Think Lonely Planet travel guides, except they are created on the fly from Internet data sources, customized to you personally and then delivered via PDF instantly or (a color printed version) by mail within 4 business days. Data comes from open sources like wikipedia, wikitravel, Flickr and Google Maps, as well as proprietary sources that have cut deals with the company. And you can create a guide for virtually anywhere in the world – they have 30,000 or so destinations today, and will be adding regional versions in the futures (“France” or “Napa Valley” for example).
Users can add or remove sections that appeal to them (museums, for example, or walking tours), and the guides include things like up to date weather forecasts, events that are going on during your visit, current exchange rates, etc. If you tell it where you are staying, the guide will include walking maps based on that location. An example guide that I created is embedded below.
The guides aren’t free – a printed version costs $25, PDF (which can be printed at home or downloaded to a laptop or Kindle) is $10. Unsatisfied customers can get a full refund, the site says, and keep the guide.
Offbeat Guides raised a small seed round of financing (a “few hundred thousand dollars” says Sifry) in February 2008. The first 250 people to use the code “TechCrunch” can get into the beta immediately, along with coupons for two free books.
Also below is an interview with Sifry about Offbeat Guides from last week (Thanks to Michael Pick for the video branding work). And see our coverage of Nile Guide, which is also allowing users to create personalized travel itineraries.
Paris Travel Guide By Offbeat Guides – Find Documents