Travel books about Tennessee have come and gone, but a perennial seller is Carolyn Sakowski’s Touring the East Tennessee Back Roads, which has now come out in a second edition. Like her first edition, which was published in 1993, about the time I began writing Moon Handbooks: Tennessee, Carolyn has driven the byways of the eastern part of the state and woven history into a set of tours.
She avoids the downtown areas of Knoxville, Chattanooga, Kingsport, and Johnson City, which is too bad, for her graceful prose could have interpreted these cities well, although it might have doubled the length of the book. Sakowski is one of the few presidents of a publishing company–in her case John H. Blair, Publisher–who has actually written a book, so here’s hoping she will come out with a sister volume about these cities.
John F. Blair has also published Touring the Middle Tennessee Backroads, by Judge Robert Brandt of Nashville. I spoke with Carolyn years ago, and asked why there was no volume for the back roads of West Tennessee. She replied that she had never found anyone who could write it.
Making money with travel books is getting harder to do. Carolyn and John F. Blair are smart to stick to books that feature history and don’t list restaurants, hotels, and the admission prices and hours of Dollywood and other places. Therein lies madness, for that kind of information constantly changes and one can never keep up with it.
I wrote four editions of Moon Handbooks: Tennessee and will not be doing the next one. Why I’m not doing it is a long story, but I have come to believe that books who try to nail that information-filled Jello to the wall are doomed to be disappointing. That’s why I am putting so much effort into Tennessee Guy.
Here’s an interesting essay about the state of the world of travel books from an author who’s been at it far longer than I have. David Stanley is his name, and he is a prince of a guy.