Books + Reading Lists
After weeks of speculation, BBC Worldwide, the for-profit division of the U.K. media organization, confirmed the sale of Lonely Planet to semi-reclusive tobacco billionaire Brad Kelley. As The New York Times' Eric Pfanner reported, Kelley's company, NC2 Media, will acquire the Australia-based guidebook publisher for $77.8 million, a little more than half of what BBC Worldwide paid for it. (Rumors of the deal was first broken by Skift.)
In an email interview with Skift's Jason Clampet, Lonely Planet's incoming C.O.O. Daniel Houghton affirmed the company's respect for its core asset, the print editions of its guides: "Lonely Planet will continue to be committed to its roots in publishing and providing quality information to travellers around the world. We are committed to all mediums, and print will continue to be a part of the mix."
Yesterday, Skift's Rafat Ali reported that BBC Worldwide is in negotiations to sell off a majority of its stake in Lonely Planet, the longtime must-pack for wide-eyed international backpackers since its founding in 1973. The buyer, according to Ali, is Brad Kelley, a former tobacco company owner and semi-reclusive billionaire described as being the third biggest private landowner in the United States. BBC Worldwide, which acquired Lonely Planet from its founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler in 2007, would still have some role in the day-to-day operations of the book and web company. Rumors of a possible sale were reported in the U.K. press back in December 2012, when names of possible buyers included Barry Diller, head of IAC/InterActiveCorp.
So, what might this mean for fans of the books? As Jason Clampet notes in another Skift story from the same day, sales of guidebooks are down as more travelers are turning to the web and mobile devices for user-generated content. According to Clampet, sales of the top guides dropped by 47% since 2007.
A lot of people dream about packing up their workaday lives and moving to paradise, but few of us actually do it. Mark Yokoyama, a former marketing and merchandising executive, and his partner, Jenn Yerkes, an advertising copywriter, did just that when they moved to St. Martin in November 2009 to found Les Fruits de Mer, "the world's first Extreme Shallow Snorkeling team, dedicated to pioneering the sport, art and science of extreme shallow snorkeling all over the world."
When not extreme shallow snorkeling, Yokoyama spent much of the last three years hiking the island and documenting the diversity of its wildlife. The result is The Incomplete Guide to the Wildlife of Saint Martin, a book of original up-close nature photography and original research he released as a print-on-demand edition in 2010. Yokoyama is currently raising funds on Kickstarter for a revised and expanded edition. According to his campaign video, the more copies Yokoyama sells in advance, the cheaper he can make them and the more accessible the book will be to the island's kids. (He freely acknowledges playing the "do it for the kids" card.)
As he tells T+L below, the book is also a great resource for visitors to the island with an interest in nature and local culture.
Q. What are you doing on St. Martin and how did you come to document the island's wildlife?
As a child, I was very interested in wildlife and wildlife photography, but I grew away from that in my teens. I ended up in St. Martin after developing a love of scuba diving and underwater photography. Spending all day wandering the hills taking photos of insects was a natural next step, and now I'm doing exactly what I loved to do when I was ten-years-old.
Here are a few recent travel stories that piqued the interest of T+L's news team.
Be careful where you shake, folks. USA Today reports that the FAA is looking into possible safety violations after a group Colorado College students lead a Harlem Shake on a recent Frontier Airlines flight. (Amy Farley)
United has launched an official investigation of the crew that threw Live and Let's Fly blogger Matthew Klint off the plane for snapping photos of his business class cabin. Klint's takeaway? The seven words you shouldn't use on an airplane. (Nikki Ekstein)
Farecompare founder Rick Seaney has great advice for people traveling in a group (including families): save money by searching for airfare one person at a time. We’d explain here, but best to just go straight to his brilliant USA Today column. (AF)
Oh, the people you'll meet. Novelist Nathaniel Rich finds himself sharing intimacies, aspirations, and a little bit of heartbreak with his fellow passengers on a two-day journey from New Orleans to Los Angeles on the Sunset Limited train in this weekend's New York Times Magazine. (AF)
What's more lonely than being in a strange hotel in a strange city all by yourself? Being without your beloved $8 M&Ms. In an essay in The Atlantic, journalist David Samuels laments the demise of the hotel mini bar. (AF)
Photographer Kevin Davies has released a behind-the-scenes documentary on daily life in one of the fashion world's most inventive ateliers. During formal visits from royals (Princess Anne) to fittings with supermodels (Naomi Campbell) and other celebrities (Lady Gaga, Grace Jones), the lively mood at a creatively cluttered London workshop is revealed in Philip Treacy by Kevin Davies, Phaidon, $60. A 20-year collaboration between the photographer and his favorite subject takes place as the milliner prepares for Ascot, Paris shows, museum exhibitions at the V&A, a royal wedding or two, and even a trip to the wilds of Connemara with his two pet Jack Russells.
Grace Jones on tour, 1998. A fitting at Jumeriah Carlton Tower in Knightsbridge.
