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Monday, August 4, 2008

Our Lonely Planet Syria and Lebanon guidebook has hit the shelves!

We've just received our author copies of our recently released Lonely Planet Syria and Lebanon guidebook and I'm rather excited to see it in print as we put a lot of hard work into it. Admittedly, seeing a book for the first time is not as thrilling these days as it once was, especially as we've now written, contributed to and updated around 35 guidebooks. And it's even less exciting when Lonely Planet sends you a few mangled, well-thumbed copies, rather than issues that are hot off the presses and smell freshly printed! The fact that we researched it over a year ago, from April to June 2007, also takes a bit of the edge off it. Just thinking that some of it is already out of date makes me cringe. But such is the nature of publishing - books take forever to get from research through writing to manuscript submission, then through editing and author queries until they finally go to print...

I went online to see if there were any reviews of the book yet but unfortunately all I could find were a few reader reviews which, while attached to this edition, are actually for the last edition. Some were written 8 years ago and so apply to an ancient edition while one 2007 review applied to an edition we wrote that was already 4 years old, so obviously some content was out of date when the reader used it. Interestingly though, we used that edition when we were on the road last year and it was in pretty good shape. The way we research is to methodically check everything in the current book as we're travelling from town to town, retaining anything that's still open and is worthwhile, deleting or downgrading anything that's closed or is not as good as it once was, and then looking for places to replace any deletions. One reader writes of that edition: "It only gives you the most popular sites and then a few it claims are "off-the-beaten-track" but really aren't. It misses some of Syria's best out of the way castles and ruins." What he fails to consider is that we all travel differently. Some of us are more intrepid than others, and what might be a well-trodden sight for one reader might be well and truly "off-the-beaten-track" for other less adventurous travellers. And let's face it, Lonely Planet guides are mainstream books aimed to appeal to a wide cross-section of people. As someone who has been to Syria many times, when I next visit I won't be using a Lonely Planet or any other guidebook. My own well-thumbed and rather ragged version of Ross Burns' Monuments of Syria will be enough to guide me.

Pictured? My co-author/husband Terry at one of those out-of-the-way sights that may not be off-the-beaten-track enough for everyone. The first person who can identify the site gets the most mangled copy of the new guides that Lonely Planet sent me! How's that for incentive?


Jessie V said...

lara - congrats!! would you like us to feature this book, or something else, on our site ( i'll email you!

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Jessie - Thanks!

And that's very thoughtful of you. I'll wait for your email.

Great site actually! I wish I'd known about it when I was working in education.

Heather on her travels said...

Hi Lara

I've been working my way through the Lonely Planet guide I got as a Passports with Purpose prize.

I'm off to Beirut/Lebanon in a couple of weeks to visit a friend who's working in Beirut. We have a week (Sun-Fri)to do day trips from Beirut and possible a few overnight stays. My friend has a car.

What I'm struggling to make sense of is what itinerary will let us see as much as possible. Also, are there some sites that are less known but worth the effort? Also, any wonderful hotels that we'd enjoy.

Can you make any suggestions or point me to any on line resources that would help guide me on planning the itinerary & maximise the time we have?

Many Thanks