OK. I finally got time to sit down and distil stuff from the interesting presentations at the Bookseller seminar about the future of travel publishing which I hosted last week.
I found Alex Ingram Waterstone's Travel Buyer particularly interesting - perhaps because I know little about how travel guides are actually sold in-store. There used to be just one period each year when book retailers really pushed travel guides in the UK. That was November and early December in the run-up to Christmas. December is still by far the best month for travel guide sales. But Spring is increasingly important for city break guidebook sales nowadays. Useful info if youabout publishing deadlines here.
But... what really hit me was his comments about occasional titles that just suddenly come from nowhere and sell a truckload. This is not common in travel guide books (compared with say fiction where suddenly a new author is 'discovered' and shifts 100,000s of units overnight.)
So how come a city guide to Marrakech: Time Out Marrakech was so popular they ran extra promotions for it the way they normally only do with sexer categories like fiction and had to keep ordering more stocks. Why?
Well, he reckoned it was that a low cost airline (easyJet) suddenly started serving the route. Time Out was the only publisher offering a city break guide to Marrakech.
What does that say to travel publishers?
1) You need to think really laterally about external trends that might have an impact upon travelling habits. What's going to make people travel somewhere new? And why?
2) Sometimes it's worth taking an educated punt on what the next 'hot' destination (or trend) might be
3) Get close to low cost airlines if you sell city break guides. I touched on this in my presentation at the seminar. If you book a flight with easyJet to somewhere they offer you discounted hotels, car hire and currency at the end of the booking process. How about a discounted guidebook too?