The travel writing industry has undergone an interesting switch over the last decade or so. Previously, travel writers were highly skilled and area-focused causing them to be specialists rather than a generalist. This meant that a writer who wrote about Latin America would only write about Latin America as this was their focus or specialization. However, as the writing and publishing industry started to become digitalized, a work-for-hire system started to be implemented that rewarded generalists over specialists.
Alacovska believes this is a poor switch as these new “generalist” writers are not experienced enough to do the job. I agree with this take as individual writers are getting their credit taken from them in favor of promoting companies’ names. Alacovska states, “Similarly, publishing entities worked to strengthen their companies’ brand recognition through corporate collective authorship at the expense of individual professional authors” (Alacovska). This new style not only compromised the work of the authors, but also made the work worse. In order to compensate for this, companies would enforce strict guidelines onto their writers, so it became pretty hard to fall out of line with the rules given. This “deskilling” of writers as Alacovska put it has made guidebook writing a looked-down upon industry as now it seems just about anybody can do it without honestly knowing about the place they write about.
“Guidebook writers are considered ‘‘talentless freeloaders’’ or ‘‘pulp producers,’’ while the genre itself is viewed as a sanctuary for ‘‘second-rate (literary) talents’’ in search of paid vacations” (Alacovska).
The fall of the guidebook writer is the fault of the companies. An industry that was already looked down upon by other writers has now only buried themselves deeper in the literary world through generalizing the work. The business focused world that has come of guidebook writing through digitalization is a sad one as many talented writers are getting overshadowed in order to promote a company’s image.