Travel publisher goes upmarket with new "Discover" series

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Lonely Planet officially launched its new Discover series last week, seeking to broaden its appeal beyond its traditional "bootstrapping backpacker" market.

The new guides feature Australia, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Spain, Thailand and Europe and went on sale in the UK, the US and mainland Europe on May 10.

In a departure for the publisher's country guides, which are available for virtually every country on Earth, the series is printed in full color with photos throughout and focuses on the highlights of specific destinations rather than the thousands of listings included in the traditional Lonely Planet guidebooks.

Time-conscious readers can also choose "best of" lists, compiled by local experts such as Royal Shakespeare Company actors in London or official guides from the Palace of Versailles in Paris.

A selection of itineraries, ranging from short breaks to longer summer holidays, is also included in the guides.

"The series highlights the best that a country has to offer, while still providing some of the unexpected sights and activities which travelers expect from Lonely Planet," explains Lonely Planet editor Tom Hall.

"For travellers who want a well thought-out, pre-determined itinerary and an easy-to-use structure the books should be right up their street."

Prices for the guides range from €19.99 to €23.99 (£15.99 to £17.99 in the UK, $24.99 to $27.99 in the US), comparable to the competing full color guides offered by Dorling Kindersley's Eyewitness series.