Lonely Planet Taiwan - New Edition

Speaking of the next Robert Storey…

according to a blog i saw on the internet the other day:


scroll down to last item

[I met an interesting guy last night. A guy named Andrew Bender walked in…and asked to speak to me. It turns out that Lonely Planet is finally completely revamping it’s old Robert Storey version of travelling in Taiwan.

That dated version was a bible for most first time foreigners coming to Taiwan. Now they are completely rewriting it, and Andrew Bender is in Taipei for a month cruising around and eating and partying and looking and visiting and travelling and shopping and meeting and all those other things that travel writers do. What a great job. Working for Lonely Planet.

Apparently he also researched the Seoul, Tokyo, and Amsterdam guides as well.

Anyway, Lonely Planet decides what it wants to put into it’s book, and our place was recommended by enough people that Andrew stopped by, took a look around, got the vibes, and scribbled some notes in a well worn notebook. Apparently you can’t buy your way into their guides with $, but we will be in there when the edition comes out in August 2004… ]

So a new Lonely Planet TAIWAN is coming out next summer, this summer. Wonder what the cover photo will be?

If I could vote, my vote would be for the sign directing travellers to the bomb shelter at CKS airport.


I communicated with Andrew Bender when he was in Taiwan, but never actually got a chance to meet him in person.

Whoo-hoo! (I hope his editor doesn’t “ding” us.)

The new book will be out around November not summer.

Hey, Robert Storey’s here. :rainbow:

I’m interested to know about how the a LP book gets written. Where do you start? How do you get to be a travel writer for LP? How much help does the author get in writing the book? Did you get royalties? Did you make much money from the Taiwan LP books? And, what has Robert been doing since his LP days?

I would love to hear your side of the story, Robert; your experiences writing LP Taiwan. Thanks!

This snipped from another thread:

[quote=“Robert Storey”]… I no longer have anything to do with Lonely Planet. In October they will come out with a new book written by three (yes, three) people. That’s their corporate culture now - to play writers off against one another, to drill down salaries close to zero. Lonely Planet used to be a good company to work for, but over the past couple of years they’ve morphed into another Microsoft. If you knew what kind of people run that company now, you wouldn’t buy their books.

I mostly write technie stuff now, and I really enjoy it. Travel writing is far less glamorous than it sounds. Hey, did an April Fool’s joke yesterday, and also one last year, posted here if you’re interested:




I can’t imagine an LP writer has no help, though. If you stayed at every single place mentioned in the guide, and ate at every restaurant, wouldn’t you need several years of research, by which time some of the places mentioned would have closed down?

I do wonder if LP pays for all the meals and accommodation though… wouldn’t it get pretty expensive?

LP pays its authors on a contract basis. i.e. they are paid X dollars to write a book or part of a book. Out of the payment they need to cover their own travel expenses and costs associated with researching the book.

If you are interested in working for LP have a look here on their website or if you just want to know more about LP have a look at this.

A whole month? Sure he’s not overdoing it?

I was really disappointed to find that the bulk of the 1990 edition was simply repeated through 2001, with the addition of a few details and textboxes (I like the Taroko Gorge section, though). This is a book that has been in dire need of a complete overhaul for well over ten years, preferably via input from people who actually live here, not just cruise in and out to do a superficial “update.”

Of course things change so fast here as to make any travel book outdated almost as soon as it hits the shelves. For example, of the mere three Sichuan restaurants listed in Taipei, Chili Garden is under new name and management, and all those branches of Kiki Sichuan (Lan Hsin-mei’s chain) have now been around for a few years.

I found it somewhat helpful in my first few months, but after that far more complete information was available from locals, fellow expats, and now here at forumosa. I can’t count how many times I’ve been some place here that “everyone knows about,” but there’s no mention at all in LP. Seems to me there’s vast room for improvement. Thoughts?

Yes, even with places that no longer existed after the 1999 earthquake.


