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The Rough Guide to Scotland Paperback – May 2, 2011
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The good: the e-book does have links throughout to aid navigation and hooks to get you back to the beginning of each section so it's utility isn't limited to the sequential reading of most e-books. All the information of the paper version is there...it's just hard to get at. THERE IS NO INDEX. The last section claims to have one, but I could not find any list of index words as one would at the end of any Rough Guide. This means that if you want to know about some small town or tourist attraction, you need to do a search and then sift through every time it's mentioned anywhere in the book to find the main description. If only they prioritized the listing (like the bold page number in most indexes). I realize an index is more work for the publisher than a search...but isn't that why they're so useful?
Another big failure of the e-book is the quality of the maps. It is severely limited, so zooming, though allowed, only reveals the poor quality...to the point where they are unusable. What better format to have a very detailed map?? They mention that the maps aren't able to be linked to a GPS...heck, if they were you would know you were in Scotland and which coast you were near, but not be able to read the names of anything near you. Rough Guides needs to aim a little lower and provide something useful to start---decent quality maps. The e-book also lacks a list of maps or links to show where a particular locale is. Don't most travelers want to know where a particular locale is in their planning?
As much as e-books are the future, they aren't useful unless the publishers put the effort into making them better than the paper versions. While I may limp through this trip using the e-book, I may break down and get the paper copy for the planning. Come on Rough Guides, get your act together!
The good: well written, detailed travel writing on the key sights and places to go. Good sidebars provide local color, and everything you'd expect to cover on a trip is here, including a sprinkling of out-of-the-way places that are great for return trips. There's lot of information regarding getting around, though it does grate that the Rough Guide editors assume you will never, ever rent a car unless there's no other means of transportation. Do not expect any recommendations for a day's castle sightseeing itinerary by car, for example.
The bad: the Kindle edition maps are utterly useless because they are of such low resolution. I don't understand this -- the maps in the Kindle edition of the Barcelona rough guide are at a higher resolution and far better for it. These are too small to read at normal page size on a Kindle Fire, and when enlarged are so blocky and pixelated that you can't read them. Also, there is no index, and the search function is pretty much useless: when you see the list of results, you have no idea if your search term is just mentioned in passing in a paragraph, or if that's the main section covering the item you're looking for. It seems like no-one bothered to check the Kindle edition to see if it was actually usable on a Kindle -- it's a very lazy conversion of the printed book.
Secondly, for a guide updated in 2011, there was a lot of out-of-date information on Edinburgh. For example, the section on the tram system says it is "expected to be operational in 2012". This is what Edinburgh council vainly hoped in 2008; they now expect it to start in 2014 at the earliest. Listings were showing their age with venues that have been closed for some time.
I can't help thinking there must be better travel guides to Scotland, especially on the Kindle.