About Martin Dunford
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Martin Dunford

About Martin Dunford

An Interview with Martin Dunford

More About Martin Dunford

Martin Dunford is Rough Guides' Editorial Director in London and is author of Rough Guide Directions New York City and The Rough Guide to New York City.

Martin Dunford founded Rough Guides with Mark Ellingham in 1982 and is now the Rough Guides Publishing Director. He spoke to about the decision to publish the new series.

Rough Guides is 22 years old - what is it about 2004 that makes DIRECTIONS guides relevant?
A lot has changed in travel since we published our first guide in 1982. Our readership has widened enormously, independent travel is much more the norm now, and there are loads more guidebooks around as a result. Our guides - and those of our competitors - have had to become more sophisticated and better presented. People travel more, for shorter periods of time; and many independent travellers aren't on the kinds of budget we travelled on when we started. Directions was a way of addressing all these issues.

Are you in fact hoping to appeal to new readers, or is it a case of people doing more and different kinds of travel?
It's both. There are plenty of loyal Rough Guide readers who are going on short breaks and want the same kind of information that they're used to getting from Rough Guides but just don't want to spend so much time reading. Directions offers them the same Rough Guide mix but in a more quickly digested form. Hopefully we'll also attract new readers who were previously put off by the text-to-pictures ratio of traditional Rough Guides.

The Directions guides are very heavily illustrated compared with regular Rough Guides. Where do all the photos come from?
We commissioned most of them specifically for these books, with photographers making two-week trips to each city and working their way through a formal shot-list. We filled in the gaps - seasonal festivals and suchlike - with stock and agency shots.

The CD idea - it's completely new isn't it? Do you expect a lot of readers to leave the book at home and just take a laptop?
Some might, but a lot of people have the more portable PDAs now and the great thing about these e-guides is that they can be uploaded onto these. They're fantastically searchable, making them a genuinely useful alternative for those tech-savvy folk who don't want to lug a book around. Plus they have lots of links to websites, which makes it even easier to book hotels, check out venues and so on.

How did you come up with the name?
Names for a guidebook series are never easy. Above all we wanted a name that clearly distinguished these books from our regular guidebook series - the Rough Guides and the First-Time Guides. I guess we thought directions are something everyone needs when they're travelling, and we felt that in particular this illustrated the nature of these guides - the fact we do give people very precise ideas for what they could do on their trip. Specific 'directions', if you like, to enable them to hit the ground running.

How does a Directions guide actually get created from start to finish?
Well, much like our others. We decide on a title, find an author, agree a synopsis and picture list, and find a photographer to take the photos while the author goes off on their research trip, which will usually be a couple of months for Directions. Most of our authors work in Word; they hand their material in to their editor, who edits it in Directions templates before going back to them with queries, suggestions, and occasionally rewrites. Once the editor is happy with the material he or she passes it to typesetting, who convert the Word files to Quark and lay the book out, adding in the pictures and maps. The book is then proofread and the marked-up proofs go back to the author for checking, caption writing and indexing.

And all based at the Strand office in London?
Well that's our main office, but editing is also done in New York and typesetting and cartography are split between the London and Delhi offices.

So you now have offices in Delhi and New York as well as London. How does that work, across the time zones?
The most difficult thing is communication between Delhi and New York, where they're pretty much starting work just as everyone in India is knocking off. Email helps, of course, although it's no substitute for conversation. For this, if you're in London you just have to remember to talk to people in Delhi before lunch and people in New York after lunch. If you remember to have lunch, that is.

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