Monday, April 14, 2008

Travelling Man: Thomas Kohnstamm

My whole world shattered this morning. Thomas Kohnstamm, a travel writer for Lonely Planet actually didn't visit the country he was supposed to write about. Instead he was sunning himself in Northern California. The story hit the wires because Thomas has written a 'tell all' book "Do Travel Writers Go to Hell" about his adventures as a travel writer. Not satisfied with that riveting subject on which to write a memoir, he has thrown in lots of naughty stuff young wild (writers?) boys do when they are writing. Oh and by the way, that book he wrote on Columbia; he decided not to go there and wrote it from San Francisco. (His girlfriend was Columbian).

As you might imagine, this info seems to have put Lonely Planet on the defensive. Lucky Thomas may have generated more interest in his title than he may otherwise have deserved but it turns out he may have embellished his writing assignment. According to LP, they say he was only asked to cover the history of Columbia so there was no reason for him to visit. What of the rest of the book then?

At Berlitz we published travel guides which were updated every three years or so. (Many were on a cycle longer than that). The company also had stringers in most locations and these people helped us update the titles when they came up for review or reprint. In today's age it is inconceivable that any publisher could get away with publishing travel guides that were inaccurate for the simple reason that we have the internet! People love pointing out when you publish wrong or inaccurate information and they aren't afraid to broadcast the news to everyone.

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