South Pacific Handbook R.I.P.

Posted by Chika On 12:23 PM 0 comments


One of Moon's original authors has parted ways with Avalon Travel Publishing after 28 years but will continue to post South Pacific content on his website. The list of authors cut from Moon Publications now ranges from yours truly to David Stanley, Bill Weir, and even the founder, Bill Dalton. And it's all about money, or lack of, due to declining sales, poor marketing and distribution, and the relatively high royalty rates granted to early authors such as myself and David.

South Pacific Handbook RIP

I regret to inform you that a 9th edition of Moon Handbooks South Pacific will not be published. After 28 years and eight editions, Avalon Travel Publishing and I have decided that it will not be practical to produce a new edition.

There are a number of reasons for this, beginning with the numbers. Over the past 10 years, sales of Moon Handbooks South Pacific have dropped. The 7th edition (2000) sold a third less copies than the 6th edition (1996), and the current 8th edition (2004) has thus far sold just over half as many copies as the 7th.

Why are sales going down? Competition from other guidebooks and the internet is the obvious answer. Many people believe they can find enough free information online to make a printed guidebook unnecessary. What they don’t realize is that much of what is found on websites is dubious and incomplete, or just one-sided advertising. A majority of travel websites are run by companies which want to sell you their products or individuals eager to share travelers tips with their peers. The discipline and quality control exercised by a professional book editor is usually missing.

Since 2000 my book has faced strong competition from Lonely Planet South Pacific and Micronesia. It would be inappropriate for me to criticize that book here, but suffice it to say that the coverage there is far less consistent and detailed than that in Moon Handbooks South Pacific. Lonely Planet is a monopolistic corporation which has pushed Moon titles off the bookshelves in Australia, New Zealand, and much of Europe. Doubtless they’ll be pleased to learn of Moon Handbooks South Pacific’s demise because with no remaining competition other than Frommers South Pacific, they’ll be able to space new editions of South Pacific and Micronesia further apart and cut back on the cost of researching off-the-beaten-track locations.

South Pacific Handbook RIP by David Stanley