While digital textbooks have been a hot topic in education, now travel books are available as digital books. Yesterday, Frommer’s launched its best-selling travel guides as Inkling digital books for the iPad. Your suitcase may have just gotten a whole lot lighter.
If you’re already familiar with printed Frommer’s guides, you’ll recognize some of the formats that these books use, such as one to three star ratings of places to visit and highlights of child-friendly attractions. But the Inkling platform takes these features and brings a new dimension to them, adding interactive features to enrich your travel experience.
The guides are loaded onto your iPad so you don’t worry about expensive international data charges when you want to access the information. You can use these guides whether you’re offline or online.
Frommer’s has started off with its seven best-selling Day by Day guides:
- Costa Rica
- Great Britain
with more destinations due to follow in the Summer and Fall. These guides have over 3000 high-resolution photos to make use of the new iPad’s Retina display screen. They also have 650 interactive maps with layers to help you navigate and get information about each site.
I recently spoke with Matt MacInnis, CEO of Inkling, about the launch of Frommer’s Day by Day guides as Inkling books. He gave me a demo of the guides and provided me with samples to test on my own.
Using the Guides
During the demo, MacInnis showed me how a family can plan a trip using the guide’s suggested itineraries based on the duration of the trip or other interests, such as visits to picturesque villages, palaces, museums, cathedrals or nature. For example, you could plan a trip based on a one-week stay in Provence or a food and wine tour in the same area.
The guides are also convenient to use when you visit a site. Using the Great Britain guide, MacInnis took me on a virtual tour of Canterbury Cathedral, showing me the Site Guide, complete with a diagram, information and photos.
He compared the experience to renting an audio tour device, except the Frommer’s experience is visual and interactive.
A unique feature of the guides is that they are also available on the iPhone and iPod Touch. You can plan your trip while sitting on your sofa using your iPad and then use the guide on your iPhone when you’re out and about. Inkling will sync your notes and highlights between your devices. No need to lug a heavy guide book or your iPad with you when you’re touring. Even better, you only need to buy the guides once and they will work on your iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
“It’s a first for an Inkling book on an iPhone, so we’re setting a new standard here,” MacInnis said.
The notes feature is handy, not just because they help you keep track of your thoughts but also because there is a social media feature to them. You can make your notes public and share them with others. You can also see others’ public notes for opinions and current information.
Public notes can alert you to changes at an attraction, for example if a site is under construction or temporarily closed, or if a new exhibit is worth seeing. If you discover a fantastic restaurant, make a note so other users can savor the cuisine.
MacInnis points out, “It’s not crowd-sourced content. It’s professionally curated content with crowd-sourced comments.”
You can also keep your notes private if you don’t want others to see them, such as “Let’s try this pub Tuesday after we have tea with the Queen.”
The maps within Frommer’s guides provide a much different experience than paper maps. These maps offer different layers of information: plain maps for when you need navigation, or informational maps when you want to see where to stay or dine, or want to read more details about an attraction.
A very handy feature of these guides is that they give you the weather conditions and forecast for the area. When you open the title page for an area, the weather report will automatically load whether you’re connected to the Internet or not. The guides download weather reports when you’re online so you can have access to them even if you’re offline.
Within the guides are 300-400 links to websites for attractions, exhibits, currency converters, etc. When you’re connected to the Internet, you can use the links to visit websites directly and save clips to your Notes to access when you’re offline. The guides also have internal links so you can move quickly and easily around the content.
Phone numbers are linked in the guides so you can use your iPhone to place a call directly. (Be careful of international charges if you’re outside your home country).
Each book about a non-English speaking country has a language guide to help you understand the local language without having to carry along a separate book. The France guide has recorded voices of native French speakers so you can hear the pronunciation of the words as well.
“You can actually study the language with your headphones on during the plane ride over to France,” MacInnis explained.
If you’re planning a getaway to a Frommer’s guide destination or you are looking for inspiration for your next trip, check out these interactive books for a great resource for your vacation. Just be sure to pack a travel adapter for your charge cords. A dead device is as good as no device!
The Frommer’s Day by Day guides are available for $9.99 – $14.99 for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch in the iTunes App Store.
Are you excited about digital travel guide books? Are you planning a summer trip to any of the Frommer’s travel guide locations? What locations would you like to see covered by future Frommer’s guides? Let us know in the Comments section below!