Thirty Years in the Field: Guidebook guru David Stanley reflects on the history of Moon Handbooks

davidstanley.jpgHis territory includes the South Pacific, Micronesia, Alaska, Eastern Europe, and Cuba, areas which David traveled back when you could camp on the beach in Bora Bora if you didn’t want to pay at the island’s only resort. In a piece he just wrote for Pacific Magazine, “Just Pretend it Isn’t Me: Thirty Years as a Guidebook Writer,” David recalls his work on some of the first Moon Handbooks titles. Moon is a guidebook series by Avalon Travel Publishing which now has over a hundred titles. David’s South Pacific handbook has been the most trusted travelers’ tome to this vast stretch of the earth and his website, www.southpacific.org remains a popular resource as well. Alas, Moon Handbooks South Pacific‘s eighth edition will be the book’s final printing. Increased competition and the Internet have contributed to declining sales … but this wasn’t the case back in the day, when David was researching his first edition:

“In 1976 and 1977 I made two extensive trips to Indonesia accompanied by a slim red volume titled Indonesia, A Traveler’s Notes. Each winter when I returned to my job as a customer service representative at a Caribbean resort, I dutifully typed out my own impressions of Indonesia and mailed them to the guidebook’s author, Bill Dalton.”

That’s how it started; next he knew, he bought a plane ticket with fifty stops between Los Angeles and Singapore, and found himself in increasingly unexpected position: “Evidentially the airport officials became suspicious when they saw me writing in my notebook while awaiting my flight, and someone commented that they’d seen me prowling around the airport perimeter the week before.” [LINK]

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