Why can a travel guidebook be a hit book now?
It has been more than a year and a half since the spread of the new coronavirus infection around the world. Although vaccination has progressed and the number of countries and regions with relaxed entry standards has increased, there is still no way for anyone from Japan to easily travel overseas.
As the number of overseas travelers has decreased, sales of travel guidebooks have also plummeted, and the venerable brand “Chikyu no Arukikata,” first published in 1979, has been no exception. On the other hand, the “Globe-Trotter Tokyo” to be published in September 2020 has enjoyed unprecedented sales, and the “Globe-Trotter 244 Countries and Regions of the World”, which was released earlier, is now in a second printing.
In addition, the Tokyo edition of “Chikyu no Arukikata aruco,” which has long been popular among travel-loving women, and France, Korea, and Taiwan, which are enjoyed in Tokyo, also rank high in the sales rankings of travel guidebooks, and have gained overwhelming support even under the influence of Corona.
Why are travel guidebooks now able to produce hit books? The following is an interview with the editorial department of “Chikyu no Arukikata”.
A change in policy after a sharp drop in sales of the new Corona, and encouragement from long-time fans on SNS
According to the editorial department of Globe-Trotter, the first time the revision of China-related titles was suspended was on January 27, 2020. According to the editors of Globe-Trotter, the first time we had to suspend work on a China-related title was on January 27, 2020, due to the blockade of Wuhan caused by the spread of a new corona infection. Nevertheless, at the time, we thought, referring to the past cases of MERS and SARS, that the situation would settle down and things would return to normal in the summer after six months, but the Tokyo Olympics were postponed at the end of March of the same year, and a state of emergency was declared in early April, resulting in an unprecedented drop in sales.
Then, we changed our policy, saying, “Since daily life may not return immediately this summer, let’s all start working on another series.” We launched the “Globe-Trotter Red Seal” series, which has held an overwhelming market share in local editions throughout Japan since it was first published in book form in 2006, and “244 Countries and Regions of the World” and Chikyu no Arukikata Tokyo” were released. The impetus for the publication of these two hit books was the Tokyo Olympics.
I produced “244 Countries and Regions of the World” as a book that would allow me to quickly look up and learn about the country at the opening ceremony and medal awarding ceremony of the Olympics, and “Tokyo” because I wanted to participate in the Tokyo Fair that was to be held in bookstores across the country as the city attracted worldwide attention due to the Olympics, as well as to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first issue. It was also produced to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first issue. The combination of factors such as the new Corona, the postponement of the Olympics, and the exclusion of Tokyo from GoTo, as well as the spread of gratitude from “Globe-Trotter” fans on social networking sites for the help they have given us in the past, led to unprecedented sales.
How did the “Tabi no Zukan” series and the “aruco” Tokyo series get started?
The first volume of the “Travel Illustrated Book” series, “244 Countries and Regions of the World,” is currently in its fifth printing and is still a hit. Festivals of the World” is scheduled to be published in October 2021. Each of these books has been well received by online bookstores, ranking high in sales in the illustrated book category, beating out the standard illustrated book series produced by major publishers over the years.
On the other hand, the “Chikyu no Arukikata aruco” series will simultaneously release France, South Korea, and Taiwan on July 27, 2021, as the first domestic edition of “Tokyo” and “Overseas Series to Enjoy in Tokyo” on the 10th anniversary of its first publication. The “Globe-Trotter” staff, who have many years of experience in overseas reporting, will delve into the charms of Tokyo from a new perspective, and “Enjoy Tokyo in Northern Europe” is scheduled to be published in November 2021.
The Tokyo edition of “Globe-Trotter aruco” was decided to be published in September 2020. We received a lot of requests from people who wanted to read the Tokyo edition of “Globe-Trotter aruco” as well as “Globe-Trotter aruco,” and since many people would be visiting Tokyo next summer for the Olympics (we believed that), we decided to create an overseas series to enjoy in Tokyo as well. More than anything, we thought that since we couldn’t travel abroad due to the Corona disaster, we could propose a travel experience by introducing popular spots and experiences of foreign countries and regions in Tokyo.
Read it and you’ll understand, whether you’re a beginner or a repeat traveler.
When you read “Globe-Trotter Tokyo,” the “Tabi no Zukan” series and the “aruco Tokyo” series, you will be overwhelmed by the amount of information they contain. There is a great deal of information and photos of sightseeing spots and stores introduced in them.
In particular, “aruco Tokyo” retains the “petit adventure” feature at the beginning of the magazine that was always included in the overseas version of aruco, and includes articles such as “Go to the too-good-to-be-true Starbucks,” “One-day trip around the world,” and “Find the best free night view! Even if you know a lot about Tokyo and have lived here for a long time, you can still find interesting and deep content that goes further than that.
