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Apr 28, 2010 04:37 PM

New Edition of Italy for the Gourmet Traveler

Amazon will have them in stock on May 3rd, very timely as I am going to Italy the end of May (although it will unlikely make into our luggage) I read people complaining about the last edition was not fully updated. Hope that he did a better job this time around. I think that I saw Fred Plotkin post here some time ago and hope that he will show up again.

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  1. yes these books are MUCH to big for luggage. Just one of the reasons xerox machines are great.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jen kalb

      Even loose-leaf for the non-technically advanced would be good.

    2. That's great! Last I saw, it wasn't being released until June 16. I put it on preordered about a month ago. I'll be thrilled if I get it before the I leave on June 10.

      I wish they would release a Kindle version. Then there would be no concerns about it being t o big.

      7 Replies
      1. re: thomco

        diddo. I think that all restaurant guides, wine guides should have a kindle version. but unfortunately very few are available. Technology wise, this should be really easy, guess publishers are still living in 20th century.

        1. re: kyeblue

          Yeah, they should realize that for many people having a kindle edition is a factor in deciding which guide to buy, or in buying a guide instead of checking one (or more) out of the library, the way I did last time I went to Italy. Any recs on guides for Rome/Tuscany that are available for Kindle?

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            I bought the kindle version of Florence, Chianti, Siena & Surroundings (Travel Adventures) by Emma Jones. Not a bad read but does not cover all Tuscany. A problem of travel guides on kindle is poor quality of maps, and I love maps.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              I use Kindle on the iPad, the maps definitely look better on the bigger bright screen.

              I've bought Rick Steves' Rome for Kindle. Nice to have it on Kindle!

              I don't think 'Rick Steves' Italy' is available for Kindle. I wouldn't have bought it anyway - the only chapter of interest to me (that wasn't already in 'Rick Steves' Rome') was Assisi. Nothing on Emilia-Romagna or the Marche - where I was headed.

              I see on amazon that Rick Steves' Florence & Tuscany is available on Kindle. I'm not going there, so I haven't reviewed the books.

              1. re: thomco

                I downloaded a sample of the Steves' Florence/Tuscany book. I like the way it's got internal links (i.e., in a section about restaurants there's a link that says "click to see tipping in restaurants"). Plus of course I can annotate it, search it and make notes.

                Since I've been to Rome fairly recently, I'm not sure I'm going to get a full guidebook for there. I did download a sample of the Kindle book Experience Rome -- for $2.50 it's probably worth buying. I also downloaded a sample of the Kindle book A Passage to Roma -- which has some nice walking tour itineraries and other good tips.

            1. re: vinoroma

              Speaking of iPhone application, Michelin just released Italy 2010 today at $9.99, a deep discount off the printed version. And this time they did it right by making everything offline.

          2. Here is a link to some interesting off-the-beaten track places in Italy: For the reference of those who want books on Kindle: One of the reasons that some books do not appear on Kindle is that it is financially untenable. The amount of effort and expense it takes to write and update Italy for the Gourmet Traveler is in no way repaid by putting this content on Kindle and apps. Also, we authors earnestly hope that readers actually buy our books before photocopying the pages they take on their travels. It is the faith that readers put in authors by purchasing our books that enables us to keep doing the research and writing to give you the most up-to-date and interesting info. Think about it: would you expect a winemaker to give away his wine or sell it for less than the cost of producing it? Any suggestions and comments would be most welcome as this is an issue authors struggle with: how to best serve our readers and also make a decent living. Thanks! Fred Plotkin

            12 Replies
            1. re: Fred Plotkin

              Im all for buying significant books and continuing to support press and print publishing in these tough times.- Ive bought 3 versions of your book so far. I am recommending copying solely because the books are too heavy to carry. in my view, with their heavy paper stock. I dont know why publishers do this - I sometimes appreciate being able to find lighter editions of some books (Rome companion guide, for example) when I get to italy but that is not always possible.

              I see that Micaela Scibilia's Venice Osteria guide is now available on an i-phone app - her book of course is perhaps more geared to that mode since it is a list of restaurants with maps and descriptions. I am waiting to see an updated hard-copy version! What people forget about these electronic apps/machines is that they are not egalitarian - a book can be carried and read by all - for the apps you have to buy a particular machine and there is not a single standard.

              1. re: Fred Plotkin

                Very nice of you to chime in here, thank you! I do understand the cost issue, and definitely we are all (hopefully) talking about first buying then photocopying the relevant pages etc. But that exactly is the issue: A cookbook that weighs 3pounds and is huge is rarely a problem because you mostly cook at home, but a restaurant guide for a city other than yours is a problem: Why wouldn't you offer your book (same goes for all guidebooks) on kindle or as an app? I am willing to pay the full price for that - a guidebook can only be a good guidebook if I can consult it on the road!

