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Wikitravel Press

Wikitravel_pressWikitravel is just what you'd expect: a wiki that's loaded with travel information provided by contributors from around the world.  What's somewhat new and interesting though is the Wikitravel Press, a print-on-demand (POD) alternative for Wikitravel content.  Launched earlier this month, the Press currently only offers a couple of destination titles (Chicago and Singapore) but I'm sure plenty more will be available shortly.  Lulu is the POD provider for this service and this is the second time I've stumbled across a Lulu project in the past couple of days.

One of the key benefits Wikitravel Press touts is the fact that all of their guides will be updated every month.  That's one of the true benefits of POD, right?  You get to refresh the material on an as-needed basis and I could see where travel content would benefit greatly from this flexibility.

It's interesting to see the various ways wiki content can be further distributed and monetized.  As I mentioned in this earlier post, I think there's a huge opportunity for someone to add a new distribution model to the wikipedia itself.

Comments

Jason Marcuson

Huge opportunity indeed. I find this one very intriguing.
And I think what we're seeing is this: Traditional book (and magazine) publishers charged with turning their content into intriguing, moneymaking online ventures. While online-only operations work toward manufacturing a physical product from their content.

It's fascinating, really. I can't help but think the chances for co-ventures between the two industries are immense. So who will best capitalize?

Joe Wikert

Who will best capitalize? I think it comes down to publishers who aren't afraid to dabble in new media forms (like wikis) and don't view it as cannibalization. Besides, if there will be cannibalization, wouldn't you rather eat your own young so that someone else doesn't do it for you?

Evan Prodromou

Hi, all. My name is Evan, and I'm the founder of both Wikitravel and Wikitravel Press.

Wikitravel contributors have created incredible travel guides for the entire world in over 20 languages. I'm so proud to have the privilege of working with such a dedicated group of writers and editors from around the globe whose one goal has been to create high-quality, accurate and comprehensive guidebooks for their fellow travellers. It's exhilarating to have a business that has such a two-way, symbiotic relationship with our reader-writers.

Since we started Wikitravel in 2003, I've visited personally with whichever of the top travel guide publishers would answer my calls. I practically begged them to re-use the high-quality Open Content guides available from our site. The response has been stony silence.

So in order to get our Open Content guidebooks into convenient book form, we had to start our own publishing company. And I'll be honest: I'm not going to feel too too bad when we eat the lunch of the people who wouldn't return my phone calls a couple of years ago.

I think that anyone who's working in a market that hasn't yet been gutted by Open Content works needs to think about the incredible advantage they'd get from switching to our model.

I disagree with Joe about cannibalization. Half-measures (like online-only projects or second-tier, proprietary peer-produced works) don't engage the community the way a full frontal Open Content, peer-produced effort does. I don't want to work on a second-rate online work that the publisher is dangling at arm's length while holding their nose with the other hand. But if a publisher is willing to put all its eggs in the peer-production basket, I as a contributor am willing to throw my lot in with them.

It requires a lot of courage and a willingness to give up that control, but I really think that it's a better step than having your market gulped down by someone else. Because there really isn't room for two Open Content players in one market; at this point it's a question of who's going to take that king-of-the-hill position first.

Joe Wikert

Hi Evan. Thanks for stopping by. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in that earlier comment and reference to cannibalization. My first point had to do with publishers needing to realize that there *won't* be any cannibalization. My second point simply reinforced the first by noting that even if there were to be some, it's best to *not* sit on the sidelines while it happens. But I still feel the problem is unlikely to arise. I'm sorry that this didn't come through in that comment, but as it turns out, I think we're on the same page!

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