Traveling through the freezing cold on my way to Borders wasn't the worst part of the research experience. Getting to the travel section only to find that there were very few "For Dummies" travel guides, and even fewer on places that interested me wasn't the worst part either. The worst part came after selecting the guides and settling down on the second floor of the bookstore and opened the first guide to find that the entire book was in black and white. One would think that with at title like "For Dummies" everything would be laid out for you crystal clear with clever illustrations for humor.
What I expected was a small, colorful very simple travel guide. Something with very clear maps and not a lot of text, after all if the target audience is dummies things should be very basic. However, the "For Dummies" travel guide isn't really a guide, it's a heavy-duty book. They were about an inch and a half thick and filled with black and white text; the only images besides the occasional map were small black and white cartoons in the beginning of each section. "For Dummies" does have some useful information; both "Germany for Dummies" and "Paris for Dummies" provide a glossary of terms in the back of the book as well as an index of the seasons so travelers can decide the best time to take their trip. Each guide has a list of icons to help make choices easier for travelers, the icons highlighted things like more cost efficiency or kid friendly. The "For Dummies" travel guide has potential, but the main problem is that it's too boring to be so heavy, there needs to be more color and images instead of paragraph after paragraph about all the different hotels, land marks and restaurants there are. The lack of creative effort greatly distracts from the guides attributes; more color or more illustrations could be used to he most important aspects of the guide.
There's an entire section of the guide detected to the "bests" of New York. Everything from hotels to restaurants to clubs s listed and not only that, but it's broken down even further into different types of bests. The best four- star hotel, best kid- friendly hotel, and the best cost- efficient hotel are just a few of the awards given. While this is a great thing to have in a travel guide because it makes decisions easier while planning a trip, it's mind numbing to have to sit and read through pages of suggestions. It's understandable that "For Dummies" wants to break everything down for travelers and suggested by the tagline "Making everything easier." However, there's a line between "Making everything easier" and overwhelming the reader. In the attempt to make things easier for travelers "For Dummies" has actually made things worse, with so many suggestions on where to go and what to do it's almost impossible to make a decision.
The audience of these travel guides seems to be tailored to the type of place it is reviewing. The Paris guide encourages independent traveling and is most likely intended for women; it emphasizes all the shopping there is to do in Paris and provides an extensive list of hotels, It even provides a clothing size conversion chart. The New York City guide on the other hand was jam packed with landmarks, tourist attractions and activities only families would be interested in. This guide directed travelers to the most irritating parts of NYC and left out some very crucial ones.
Money seems to be a very important aspect of traveling to the "For Dummies" travel guide writers. Taking cost into consideration is a good thing, but when it becomes a main priority it takes away from the other aspects of the book. The "New York City for Dummies" is especially money conscious; it emphasizes the fact that New York City can be quite costly. Yes, the city can be very expensive, however most of the prices provided in the book off. Perhaps its because the edition of travel guides at Borders is outdated, but unless people plan shop only at gift shops and other outrageously priced venues, a bottle of water does not cost $2. There are thousands of delis and bodegas that understand how to reasonably price merchandise, not all the best places in New York have to violate your wallet, and while "For Dummies" claims to understand this it still contains outrageously priced items. Also, transit fares have increased, and the guide provides old metro card prices. "New York City for Dummies" directs people to experience the fake New York; it includes places that aren't worth the traveler's time. Standing online for hours to see the top of the empire state building for 20 minutes or crowding onto busses and boats for tours just does not seem worth it. There are so many places in the nooks and crannies of the city that people could explore. Instead travelers are pressured to see the mainstream New York City that most people end up hating because they encounter irritable civilians that are just as uncomfortable and cramped as they are. This type of information is very misleading for perspective travelers and while it may be an issue with the bookstore not having the most current edition in stock it doesn't help the image of "For Dummies."
When exploring the online database of "For Dummies" one will find that what's sold in stores not online. "New York City for Dummies 5th Edition" is provided online, and thank God it's been updated because the prices provided in the edition in Borders are very off. Also, "Paris for Dummies 5th Edition" is online but not in stores and when searching "Germany for Dummies" every other German related "For Dummies" book shows up except this one. A traveler purchasing one of these guides on line is going to be better informed than a traveler picking one up off the shelves, unless they intend to go to Germany, in which case they'd be better off taking the trip to Borders.