GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Accompanying travelers to the national park since 2002

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The Official Guide to Yellowstone

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As a guidebook publisher, I try to keep up with what books come out that help people enjoy and learn about Yellowstone. So, when there’s a new guidebook announced, I always take a good look at it—maybe even buy it.

This past February [2012] the famous Michelin tire and guide company threw their hat in the ring with The Yellowstone Park Foundation’s Official Guide to Yellowstone National Park, partnering with the Yellowstone Park Foundation. They’ve produced a slim and lightweight book that would fit nicely in many pockets, with quite a few colored pictures borrowed from the National Park Service and the YPF itself. The only maps are in the fold-out front and back covers and show the seven regions they’ve divided the park into and the road system, with stars for a few recommended features and areas. A nice touch in this book is the “Insider Tips” by several park experts.

But ironically this is not the only “official” guide you can buy today. The other appeared first in 1997 and is a large format (magazine-size) book, which I notice grows thicker with each new edition. Called Yellowstone: The Official Guide to Touring America’s First National Park, this one also divides our large park into seven areas. It’s published by the Yellowstone Association, another of the non-profit organizations centered on Yellowstone. It has sectional maps showing facilities and interesting features in several different regions. The large colored pictures will delight many.

Both of these guides are good contributions to Yellowstone bookshelves. Still, I cannot help but be amused at the word “official” in both guides’ titles. My dictionary gives “authorized” as a major synonym for “official,” but I fail to find in either guide by whom or what agency they were authorized. Should Yellowstone Treasures also seek to become “official”?

Competition for Yellowstone Treasures

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When I opened the e-mail message this morning, my heart sank. Another guidebook to Yellowstone announced! This one is backed by the Michelin tire corporation and the Yellowstone Park Foundation (to which I belong). Wow! There’s no competing with that. Both solid and respected entities. I even wrote to Michelin way back when I was seeking a publisher for Yellowstone Treasures; got a polite refusal back from them—but then, I wasn’t the YPF.

So I’ve ordered a copy and will add it to my shelf of Yellowstone guidebooks. It’s a 106-page book and will certainly be more portable than my book’s pound-and-a half. I always learn something from the guidebooks I see, but I can’t lessen the bulk of mine and keep all the pictures and words I want to include.

I’ll go on working on the next edition of my book and probably find that quite a few people will want what a more thorough treatment of the greatest place on earth has to offer. After all, more than 50,000 readers have wanted and bought Yellowstone Treasures in the past ten years.

[9/13/13 update: I was disappointed with the limited coverage in the Michelin/YPF guide. It’s nothing like the wonderful guides we’ve used in France and Italy to enhance our travels there. And, for the record, our Yellowstone Treasures sales are now well over 60,000; e-book sales are going particularly well.]