Travel Guide Marketplace Guidewriters Launches

By David Knight |

A marketplace for creating and downloading travel guides specific to a certain topic has officially gone online today – and you can download Silicon Allee’s guide to Berlin’s tech scene for free!

Berlin-based Guidewriters was founded by Andreas Ebert and Stefan Deitmer, and is aimed at people who want extensive information on a city without having to undertake extensive searches or rely on their social graph.

Guides are written by both professional writers and ‘normal’ users and can be created easily through the web interface. Authors can either offer their guides for no cost or charge a fee (although non-professional writers need prior approval to charge). The revenue is split 70/30 between the author and the startup once VAT has been paid.

Andreas told Silicon Allee: “Using established guide apps from Lonely Planet or Marco Polo has never been a great experience. UIs differ, and content is often mainstream. One app for all guides, written by locals who know their city and want to share their knowledge: that is our goal.”

In particular, Guidewriters is looking to niche topics which would not be suitable for a printed book or for their own dedicated app. In addition, the founders believe that the guides will work better than ebooks, which are generally designed for longer texts with a linear reading pattern – a travel guide is rarely read cover to cover straight through. Ebooks also lack the interactivity and GPS support offer by the new service and its iPhone app (an Android version is set to be released in the summer).

Guidewriters is looking to fill a gap between searching social recommendations. Services such as qype, Yelp and Google maps take into account all opinions on a particular place. Users usually find information based on a specific search, e.g. “Sushi restaurant in Berlin.” Social services like Foursquare, however, show places favoured by the social graph.

But Guidewriters shows places that a local (i.e. the author) has recommended and which are therefore neither searched for nor included in the social graph, for example if they are in a city where the user does not have social contacts.

And this is where the idea of an “app for all guides” comes in – currently, users must dedicated guides for each place; Berlin or London, say. According to Andreas and Stefan, that’s like having to install an app for each album you listen to.

Following Tuesday’s launch, there are about 25 guides on Berlin available. Additional cities including Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne will be added in the summer. Guides are available in both English and German.