Africa is entirely peopled by wild animals, or so the travel guides would have you believe seeing as how any guide to Africa always has a lion or cheetah or something else with four legs on the cover. Of course, if one were to follow this rational, then in Paris only exists the Eiffel Tower. I guess books are just meant to be marketed and judged by their covers.
But getting around that whole “book thing”, Offbeat Guides is doing something interesting in that they custom make guides for you on order. It’s an interesting concept given how electronic all the information for travelers is these days. Curious as to how it worked, I shelled out $10 USD to get the guide for Nairobi in PDF format, although you can also order a printed version if you really want to, but it takes longer and costs a lot more.
Once compiled, I downloaded the guide and after perusing it, I have to say that it’s a lump of rancid ugali. Essentially it consists of all the information from the Wikipedia article as well as the Wikitravel article. Tossed in are a couple of references to Wikipedia articles on two of the large parks as well as some culled data from weather websites and a screenshot of Google Maps.
For $10, I have to say that this is pretty weak, especially considering that Nairobi is a major tourist destination and you can buy Lonely Planet’s electronic guide for $4.62. Of course you can also just open up the various wiki pages and save them to your computer locally to avoid spending anything.
I suppose that Offbeat’s attitude towards Africa is to be expected to some extent given that they’re based in San Francisco and well… I was going to say that it’s not Paris, but again, it’s a major destination and for $26 you can get a whole, proper paper guide from Rough Guides just to name one of many who publish on Kenya. I’m actually curious as to the whole legality of this since their citation page at the back looks like this:
Wikipedia, Nairobi — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nairobi
Wikitravel, Nairobi — http://wikitravel.org/en/Nairobi
Wikipedia, Nairobi National Park — http://en.wikipedia.
Wikipedia, Lake naivasha — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Eventful — http://eventful.com
Zvents — http://zvents.com
Upcoming — http://upcoming.yahoo.com
Accuweather — http://www.accuweather.com/
Yahoo Finance — http://fnance.yahoo.com
Google Maps — http://maps.google.com
Yelp — http://yelp.com
They’re not specifically citing what text and photos come from where as is mandated by Creative Commons. Also, they are trying to put out the guide under a 1.0 agreement when the source material came from a 3.0 page. I’m not a lawyer, but I’m assuming you can’t just change the agreement on something that’s been released under one specific agreement.
Also, in terms of Google Maps, can you sell off their map images like that? I would venture a guess as to no since this is a commercial venture. Just my two cents on all this as I feel like I’ve had my $10 ripped off for stuff that not only I can get for free, but also shouldn’t have been bought in the first place. And given that they feel like they can so freely use the CC license with abandon, if anyone wants this crappy guide PDF, I’ll happily email it to you, although prepare to be let down.