Thursday, August 16, 2007


This story, with huge implications for booksellers it seems to Bookman Beattie, from Publishers Weekly overnight :

Lonely Planet is testing a program in which consumers can pick chapters from its guidebooks to download on any device that accepts PDF files and mix chapters from different books to create the guidebook they want. “One of the most common requests is for us is to find ways to use our content in more flexible ways,” said Tom Hall, product manager of Pick & Mix.

LP is testing the program on its website using its Latin American guidebooks and providing some free chapters and charging nominal fees ranging from $2-$5 per chapter to download depending on the length of the chapter. LP did a soft launch in June, and since going live in July, Hall said there have been 13,000 downloads. Is the company worried Pick & Mix will eat into book sales?

“Obviously, there was a lot of conversation about that before we launched,” said Hall. “We believe it is complementary rather than a substitute.” For a company that works hard at creating and maintaining brand loyalty, Hall said, “it’s about getting travelers what they want, when they want it and how they want it.” LP envisioned three types of users for Pick & Mix: those travelers who only need one part of a book, such as the person with a one-night layover in a foreign city while en route to their final destination; someone on a multi-destination trip; and travelers whose plans change in midtrip.

The chapters available for download are exactly the same as in the book and the cost structure is such that if a consumer downloaded all the chapters of the book it costs the same as buying the book.

“We can’t predict where it is going to go, so we figured we’d start out simple and see where it goes,” said Hall. The product manager has some personal experience with this kind of Pick & Mix product: It is the kind of thing he could have used when he went on an around-the-world trip in 2001, a couple of years before he started working for LP.

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