                1. re: vinoroma

                  There has been considerable discussion and debate - go to and search for Kindle - about Amazon's pricing of Kindle books. One or two major publishers have been able to stand up against Amazon's arbitrary (cheap, to better sell more Kindles) pricing and to win concessions from Amazon; a small publisher like the publisher of Fred Plotkin's guidebook would have no chance at all.

                  I don't know enough about the pricing of Ipod apps to comment on the subject.

                  1. re: vinoroma

                    Vinoroma, thanks for your reply. The problem is not the reader (we do it for YOU) but the fact that when books appear in other media (Kindle, etc) authors get a fraction of what we would get on a book sale. And, to give you a sense of context, for a book we usually get somewhere between 75 cents and a dollar on each copy you buy for about $25. In other media we get pennies. To research Italy for the Gourmet Traveler I pay for all expenses myself, travel anonymously and go back to places listed in former editions as well as always looking for new places.

                    1. re: Fred Plotkin

                      so we, the readers, have to make some pressure on these "publishers" (and device people). As I said, I see no reason not to pay the full appropriate price for the book in an e-form (kindle, App, etc.) - and of course the writer should see as much money from this version as from others. Looks like the device people are the problem!

                  2. re: Fred Plotkin

                    Fred, nice to have you here. I look forward to having the latest edition of your book. I understand that the struggle between publisher and Amazon on pricing of kindle is very complicated. But I think that accompanying iPhone applications can add a lot of values to the print version guide books. For example, Rick Steves has made some very nice self guided tours for iPhone. For restaurant guides, I think that either an stand alone application (like the one by Michelin) or a lighter version that integrates with some GPS navigation applications on iPhone could be very helpful to travelers who already own the book and an iPhone. Another nice solution is to offer kindle version only bundled with the print version.

                    1. re: kyeblue

                      And yet another option is to have the publisher put it in a format that can be read by any e-book reader (including a Kindle, which does read other formats besides its own), and sell it directly. Even better, you could do what my company does and offer smaller units -- so someone could just buy the introductory chapters and the places they're going. The real way to make money in publishing these days is to find multiple ways to repackage and sell the same information, since as Mr. Plotkin noted, the main expense is in gathering and processing the information itself. You could also do what my company does and sell electronic updates.

                      The fact is, unless you make your information available in a digital format, you're going to lose customers. People are going to buy the books that are available electronically and/or use their mobile devices to look for information directly on the internet rather than buy a big, heavy, guidebook that can't be searched effectively. Last time I went to Italy I took four guidebooks; this time I'm taking my Kindle.

                    2. re: Fred Plotkin

                      Thanks Fred for posting and for you wonderful writing on food and culture in Italy.

                      By sheer coincidence, I had just sent you an email a few hours earlier. On July 2, we are going to Italy, starting in Venice, then to the lakes region of Lombardia, then down through Emilia-Romagna, Marche, Abruzzo, Molise, Puglia and Campagnia, ending in my wife's hometown of San Bartolomeo. While that sounds like and is a wonderful itinerary, we actually don't have much time before our last stop, where we will stay with family, so I want to make good use of the time we do have, and your writings are invaluable in that regard.

                      That said, I hope the new edition is made available soon - I have the 1996 original.

                      1. re: SouthernHoo

                        Dear SouthernHoo, I wil look for your e-mail and answer questions as I am able. FYI, I will be in Puglia July 16-20 and Campania July 21-22 so our paths might cross. Then Lazio and Toscana. In May I will be in Veneto and Trentino. In Sept I will be in Lazio and SIcilia. I mention all this because I want readers to know that I keep at this and already envision--in some form-- a sixth edition. The book is due to be published May 6 in the UK and June 1 in the US

                        1. re: Fred Plotkin

                          Fred, I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new edition of your book.

                          I had a trip to Italy scheduled for late April/early May, and referred to your book (and chowhound recommendations) to plan my meals and lodging though Emilia-Romagna, Umbria, and Rome. I thought I had it all worked out, when an Icelandic volcano ruined my plans.

                          The trip has been rescheduled for early June. I'd love to get my hands on your book before I leave. Hopefully with enough to to read it and photocopy the relevant chapters. The release date posted on Amazon seems to change daily. If it doesn't arrive before I leave the States, do you think it will could be found in the Heathrow terminal bookstores where I layover?

                          1. re: thomco


                            Not five minutes after I posted the above question re: when the book would be available, and I received my copy which I pre-ordered from amazon.

                            Looks like I've got some reading to do!

