St. Martin’s Press will end its partnership with the Harvard-based, student-produced travel guide series Let’s Go after more than twenty-five years. St. Martin’s, which provides Let’s Go with final edits, printing, distribution, and advertising, will continue to put out Let’s Go guides through fall 2009–one set of 15 books will come out this November, and another 15 next year. But after that, Let’s Go will need to find another publisher.
According to David Moldawer, the St. Martin’s editor who works most closely with the student editors, Let’s Go’s five-year contract with St. Martin’s was up this year, but the two decided “a few months ago” to go their separate ways. Mr. Moldawer described the move as “a change in our publishing strategy and how we see the travel book market.”
Mr. Moldawer would not elaborate on how St. Martin’s strategy has changed. But he did acknowledge that the travel guide industry has been hurt by the Internet because travelers can now get free, user-generated advice online instead of paying for an expert’s opinion.
The news comes six years after a report commissioned by St. Martin’s concluded that Let’s Go suffered from “numerous editorial weaknesses” and was “out of step” with the rest of the travel guide market. According to the Harvard Crimson, the report recommended Let’s Go shutter, rethink itself, and relaunch under a new name: “It is extremely difficult to change an image of a brand which has lost its stature as a leading brand, especially when the re-positioning is not supported by heavy marketing and advertising dollars,” the report said
According to Harvard senior Ines Pacheco, just days into her tenure as Let’s Go’s Publishing Director, she and other members of the staff have been discussing alternatives for going forward after the St. Martin’s contract runs out.
“Let’s Go is not going anywhere.” Ms. Pacheco said. “We’re exploring all the usual channels. We’ll probably talk to some publishers; we’re exploring self-publishing. We’re looking at everything.”
Ms. Pacheco said the possibility of an online-only Let’s Go has not been ruled out.