Lonely Planet has always been very good at thinking from their customers’ point of view. You can see that clearly by the structure of their guidebooks, which are always built around your needs as a traveler.
Still, the most recent announcement surprised me, in the most positive way: Lonely Planet now sells their guidebooks by the chapter. You just download and print whatever you need, chapter prices seem to be very fair. Example? The California Guidebook’s chapter about the San Francisco Bay Area costs a mere two Euros. (Deal!)
Now this is a great example of a simple, yet powerful way to sell more while producing less clutter: My bookshelf is full of guidebooks in various degrees of decay, some more out-dated than others. (While I like the idea of having them around, I don’t even want to know how much I spent on this line of books right there, not even to mention packing them all the next time I move.)
Usually I’d say that offering your print products as a PDF download is hardly a special feature or great service, but simple a must-have – and that the added value is somewhere different, some kind of extra service: powerful search, recommendations and the like. But in the case of guide books, this most simple of all solutions is actually very effective. Publishers, take notice and learn from Lonely Planet…