                    3. To all posters who offered their thoughtful suggestions about different formats for my book and those of my colleagues: first, thank you for your input and your support. Ideally I would like to create digital means of selling my research. I do loving writing, holding and reading books but know that mine is quite hefty. I wrote it to inspire readers to go to places they may have never heard of rather than simply checking listings in towns they already know about. Italy's food culture is great in the cities but many of the real treasures remain in the places less changed by tourism. So you are more likely to get better Tuscan food in a Tuscan village than in Florence. There are exceptions in certain big cities (Rome, Naples, Bologna have sublime food), but in most cases the little towns are the food citadels. You can only really learn that reading a whole book. But I am mindful of the direction that information technology is spreading, especially for topics that require frequent updates. Rick Steves, who does great work, has an excellent organization that enables him to put out content in different forms. For better or worse, I am an individual who does everything himself. It makes me known to the cognoscenti who read Chowhound and keeps me below the radar of the mass market. That is fine with me as I try to write for people who are discerning, passionate and adventurous. I welcome any and all suggestions and am grateful to all of you who have supported my work.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Fred Plotkin

                        There area few angles to this very important thread. First, auguri to Fred on the new edition: I was a great fan of the first, reading it avidly over the years with great pleasure and purely for armchair value, at least until the binding collapsed. The dilemma here is how to offer a much larger than normal amount of some fairly specialized information in one package. The business model for that print package has, of course, very much changed--for publishers, readers, but not always for authors' interests. I imagine a stable market for use-at-home travellers like me, who'll transfer basic data into some other portable device (notebook, ipad, etc), but will appreciate the book as somethign to read and savor at home. Same way with other books, such as Carla Capalbo's landmark guide to Campania. On the other hand, much specialized insight to small, out the way joys can be gotten from free blogs and other web-based sources (I think of Luciano Pignataro's amazing food/wine site for the Italian south). Don't know if there's a monetizing option here, though. And for veteran travellers with a food jones, it may be that a guide meant to cover back corners of an entire country might not be viable as something to carry. No easy answers, and always multiple sources. Fred, your authority is worth much. I'm not sure about how to license your work, (breaking it up for various 3rd parties, say) but repurposing is probably inevitable, and it's important to find out in a systematic way how likely customers will actually use or access your information. Keep up the good fight for us all.

                        1. re: bob96

                          Thank you, Bob96. You make some good points. My friend Carla Capalbo's excellent book on Campania (and all of her books, for that matter) are smaller and more portable than mine. You might notice that my book, which once had an American publisher, now has a wonderful British one. Many people who use the book are Europeans and they keep it in their car as they drive around Italy. For them, the book serves the original intended dual role of being a reference and inspiration at home as well as being available for quick consultation during a vacation. Travelers who fly to Europe from other continents have been known to do advance planning with the book at home and then bring relevant pages to Italy in one form or another. I have met quite a few people through the years who tell me sheepishly that they tear chapters out of the book to take to Italy and quickly add that they bought a second copy to keep at home for reading. Other people say they photocopy pages they need. Publishing laws say that this kind of reproduction is forbidden but my feeling (and that of many authors) is that if you purchase the book you may use your copy as you wish so long as you don't make multiple copies to circulate to people who might otherwise buy their own copy. Technically, the research I do is just experience, study, and taste all inform what I write. My opinions and recommendations are not legally protected, just the writing (the sentences and paragraphs I create) I do to communicate them. So, for many years, many generalist food writers (as opposed to lifelong Italy specialists) have used my recommendations (and those of Carla C and a few others) as their own "discoveries." There are two very famous writers (whom I will not name) who notoriously use the research and ideas of specialists who occupy niches (I am one of those) and declare them as their own discoveries. It is a source of immense frustration when these two writers make it sound as if they have done the traveling, research and reporting of these "discoveries." Anyone who speaks Italian (as these two do not) can quickly detect their errors. But I have no recourse if someone reads the name of a food product, cooking school or restaurant and then uses it in his journalism (often without even experiencing the thing first-hand). My only claim is if these people use my text. They have used many recipes of mine and then simply change one ingredient (oregano becomes marjoram) or quantity (1 tbsp of oil becomes 1-1/4 tbsp of oll) and then they are not (by law) stealing. Alert Chowhounders with nothing better to do with their time (I would rather eat) can easily figure out who these two thieves are! ....All of this is how my travel book HAS been used. Chowhounders, most recently bob96, have gently and helpfully pointed the ways to how whole books (and the content they contain) can be used in our new digital era. You see now how my research and "content" can be easily copied, shared and used with no additional fee or royalty to the writer (who is also the researcher and creator of such "content."). Persons such as myself --when writing books about food history, culture and methodology--are paid not only for what they produce, but the background and work they have put into getting there. If you go to a doctor for a consultation, she does not only address the issues she sees in you but brings all of her study and experience (previous patients who might have similar issues; observations from other colleagues) to give you the best care possible in your case. Experts in many fields behave similarly. The difference is that authors and "content creators" are not personally consulted by each reader and traveler who might be charged a small fee for consultation. For years (even pre-email and Web sites) I have received calls and letters from readers and potential travelers. I have given my time and responded for free because it is my pleasure to do so (and because readers provide wonderful input), but it is not a good business model. I recently added a page to my Web site relating to my book so that people can write in with suggestions, questions and corrections. So I am finding my way into the digital world. I have had ideas for apps (though start-up costs are high), but my apps would be in another thing I specialize in and not Italian food travel. Your continued input and encouragement are deeply appreciated. I teach you some things; you teach me other things.