Questions & Answers with the Writer of Bogotá and North Coast Colombia
What is Explore Travel Guides Colombia?
In 2010, I left my job as a teacher at an international school on the North Coast of Colombia to attempt to start my own travel guide company. The goal was to write, produce and market a comprehensive travel guide on Colombia. For four months, I traveled around on a Kawasaki KLR 650 motorcycle to collect information. I then spent four months in Bogotá to write and produce the book.
I fell in love with Colombia when I first moved there and I wanted to create an opportunity for myself to be able stay in Colombia for a long time, possibly for the rest of my life. It was widely known within the travel industry that there was a lack of a truly reliable and updated English guide on Colombia, I set out to try to create a niche product that I could develop into something special with time.
Then why is the guide only regional?
I faced several obstacles during the initial project and I considered giving it up a number of times. Due to multiple mistakes, a shortage of funds and a lack of time, I decided to first produce a regional guide and then to expand it in the future.
What happened with the first edition?
The first edition was released in February, 2011, only as a printed book version, in Colombia. 1,300 copies were printed but, within a week, the project was discontinued due to a shortage of funds and other setbacks. Many of the books were destroyed and some were given away throughout Colombia. I had a payment gateway and a marketing plan on a well-developed website, but these were not successful.
What was the feedback on the book?
The book received excellent reviews from many travelers. The biggest issue with the book at the time was that I had many systems in place that I could not follow through with due to the fact that I was no longer operating in Colombia.
Why release the book now?
After leaving Colombia in March, 2011, I moved to Asia where I worked as an educator at an international school. My thoughts left Colombia and I built a new life. A series of events led me into discussions if the book still had value and could offer travelers assistance with their trips in Colombia. I decided the book still offered travelers an option for a high-quality travel guide for the regions it covers.
How updated is the book?
The majority of the book contains prices and information from 2011. I updated as much as possible through contacts in Colombia. The static information such as the history, places to visit, natural settings and the majority of the hostels/hotels are solid. Businesses in Colombia shift quickly, so there probably have been restaurant and nightlife changes and closures. Prices for transportation, tours, hostels, hotels, and other services may have risen 10% or more since 2011.
How are the maps?
The maps range from "excellent" to "in need of serious upgrades". Many of the maps were custom made and offer easy guidance. The Bogotá and Barranquilla maps need to be redone, as mapping big cities is very difficult. Unfortunately, many street numbers in La Candelaria, Bogotá, were changed in 2012 and the maps don’t reflect this change. The upgrading and updating of the maps will be a major focus when the book is redesigned next year. The maps are in all three versions of the books and also have been put into a separate free PDF for printing for easier usage. Even though the maps need upgrading there is still value in them and they can assist travelers, particularly on the North Coast.
Why is the PDF for free?
I prefer the information is used and circulated versus not being put into use. By being widely circulated, I can receive feedback on the book, which can help me understand how to improve it in the future. Travelers can also contact me and pass on information about changes, which I can research and make adjustments with time. I believe there is a wealth of helpful information in this book and that it will help travelers enjoy their Colombian vacation.
What is the difference between the PDF and Kindle?
PDF - The PDF is a complete version of the the original book. It has all of the pictures, maps and information of the original guide.
Kindle - Travel guides have limitations on Kindle due to unclear image reading and the inability to flip through a book quickly while traveling, but the table of contents is linked for navigability. The text reads just like any other Kindle book and is useful due to the ease of carrying a Kindle. Kindle owners who are tech savvy can find ways to transfer the PDF to a Kindle at no cost.
When is the print version coming out?
Due to multiple reasons the print version will not be released this year. Publishing a print version through Amazon takes time due to formatting and proof approval and I have several months of traveling on the horizen and this will be very difficult. Once I have better systems in place, I will release the guide as a print book.
I’m traveling throughout all of Colombia, is this book useful for other areas?
The focus of this book is on Bogotá and the North Coast of Colombia. For these two regions the book will be very helpful. If you’re looking for a book for other regions, I suggest you don’t purchase this book, but use the free PDF for your visits to Bogotá and the North Coast and supplement this with another book or with Internet resources. There is small section about other areas of Colombia in the book, but it’s very limited.
Who helped you with this book?
I had seven Colombians and a few foreign expatriates assist me with the creation of the original guide. The work by both the Colombians and foreigners was of excellent quality and I feel fortunate to have had their assistance. I’m looking forward to working with Colombian professionals again as the experience was highly rewarding for me. For this current edition, I worked with an American graphic designer based out of Asia and my web designer is a former student of mine, a college student based in Central America.
Why use a Create Commons License?
I find the concept of Creative Commons intriguing and groundbreaking. I believe that information once purchased should be allowed to be shared among friends and others legally. I also believe that when information is shared, the opportunities for change and improvements are greatly enhanced. Many may think that a small independent publishing company can’t survive or grow under Creative Commons due to its nature, but I disagree, I think a company can flourish under a Creative Commons license. I will use unique strategies and dedicate myself to creating high quality products that stand out from the others. I’m dedicated to publishing all of my books under Creative Commons.
The Future of Explore Travel Guide Colombia?
The ultimate goal is to update Bogotá and North Coast Colombia as quickly as possible. Either I will do this by the summer of 2014, or I will send a researcher earlier to retrace my steps to update the information. I have a publication (non-travel guide) that is going into production this summer and is due for release in early 2014. After this book releases, my focus will be to finish what I started out to do, write and produce a book on all of Colombia. I am hoping I can get this completed before the end of 2015.