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Reader Participation Day: Is Your Guidebook Actually Bound, Or Do You Prefer Pixels?


Quick: Do you read, or tap?

How do you navigate your national park visits?

Are you someone who needs to actually experience the tactility of a printed and bound guidebook, one with pages that can be dog-eared, notated, cluttered with Post-its, and tossed into the backseat when you're done with it? Or are you right at home with a digital guidebook, whether the material is displayed on an iPhone, iPod, iPod touch, Kindle, Sony Reader, or some similar digital media device?

In this day and age, travel material such as lodging pricing, restaurant listings and menus, and shops can be outdated by the time a guidebook is actually printed, while electronic guidebooks can be updated almost on the fly. And yet, digital media can be frustratingly small with screens that tax both your eyes and your patience. And yet, they are so compact it's easy to slip many of them in your pocket or daypack for reference out on the trail. Not that you can't do that with a printed guidebook, but sometimes they're not always the most portable.

So, tell us travelers, printed or digitalized?

Bonus question
: Which guides do you find most reliable and authoritative?


Both, but I tend to print the digital versions. I have a Trails subscription I use to grab trail descriptions either I don't own the books for or that I want to print to take with me. I love when I can access the digital version of a book I own. For actual travel, I keep it low-tech and easy to access: I take a notebook full of sleeve protectors stuffed with maps and printouts of trail descriptions from Trails, web pages, etc. to supplement the one or two trail guides I take. For backpacking, I sometimes print one trail guide two-up so I have a tiny booklet to keep in my pouch.

I'd say both also. We usually make a small notebook of things we want to see or check out, phone numbers of guides and outfitters, etc. Most of the back-up information is on the computer or books that stay in the car. Once we leave the trailhead it's usually just a laminated USGS topo with notes scribbled on it. I laminate them now, after seeing what a stream-crossing gone awry can do to a paper map.

You guys are pretty organized. I like the idea of using sleeve protectors with printed pages of specific maps/trail descriptions. Kirby, what do you use to make notes on laminated sheets? Don't they rub off?

I am all about the guidebooks -- not only can I dogear, bookmark, mark things I want to do and stick things between the pages, they look awfully nice on my bookshelf as souvenirs of my travels.

Sharpie, Kurt. It will rub off if you wipe it or get it wet immediately after writing, but after several minutes it's usually permanent unless you wipe it with acetone. And since I rarely fall into acetone-filled streams, it's all good.

I do a helluva lot of online research prior to and during [when possible] trips.

On a trip to the USS Arizona Memorial and others I found the 'Oahu Revealed" book and it's sisters to be quite helpful.

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