Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?

Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?

According to The Daily Telegraph, writer Thomas Kohnstamm admitted to faking large sections of The Lonely Planet guidebooks he wrote.

THE Lonely Planet guidebook empire is reeling from claims by one of its authors that he plagiarised and made up large sections of his books and dealt drugs to make up for poor pay.

Thomas Kohnstamm also claims in a new book that he accepted free travel, in contravention of the company's policy. His revelations have rocked the travel publisher, which sells more than six million guides a year.

Mr Kohnstamm, whose book is titled Do Travel Writers Go To Hell?, said yesterday that he had worked on more than a dozen books for Lonely Planet, including its titles on Brazil, Colombia, the Caribbean, Venezuela, Chile and South America.

In one case, he said he had not even visited the country he wrote about.

"They didn't pay me enough to go Colombia,'' he said.

"I wrote the book in San Francisco. I got the information from a chick I was dating - an intern in the Colombian Consulate.

"They don't pay enough for what they expect the authors to do.''

If the pay was so bad, one has to wonder why Kohnstamm agreed to write the travel guides in the first place. If he was talented enough to fool The Lonely Planet’s editors, one would think he should have tried his hand at fiction.

But more striking is why a publishing company (in this case Three Rivers/Crown) would reward a writer who admits to defrauding another publisher with a publishing contract. With other non-fiction books having difficulty passing the truth test, I’d think that a publisher would be hesitant to publish a book from an admitted liar.

(Blog entry cross-posted here.)