In the “aruco Tokyo in France” series, there is a recipe for authentic French cuisine using take-out, and in the “aruco Tokyo in Korea” series, there is an article titled “Start your next trip to Korea here! In “aruco Tokyo Enjoy Korea,” you can find information on popular Korean TV drama locations and sightseeing spots. It is this extra information that makes travel lovers happy.
In fact, many people have commented on the book, saying, “It’s fun to read about so many places I don’t know about even though I’m a Tokyoite,” or “It changed my image of Tokyo. I want to go around the world in Tokyo,” “It’s like reading a guidebook for France, Korea, and Taiwan,” are some of the comments the editorial department has received one after another.
In addition, the “Chikyu no Arukikata Goshuin” series, which is expanding one after another, is also well worth reading. In addition to information on temples and shrines throughout Japan that are associated with cats, the book includes information on red seals for cats, prayers for lost cats, and even cat holy sites, making the book cute to look at and a must for cat lovers.
On August 24, 2021, “Charming Boat Trips around Japan with Gofunin” will also be published. More than 50 shipping companies throughout Japan, from Hokkaido to Okinawa, have “Gofune-in,” which is a ship’s version of a red seal, and it also covers route maps and highlights of ports of call. It is truly a new way to enjoy domestic travel.
Online tours, in-flight meals, and other collaborative projects are coming soon!
The company also collaborates with travel agencies and airports to offer travel plans that can be enjoyed at home.
In collaboration with HIS, a major travel agency, the company will offer online tours of Taiwanese cuisine and French pastries as part of the “Overseas Petit Adventure at Home” program, and will also sell in-flight meals in collaboration with airports.
In particular, the in-flight meals in collaboration with Haneda Airport will include popular Asian dishes such as Thai massaman curry and Taiwanese fork-fried rice, as well as a leaflet with advice and one-point comments on “additional spices” recommended by the editorial staff of “Globe-Trotter aruco. The leaflet is available at the Haneda Airport online store in limited quantities. People living in rural areas who find it difficult to travel to Tokyo can enjoy the book and in-flight meals or online tours.
“The first set of in-flight meals sold by Haneda Airport sold out immediately after its launch in March of this year. The first in-flight meal sold out in March this year, and a total of 3,000 sets have been sold to date. It’s hard for people to travel nowadays, so we wanted to give them a taste of travel even at home with books and in-flight meals, and that’s how we came up with this collaboration project.
“Why I insist that the time to resume overseas travel is now.
The time will come in the near future when we will be able to travel abroad again. While the editors of Globe-Trotter say that they are “of course preparing for that time,” they also say that “the period between the resumption of overseas travel and the ability to travel freely is very important.
“We check the situation in each country overseas and travel restrictions on a daily basis, and if demand for overseas guidebooks picks up again, we are ready to produce a revised edition immediately. We also distribute the latest information on overseas countries and regions via the Internet and social networking services.
The “Globe-Trotter” has long been known as the “bible for travelers. The editorial department of “Globe-Trotter” says, “The original mission of this book was to get readers out of the airports in Japan with this book and bring them back to the airports in Japan alive and well. That hasn’t changed since the days when there was no Internet,” he said, “and now the same thing is about to happen.
The same thing is going to happen now,” he said. “You can get the latest information online while traveling, but that’s only possible because you have time. When something happens, the last thing you can rely on is your own instantaneous judgment. It is possible to lose everything while stopping on the street to look something up on the Internet. I wish I could tell you what you need to do now to learn how to think and what you need to do to prevent that from happening.
What we can do now, when it is difficult to travel overseas in real life, is to enjoy the feeling of traveling close at hand and to increase our knowledge of the destination. In the past, I had the impression that general travel guidebooks contained information on major sightseeing spots, security, local conversation, etc. However, you cannot make full use of this information unless you go there, and the situation may have changed drastically after Corona.
One of the reasons why the “Chikyu no Arukikata” series has continued to gain support is because it has always been distinct from other travel guidebooks. The new “Globe-Trotter” series is full of ways to have fun even if you cannot travel abroad.
The information and data in this article are current as of August 31, 2021.
Text and photos (except as noted)： Aki Shikama
Travel journalist and photographer. He is a travel journalist and photographer who covers, writes about, and photographs airplanes and airports. Has visited all prefectures in Japan and about 40 countries and regions overseas. Lecturer at Nikon College. Former reporter for a national newspaper. Owns about 40 copies of "Chikyu no Arukikata". He has about 40 copies of "Globe-Trotter" in his possession, especially "Italy," which he brings with him every time he goes, uses to the point of tearing, and buys again. He has also appeared in "Chikyu no Arukikata aruco magazine" as an expert who often flies on airplanes.