The entries for Tainan, Chiayi, and Kaohsiung are more or less completely useless. Almost every single establishment has changed since the last update.

Actually the first LP Taiwan book was almost word-for-word Storey’s guidebook to Taiwan which had been published earlier. I have a copy in the States somewhere. I must have gotten it in the late 80’s, probably at the Lucky Bookstore. :laughing:

I still get a lot of good use out of my LP. I find it useful for identifying nice places or areas to see, and the street maps are also good. As posters above have said, pub and restaurant info. goes out of date quickly, and anyway there are other resources one can use for this kind of information.

When the new edition comes out, I’ll buy it, but I’ll certainly hang on to the Robert Storey one and continue to refer to it.

That’s a month for just Taipei City. There are two other writers covering the rest of the island.

Yes, Mod Lang, most travel guidebooks are totally useless. I agree with you. Six months after the writer writes his her stuff, and six months later to publication date, and the book is already outdated. You are right. It’s just a market niche publishers use to make money.

Real travellers don’t carry guidebooks. And don’t need them either.

I’m not sure if it was as a result of the earthquake or something else, but I remember turning up at Alishan back around then, LP in hand, to discover the ‘10,000-year-old sacred tree’ had become ‘10,000-year-old sacred kindling’. We couldn’t have missed it by much - it was still in pieces on the ground. OK, that one probably wasn’t the guidebook’s fault, it just made me think of it :slight_smile:

Daasgrrl, ha ha… now that you mention it, the tree’s always shown standing upright in pictures and it was definitely horizontal the last time I saw it (early March).
Electrical boxes are now being painted with strange scenes in Chiayi city; including an upright sacred tree.

re the new Taiwan edition and the LP publishers, this just in:

The Lonely Planet publisher is on “Everywhere You Are” Independent Bookstore Road Trip

Starting today, the Lonely Planet will begin an
ambitious campaign to visit more than 100 independent booksellers in the USA
during the month of May. The company has rented a 32-ft. RV, which it
will drive more than 5,500 miles through 26 states on the East Coast,
in the South and throughout the Midwest.

The road trip dovetails nicely with the company’s philosophy, Todoroff
said: “The essence of Lonely Planet means taking risks, leaving behind
the everyday, experiencing a culture first hand, and discovering the
people, the history and the land. What we truly believe here is that
when you travel, you make connections. Having one-to-one experiences
is invaluable. Jumping on a plane and getting to every city to see our
customers was not feasible, but driving cross-country made sense.”

Officially dubbed the 2004
Lonely Planet “Everywhere You Are” Independent Bookstore Road Trip,
the 27-day journey begins in New York City and ends in Chicago.

No word if the tour will hop to Taipei, but maybe.


Learn something new every day.

When someone asked the editor at Lonely Planet recently why they chose that SAD name for a publishing firm, ie, LONELY planet? he said that co-founder Tony Wheeler in Australia liked the Joe Cocker and Leon Russell
song “Space Captain” and decided to call the company “lonely planet”
from the song’s lyrics…

DETAIL LACKING HERE: read below for spoiler!

Oops. It turns out it was “lovely planet” in the song. So the company was mistakingly or mistakenly named incorrectly. Probably Wheeler was stoned.

Anybody got the entire lyrics?

more details on LP name:

“once while travelling across the sky this lonely/lovely planet caught my eye”

Over 27 years ago, when Tony Wheeler sat in a movie theater watching “Mad Dogs & Englishmen”, he picked the name from the song ‘‘Space Captain’’ that featured in the film.

Q: How did the guidebook come to be named ‘Lonely Planet’? Whose idea was it?

We needed a name, we’d been to a movie called Mad Dogs & Englishmen, the '60s rock & roll band on the road affair with Joe Cocker and Leon Russell. And the name came out of a song in that film – Space Captain – except the line

“once while travelling across the sky this lonely planet caught my eye”

was actually ‘lovely planet.’

So the name was a mistake. I never get the words of songs right.

LoVely planet would have been naff.