When I buy a guidebook, I usually look for the Frommer's $ a Day budget guides Washington D.C. from $80 a Day, Paris from $95 a Day, etc. Why? Well, mostly because I'm a creature of habit. I started buying the Frommer's and Let's Go guides years ago because they focus on budget travel. Let's Go is great for backpackers and those on a really tight budget. Frommer's is a bit more mature but still budget-minded (think hotels rather than hostels), and I like their ''Suggested Itineraries'' section and their maps (Frommer's maps are among the best). But now that there are so many other guidebooks to choose from, I buy Frommer's mostly because I can be in and out of the store in minutes rather than hours and I know I'll come home with a reliable guide. Then, just this past month, everything changed . . . I discovered something new . . . You see, when I went to the bookstore to pick up guidebooks for my upcoming honeymoon, I got an idea . . . Why not, I thought, buy five different guidebooks (from five different publishers) and compare them to find my favorite. So that's what I did. I bought one brand for each stop and then, on my way out, I saw a little Paris guide I'd never seen (or heard of) before. So I picked that up too. (I go to Paris at least once a year so I can never have enough Paris guidebooks.) Here's what I found . . . and it surprised me: My favorite book of all for both pre-trip planning and on-the-ground support is The Little Black Book of Paris. The other guides I bought are all divided into sections this way: Where to Stay, Where to Eat, What to Do. But The Little Black Book of Paris is divided by area. And each area has its own fold-out map (which, to be honest, blows the Frommer's maps out of the water). While the guide doesn't have an entire history or culture section like most of the others do Lonely Planet, TimeOut, Fodor's, etc. it's well written and there's an overview of each area at the beginning of each section. I liked the guide so much I went back to the bookstore to buy more. --Lori Appling --The Travel Writer's LifeBest Travel Series of the Year, 2008
''We select the Little Black Travel Books as our travel guide series of the year. The main reasons for designating these guides as best of the year are their portability and user friendliness. (The spiral binding allows the reader to keep the book open to a certain page.) Individual volumes are small enough to fit into a pocket, but in terms of helpfulness, they are twice their physical dimensions. The other reason these guides are so worthy of praise is the fact that each volume has a neat, tidy, and nicely detailed foldout map to the particular area under discussion. The chapters in each volume correspond to the geographical areas into which the authors divide the city for the tourist. Each chapter gives basics on places to see, available art, and entertainment venues, places to eat and drink, where to shop, and where to stay. You can study a range of guides before your actual trip, but this is definitely a commendable candidate for carrying with you on site.'' --Booklist - American Library Association
About the Author
Author Ben Gibberd is a freelance writer and editor whose work appears frequently in the ''City'' section of The New York Times. He lives in New York City.