For the last 20 years, the annual Where to Ski and Snowboard, edited by Chris Gill and Dave Watts, led the ski resort guide market – seeing off various rival books including The Good Skiing Guide, which Gill started back in the 1980s.
Now, Gill and Watts have changed course. The annual guide is no more. In its place is a new series of smaller resort guides, each dealing with a single country. The first, Where to Ski in Austria, is published on Friday 27 October. Guides to Italy and France will follow next autumn. Switzerland and North America will complete the set in 2019.
The new books are based on the same foundations of thorough research, impartial evaluation, warts-and-all text and reader-friendly layout, with lots of photos carefully chosen to convey the character of the resorts. But they are all-new, written from scratch with a new and improved structure. Chris Gill is the solo editor of the new series, with Dave Watts acting as consultant editor.
As you might expect, Where to Ski in Austria covers more resorts in Austria than Where to Ski and Snowboard did – some resorts that had been squeezed out by cost pressures are back, and some resorts are covered in detail for the first time.
And a book covering 80 resorts in Austria rather than 350 across the globe has room for more detailed analysis of the skiing. In these new books, beginners get more attention, and the broad church of intermediate skiers is split: the needs of cautious ‘true blue’ skiers are considered separately from those of confident intermediate skiers.
‘When I’m on holiday with friends and family, I seem to spend a lot of my time leading apprehensive intermediates down blue runs,’ says Chris Gill, ‘so I was determined to use some of the extra space in these new books to spell out how well each resort works for blue-run skiers’.
At the same time, the books have more information than ever for expert skiers looking to head off-piste.
The new guides will be updated every three or four years, rather than annually. ‘We’ve always known that all but a few readers made their copies last several years,’ says Gill, ‘And we came to realise that a lot of minutely detailed information in Where to Ski and Snowboard (such as lift pass prices and ski school phone numbers) served mainly to make the book date quickly: the information is all there on resort websites these days.’
These new books are designed from the ground up to be easily converted to digital editions, which will follow the printed books. But it does seem that the digital tide has turned: ‘Last year, non-fiction printed book sales in the UK rose by 9%,’ Gill points out: ‘For this kind of information, we think print is still an excellent medium’.
If you would like a review copy, email Chris Gill – firstname.lastname@example.org – saying in what publication you plan to review the book.