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New in our Gear Guide: Books, Maps, Software

OK, so there was a gaping hole in our Gear Guide: No actual guides; not even a single map. Well, those days are over, folks: we've just added more than 500 new guidebooks, trail maps and software titles that'll talk to your GPS units.

Topo Explorer Deluxe DVD
  Topo! Explorer Deluxe.
Deep Survival -- Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why
Deep Survival.

We added the GPS software first, but Murphy's Law and Microsoft have trained us to expect batteries to die and software to crash at the moment of greatest need, so we immediately moved on to old-fashioned paper maps and guidebooks.

The categories are straightforward: A section for skills books (a fave: identifying animal skulls) and maps and guidebooks divided by geography that succinctly define how Americans see Planet Earth: North America and all the rest. Global outdoors coverage is on the to-do list, of course, but we're going with what we know before taking on the whole world.  Each region has separate sub-categories for books, paper maps and software.

We're doing all this at a pivot point in the history of technology moving into the outdoors: iPhones, Blackberries and other gadgets are already GPS-enabled, and mapmakers like Tom Harrison are already developing applications that will allow our cell phones to do the one thing a map can't: tell us where we are right now. Sure, GPS unit owners have done this for years, but they are few compared to the cell-phone-owning masses. 

The pluses and minuses of iPhones in the woods will give us plenty to talk about at Trailspace. The technology is so new that we haven't even added these new electronic mapping systems to our Gear Guide. But we plan to.  


Good stuff! I just post my first review for my favorite mountain book.

Maybe it'll be better not to have it under Navigation Tools and just add books & maps to the start list?

We may decide to break the category out on its own; it's not an exact fit under "navigation tools."

Our thought process went like this: Software maps needed to be in the same zipcode as GPS devices. By extension, software maps and paper maps should be in the same zipcode because they perform the same function. So once we put all maps together, it's clear they need to be categorized by geography -- as do a large majority of outdoor-related books, which are are defined by geography as well.

Once we have maps and guidebooks divvied up by geography, the last decision is "what do we do with skills books?" a number of which deal with navigation as well.

Our publishing software currently allows products to exist in only one category; ideally you put all the GPS units and their software together under one subcategory, and divvy everything up by geography in another subcategory, and have one big "books" category with a bit of both. We can't do that so some categories get scrunched together.

Yes I can understand the problem involve in splitting the categories as they bond together.

Maybe renaming it will be the best way? something along the line of "Navigation tools, maps and books"? or split into "Navigation tools and maps" + Books?

Hmm... "Navigation, Maps and Books" might work... I'll confer with Alicia the Almighty and see what she thinks.

Excellent, nirotem, our first book review.

I'll think about the hierarchy and naming too.

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