Sign of the times: publisher stops commissioning guide books

In a fresh setback for the future of travel guides, AA Publishing has confirmed it has ceased to commission any new printed guide books – or even update its existing ones.

A spokeswoman for the company confirmed it was not seeking to update its guides, but was unable to say whether the situation was permanent.

"It is under review at the moment," said Katie Stephens of AA Publishing.

"We haven't entirely stopped publishing our travel guides – our new Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro guide books came out earlier this year."

She would not confirm when the decision was taken to stop commissioning more guide books, saying that the company was "currently focussing resources on delivering...information across multiple digital platforms."

AA Publishing is the largest travel publisher in the UK. The first AA routes, accompanied by handwritten details, were issued in 1910. The AA's "Key Guides" travel series started in 2004.

One freelance travel writer, who has contributed to many AA travel guides but wished to remain anonymous, suggested that commissions had begun to tail off last summer.

Earlier this year, the author was advised to accept other commissions rather than rely on work coming through AA Publishing and later received confirmation that there would be no travel guide book commissions in the near future.

Last year, the publisher acquired several "narrative" travel titles, including a tie-up with a BBC television series starring Monty Halls.

Helen Brocklehurst, the editorial manager of AA Publishing, told The Bookseller at the time that the new titles reflected the company's need to branch out into other products.

"With people increasingly sourcing their travel information online, we have to think about publishing our content in the widest sense possible."

The Telegraph, London

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