Most people who have taken guidebooks on the road realize that they’re bound to contain a few inaccuracies. But did you ever consider that the guidebook’s author had never even been to the place he wrote about?
An Australian newspaper reported this weekend that a Lonely Planet guidebook writer named Thomas Kohnstamm has admitted to fabricating large parts of his books. The writer even copped to not having actually visited Colombia, a country he covered for the well-known guidebook publisher.
So how did Kohnstamm write the Colombia guidebook without visiting the country first? “I got the information from a chick I was dating– an intern at the Colombian consulate,” says Kohnstamm. “They didn’t pay me enough to go to Colombia. I wrote the book in San Francisco.”
Kohnstamm also confesses that he plagiarized large parts of the guidebooks, and accepted free meals and lodging on the road, a clear violation of LP policy.
The author covered a number of countries for Lonely Planet, including Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, the Caribbean, and Colombia. Well, maybe not Colombia. The big-wigs over at Lonely Planet say they’re scrutinizing everything Kohnstamm has written for them, but have not yet found any mistakes.
No mistakes? Hmm, that does sound fishy.
More Gadling writers sound off on the Lonely Planet problem:
- 5 reasons to be outraged by the Lonely Planet fraud
- Thoughts on the Lonely Planet scandal: Guidebooks are a sham
- ‘Unethical’ Lonely Planet author not really that unethical after all, though he wants us to think so for the sake of promoting his own book
- Choice reviews of Lonely Planet: Colombia from Amazon.com
- From World Hum: Read an interview with Thomas Kohnstamm.
- Does Thomas Kohnstamm deserve an apology?