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

All posts tagged reviews

Reviews and constructive criticism, part 1

Categories: On the Web
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Since we published the first edition in 2002, Yellowstone Treasures has received 84 reviews on Amazon.com. Of those, 81 are four- or five-star reviews; one each received three, two, or one star. Barnesandnoble.com shows six four- and five-star reviews, two 3-star, and one 2-star, most with no text.

Naturally all this positive response made me happy. My main goal in writing such a detailed guidebook has always been to provide visitors with a really useful book. The occasional constructive suggestions offered online and in person by my readers contributed to the gradual improvements that my editor Beth and I have incorporated in the next two editions.

An article called “The Best Reviews Money Can Buy” caught my eye in the August 26 New York Times Sunday Business section. It seems an enterprising man named Todd Rutherford found a way to capitalize on selling positive online reviews to self-publishers. He wrote some himself and hired others to write them—you could buy reviews in bulk: $99 for one or $999 for 50. The system worked splendidly for a few months, but Google began to limit Rutherford’s ads and then Amazon cut back on the reviews, and Rutherford went into other ventures.

To my way of thinking, paying for reviews is unethical. I had qualms about asking one friend who had used Yellowstone Treasures in the park to write a review. It has been great to have feedback about what can be improved. Tomorrow I’ll post my reactions to the very long and detailed one-star review the book received earlier this month.

2012

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At last! A negative review of “Yellowstone Treasures.”

Categories: Trip planning
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[NEW: See comment at end.–Ed.]
Well, you might be surprised to see an author posting this for all to contemplate. I’ve always figured that if someone bought my guidebook and didn’t like it, they would just give or throw it away and not write about it. Wrong!

Here’s a lady who found she couldn’t plan her trip with this book. I had hoped that the two-and-one-half pages near the beginning where it lists all the Best Sights of Yellowstone (pages 17-19) would be just that kind of assistance to people who had limited time to spend in the park or little patience for all those words I wrote. I’m hoping that she just missed that section but that others will find it useful.

Here’s the one (out of 61 Amazon.com reviews) that got two stars out of five:
Bad for planning ahead. Good if you already have a plan
June 11, 2011
By daniela
This book is probably great if you’ve been to Yellowstone before and know where you’re going. We’ll be going to Yellowstone for the first time this year, and this book is just not useful for planning the trip. The book is a set of road-logs: it tells you what sights of interest you will find as you drive along the Yellowstone roads. There is a lot of information but it is organized according to the road location, which makes it almost impossible to plan what sights you want to see on each day, unless you read the entire book end-to-end. I typically prefer having also cross-lists of points of interest that can be used for planning.

7-14-11 Reader David Reed comments:
My suggestion to Daniella. READ THE ENTIRE BOOK FROM END-TO-END. Before you go to Yellowstone you need to have a good idea of the many, many wonders that await you, and Yellowstone Treasures is the place to find out. The more you know, the better you will be able to formulate a plan. The time you take will be well spent, even though you obviously will not be able to see everything in one or even ten visits. Have a great visit, Yellowstone is the most fabulous place in the world.

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Your authority on bears preens a little

Categories: Wildlife
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All authors of non-fiction books like to be considered as some sort of authority—otherwise, why would they have written their books? I am no exception. I have to admit it’s rather flattering to me to be called an authority on Yellowstone, although I’ve only been researching the park for about 15 years, and some people I know are still learning more about it after 30 or more years. I still mostly just consider myself a researcher.

However, the latest review of Yellowstone Treasures on the book’s Amazon.com page certainly implies that I’m an authority. I found it so amusing to read, that I just had to respond and now pass it on to my blog readers.

“Falmouth” in Boston wrote in part:

So many people have covered the reasons why this book is fantastic, so I don’t need to add more. Except I do want to say that where the author notes that you may see a specific type of animal, believe it. We saw two black bears on different occasions exactly where she stated they frequent and we saw two mama grizzly bears with a total of 5 cubs where she said we might. How cool is that?

I commented:
“Hello Falmouth,
I can’t help but be amused by your review where you said the bears were where I said they’d be. That is some kind of luck! Congratulations! I can’t claim to have any power over the bears, but I think it’s great that they appeared for you.
Hope you’ll return to Yellowstone for many more memorable vacations.”

2010

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Autumn news about visiting Yellowstone

Categories: News
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The best news is that 2009 is proving to be a record year for Yellowstone visitation. Most roads are now closed, and snow pack is beginning to accumulate in many parts of the park, but through October the number of people visiting the park has never been higher. More than 3.2 million visitors entered the five gates from January through October. The National Park Service attributes the steep rise in visitation this year to people realizing that national park visits are a good value and to fuel prices remaining lower than in 2008. Three summer weekends when entrance fees were waived may also have contributed to the higher numbers.

This high visitation rubbed off on sales of Yellowstone Treasures, which, I’m happy to say, have never been better. Comments like these may have helped:

We have just received our copy of your wonderful book in the mail and we cannot put it down! My husband and I are planning our 4th trip to Yellowstone for this Fall. . . . We are so excited and even more so now that we have found your wonderful resource which will accompany us every step of the way.

The book was a magnificent guide that allowed my family (wife, two little girls ages 5 and 7, and their grandparents), to maximize every moment in this wonderful place. Incremental details, ease of info lookup, summary on prioritizing sites, lodging, etc. This book is just like a non-electronic GPS with supporting info, as the roads are relatively simple in the park. Our copy is treasured and tattered. . . .

Everything my traveling companions and I could want to know or need to know about the area within Yellowstone was within the nearly 400 pages of this book. The next time my friends and I go back to the park, we certainly will be making use of Ms. Chapple’s work. If you are planning to visit Yellowstone National Park, I strongly advise you to get a copy of this book beforehand yourself and keep it on hand as you traverse the park.

And I was delighted to find that Amazon is including a copy of Yellowstone Treasures with the Canon sweepstakes they will hold November 9-15.

Chalk up one more for Yellowstone: Fodors.com has a forum where someone asked whether Yellowstone or Yosemite would be a better choice as a vacation spot for taking children 11 and 13 next summer. Two of the comments were: “Yellowstone has such variety in natural settings, unique environments, and wildlife . . . “ and “There are plenty of ‘walks’—rather than hikes. Places where you park your car and walk about one-half mile along a nice path. . . . Don’t think of this trip as a drive-by Disney-type experience.” I can second that!

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Lots of people are visiting Yellowstone

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There may be a serious recession, but visitation to Yellowstone was up about 17% this May over May of 2008. Reports of unexpectedly large crowds in June have surfaced, too. Of course, gas cost about a dollar more per gallon last year than this, and that could contribute to whether or not people are willing to drive to the park.

For whatever reason, the large number of visitors is great for sales of Yellowstone Treasures. Many more third edition copies have been sold in the months of February through June than in those months of any other year, ever since the guidebook first appeared in 2002. And I owe a big “Thank you” to Justin “Paul Weimer,” whose super review just appeared on the book’s Amazon page. Such comments make all the work worth doing!

BTW, if anyone reading this should happen to come to Old Faithful Inn on Saturday or Sunday, July 25 or 26, I’ll be happy to sign your book, since I’ll be sitting in the lobby those days between 11:00 and 6:00. I’m celebrating 70 years since I first spent a summer in Yellowstone!

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