reports “AA ceases to commission travel guide books” – but, as so often, the headline doesn’t quite match the story.

That story is one in which the UK Automobile Association’s AA Publishing division (Britain’s largest travel publisher) is beating a tactical, partial retreat from publishing some city and country travel books in paper form.

It has frozen commissions for new such books and is “currently focussing resources on delivering…information across multiple digital platforms”, it told Telegraph.co.uk.

The story is yet another one of urgent print-to-digital transition. AA Publishing clarified for paidContent:

AA Publishing already makes available several iPhone apps for its map-based products. But, whereas Lonely Planet has long been offering its city guide books in app form, AA Publishing has none.

It is here, together with the e-book opportunity, that the publisher seems likely to focus the digital effort.

Meanwhile, it seems sensible that certain classes of book remain suited to remaining printed.

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