Help! Traveled Recently with My Guidebooks? I Have Questions for You.

NS-TF11Cruise_113I’ve just huddled for three days with my lead editors and co-authors to review our entire series of guidebooks. We consider this a “wellness check”: While we assume that our books are in good shape (and are reassured by our ever-increasing sales), we want to be certain they are all living up to their full potential.

As I travel, I enjoy bumping into people using my books, who allow me to anecdotally get a sense of how they are using our material. But we have no way of knowing for sure which chapters and which sections in each book get the most use. And throughout our “book summit,” we often wondered, “What would our readers say about this?”

We’re hoping you can be our guinea pigs. Here’s a list of some of the questions we wish we had a crystal ball to help us answer. Let us know your take on any of these topics:

  1. In our Spain book, has anybody used our chapter on Cantabria (the northern coastal region featuring the Altamira Cave, the towns of Comillas and Santillana, and the Picos de Europa mountains)? If no one hollers, this chapter is toast.
  2. Has anyone used our coverage of Sitges, the beach resort near Barcelona? Speak now or say “Adéu” to Sitges.
  3. In Germany, is anyone still using the Romantic Road bus tour? Or is it more for drivers these days? Back in 1980, this was one of the original “Back Doors” in the first edition of Europe Through the Back Door. But these days, it seems those buses are going empty. Achtung! If no one speaks up, it’s auf Wiedersehen to the Romantische Strasse.
  4. For the German city with the great Gothic cathedral, we’re debating between the German name, Köln, and the English one, Cologne. We call Florence “Florence” rather than “Firenze,” but we call Seville “Sevilla” — so consistency is not our policy. Your preference: Köln or Cologne?
  5. We love the city of Dresden, in Germany, and cover it generously in our guidebook. But it’s hard to gauge how many of our readers are going there. Have you gone? Do you care?
  6. We generously include Salzburg (which is in Austria) in our Germany book. We wonder: Are a lot of our readers in Munich and Bavaria side-tripping in Salzburg, without continuing all the way to Hallstatt or Vienna (which are covered in a separate book)? Unless there’s a huge outcry, we’re going to cut Salzburg out of the Germany guidebook.
  7. Speaking of Salzburg–has anyone taken any of the “Sound of Music” tours there? Did you enjoy them? Are we overrating these in our book?

Thanks in advance for your advice. It’s a big help