GIVEN the number of guidebook-disaster stories that have arrived since our Broken Shoestring competition began, it is a wonder that anyone buys the things any more.

Matters are clearly serious when authors start nominating themselves. Philip Ward, of Cambridge, says his efforts have all exploded in his face: 'The Touring Libya trilogy just before Gaddafi's revolution, Touring Iran before the Ayatollah Khomeini took over and Touring Lebanon before the civil war broke out.' Oh, and Touring Cyprus weeks before the Turkish invasion.

He has carried on stoically. And there is a certain inevitability about the area covered by his latest book: the plague-hit state of Gujarat. Anyone planning to use Mr Ward's guide, Wight Magic, might think about packing a flak jacket before setting off for the Isle of Wight.

Readers and writers of less-than-ideal guidebooks have two weeks left to submit entries to Broken Shoestring, Weekend, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

To mark its 21st anniversary, the publisher Lonely Planet is providing 21 prizes of the new edition of South East Asia on a Shoestring.