Joe Cummings on Travel Writing

My colleague Joshua Berman recently interviewed renowned guidebook author Joe Cummings on the art of travel writing, and some of Cummings' comments cut to the chase:

"I can say that guidebook editors today still want the facts but they want them sugar-coated. It used to be we authors tried to get under the skin of the country, but most editors these days seem to want us to take a more ethnocentric view, one that imposes Western values on non-Western societies. Going native seems to be frowned on; its like, “Hey don't enjoy yourself too much, don't fraternize with the locals.” Party content is big, too. “Find out where the parties are, the discos.” Basically places where you meet other tourists are big now. Also the smaller towns and off-the-beaten-track places are getting less attention. It's a market-driven approach; publishers look at what the other publishers are putting into competing guides, and they want the same coverage. There's less incentive to be a maverick and do something different."

While the above certainly applies at Lonely Planet, and perhaps at Rough Guides and Let's Go as well, I haven't encountered it with Moon Handbooks. You can read the full interview on Transitions Abroad.

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