Kevin: “Grace ordered room service around 2 a.m. and everyone perked up.”
Philip: “She's a vampire, a legend, a classic Hollywood star; a delicious nightmare and sharp as razor blades.”
Looking for some good reads while you're on the road? Here are some new travelogues written by travelers, for travelers.
The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France, by John Baxter (On sale now, Harper Perennial Press). Following the 2010 decision by UNESCO to declare French formal dining a part of humanity's "intangible cultural heritage," Baxter journeys around the country to recreate the type of meal UNESCO deemed so significant. Full of humor, insight, and mouth-watering details, The Perfect Meal is a delightful tour of "traditional" French culture and cuisine.
The International Bank of Bob: Connecting Our Worlds One $25 Kiva Loan at a Time, by Bob Harris (On sale March 5th, Walker & Company). Hired as a freelance writer to tour the most luxurious destinations on earth, Bob Harris could not get over the disconnect between the ultra-deluxe hotels and the impoverished laborers who built them. Afterward, Harris loaned his earnings to individuals around the world through Kiva, a charity that uses the Nobel-prize-winning approach of micro-financing to lessen poverty. Heartwarming and fascinating (and also laugh-out-loud funny), The International Bank of Bob chronicles Harris's globe-trotting journeys on which he meets the recipients of his $25 loans.
Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories from the Road, by William Least Heat-Moon (On sale now. Little, Brown and Company). An anthology of nearly thirty previously published travel stories, this collection by the best-selling author of Blue Highways explores the notion of discovering the "elsewheres" of the world. Journey with him as he searches for Faulkner in Mississippi, chats with Japanese World War Two veterans in Nagano prefecture, and witnesses Mayan magic in the Yucatan.
Access All Areas: Selected Writings 1990-2011, by Sara Wheeler (On sale now, North Point Press). Another anthology, Access All Areas compiles smart and engaging travel essays by Wheeler in celebration of her fiftieth birthday. The prolific British travel author (and member of the Royal Society of Literature) has selected an eclectic mix of pieces that reflect her many varied experiences while traveling. At times tragic, and at other times hilarious, Wheeler's Access All Areas covers almost all areas of the world, from pole to pole, with stops in Poland in between.
Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.
From top: photos courtesy of Harper Perennial; Walker & Co., a division of Bloomsbury USA; Little, Brown and Company; and North Point Press
The quirky new Wildsam Field Guide series will help put a decidedly hip spin on your next trip. There’s nary a photo; instead, you might find a personal essay by Rosanne Cash or an interview with a local letterpress printer (both in the Nashville edition). Hand-illustrated maps are organized by theme—adventure, music, history, food—and the “Bests” section is hyper-focused: one museum, one yoga studio. As creator Taylor Bruce puts it, “I don’t want three places to get a burger. I just want to know the favorite.” The Austin, Texas, edition is out this month—just in time for SXSW—to be followed soon by San Francisco, New Orleans, Seattle, and, of course, Brooklyn. $16.95 each.
Brooke Porter is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo by John Lawton
As transporting as any museum and nourishing as any local dish, these independent bookstores unlock the soul of a place.
Lello Bookshop (pictured), Porto, Portugal
The elaborate neo-Gothic façade of this former library barely hints at the opulence inside: carved wood, gilded pillars, ornamented ceilings, and a gorgeous red staircase lit by a stained-glass atrium. Its polyglot collection includes English translations of Portuguese lions Fernando Pessoa and José Saramago.
Heywood Hill, London
Creaky floorboards and stacks of new and old literature, history, gardening, and travel tomes lend the 77-year-old Mayfair landmark the air of a well-loved private library. Smartly dressed booksellers eagerly provide recommendations for patrons, who include Her Majesty the Queen.
Most 12-year-olds save their money to buy video games or remote-control helicopters. But Michael Clinton wasn't most 12-year-olds. His piggy bank funded a month-long visit to see family in Ireland—and so began his love affair with travel. Today, the president, marketing, and publishing director of Hearst Magazines has visited more than 120 countries. He's climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, camped in the mountains of Bhutan, and has plans to run a marathon on every continent (he has Africa, Asia, and Antarctica to go).
Clinton shares these experiences—and many others—in his new collection of essays, The Globetrotter Diaries (Gliteratti Inc.; $30). We asked the fanatical adventurer about what drives his desire to travel, where he's going next, and more.
Q: Travel + Leisure's editor Nancy Novogrod considers you one of the world's greatest travelers. What makes you so passionate about crisscrossing the globe?
A: Why is someone passionate about food? Or about art? Or about collecting art? When we are lucky enough to find something that fulfills us, brings us joy, or keeps us wanting more, then we need to pursue it. It is core to our individuality. Travel does that for me. What better way to discover more of yourself, by experiencing the world, its wonders and its people?
In See the World Beautiful (Glitterati; $85), photographer and frequent T+L contributor Anne Menke focuses her eagle eye on Mongolian horsemen, Sioux teenagers, and other style-rich cultures.
Photo by Malley Priebe