crotalus01 wrote:The only times I ever used a LP was in Cambodia and Morocco. Both were the newest editions available, and both were hopelessly outdated. Cambodia in 2002 I can understand being outdated because things change so quickly there, but Morocco?? I tried for a restaraunt in Marakesh that was raved about in the 05 edition (this was in 05) and the place had been closed for 2 years! NO excuse for that kind of shoddiness in a guidebook.
I also use Bradt whenever they have a guide for the country i am going to - The miniguide for Kabul served me very well.
Well - that wasn't Tony and Maureen per se. What happened was that in 1999 or so, they sold 15% of the company to this Australian businessman, I forget his name but he was the "Donald Trump of Oz." His big thing was that they had to streamline the company to make it more profitable. So, one of the first things they did was review the contracts of authors who had been working on the same book for five, six, seven editions, and who were getting paid like $40,000-60,000 per book. That might seem reasonable for a year of work, but remember that there were trust-fund kids fresh out of college who were willing to lose money to write a Lonely Planet guide - you could get away with paying them a $4000 "advance," no royalties, and save yourself $36,000-$56,000 per edition.
So, they fired all these old-timers. I have no idea if the Cambodia and Morocco books were among them.
Afterward, they hired all these new authors and then didn't train them. Zip, zero, no training. And, since the editorial staff was being cut (they laid off 150 people in 2002), many authors didn't get the readers' letters or book notes until after they'd done the research trip. New authors were told that the low payments were part of LP's new plan to force them to be "real" budget travelers - it was for authenticity rather than increasing profits. I mean, there books where you really needed to rent a car to cover the region, but they'd say, "Hey, take a bus like the backpackers do." But tourists don't have to go to that little tiny town with one bus per day, authors do. If an author complained that it wasn't enough, they were harshly chided - and even publicly humiliated - for being too wasteful and not resourceful enough. The guy with the job of doing that, T.D., was paid his full salary as a managing editor whenever he wrote a book, while I know of some authors who lost thousands of dollars because they agreed on a contract without really knowing what they were getting into (since for many of them, it was their first time in the country, or as an author of any kind). As a result, a lot of new authors skimped on coverage, though many did the best that they could with insufficient funds and training.
This didn't affect sales, thanks to LP's excellent branding, although it obviously hurt quality. Since then, I've heard they've really taken pains to increase pay to authors, train authors, and fixed a lot of went wrong during that period. But I have a feeling your 2002 Cambodia and 2005 Morocco book were among of the victims of that little episode.