Ever since I arrived in South America, it's been gnawing at me. Now, finally, I can't hold it in any longer: my Lonely Planet South America on a Shoestring guide really does leave a lot to be desired. As Agent Smith from The Matrix would say:
It's out-of-date (it's the 2004 edition — the 2007 edition only came out in March), it's lacking in detail (everything from the "proper" individual-country LP guides has been chopped in half), and half the time it's just plain wrong. Pull your socks up, LP: you have the reputation, but you fail to deliver!
The thing that really disappoints with my book, more than anything else, is the accommodation listings. If they were just out-of-date, I might be able to forgive them. But it's worse than that. Really, really popular hostels, such as Loki Cusco, and The Point in Arequipa, have been around for more than three years; but they're not listed. Finding a good place to stay is crucial, especially when you're backpacking by yourself: you gotta go where you're gonna meet other, like-minded people. Right now, LP ain't helping much with that. At the moment, I'm having to resort to researching on the Internet, before I reach the next town, as to where's a popular and comfortable place to stay.
Same with the city maps in my book. It's not (just) that they're out-of-date: it's that the LP folks decided to only cover a certain area of each town; and that anywhere outside that arbitrary little rectangle, is not covered at all. Place to stay, place to eat, place to get transport, place to party, a little bit on the edge of town? Too bad — you'll just have to find it yourself, because LP couldn't be ar$ed mapping it for you.
The worst thing is, about 90% of the backpackers down here at the moment, are stuck with this useless, better-as-toilet-paper, 2004 edition of the Shoestring Guide. And we all despise it.
What's more, we've seen the "Lonely Planet: Peru" guide, and the "Lonely Planet: Bolivia" guide — and after having seen them, we understand that we are second-rate citizens. Why must you make your continent-wide Shoestring Guide so inferior, LP? Why do we have half the listings, half the explanations, and half the tips? And why do you release new editions of your country-specific guides constantly, but wait for years on end before updating the so-popular-yet-so-overrated continent-wide Shoestring Guide?
There's competition out there, LP. There's Rough Guides. There's Footprint. There's Insight. If you don't get your act together, we will take you down. Your reputation is only as good as your books. So clean 'em up!