Guidebooks as we know them have declined not simply because reading habits are shifting. The product shifted first. Guidebooks became dispensable because guidebooks, as we now know them, do not retain many of the characteristics—concision, opinion, direction—that once made them an important tool for sorting through the chaff. It’s been so long since guidebooks guided that we forgot what it means to do so.
The concept of “travel writing” is so limiting. Who wants to read about travel? That’s a personal process, and it often involves non–illuminating details such as taxicabs, tickets, and uncomfortable beds. If you drop the “travel” and are just a “writer,” you haven’t lost a yard of territory. You are still covering the whole planet.