Offbeat Startup: Custom travel books from Dave Sifry

This could be a game changer for book publishing. A new company called Offbeat Guides produces personalized travel books based on your itinerary and travel details. It was founded by Dave Sifry, a serial entrepreneur (and friend) from San Francisco who previously led Technorati and LinuxCare. Dave has participated in our We Media conferences for many years. He’s steeped in knowledge and awareness of how the web is changing behavior and creating new opportunities to inform the planet. Here’s Dave’s blog post on the new business, which just opened for public beta, and more about personalized publishing from the company blog here.

Significance: Here’s a company applying web and technical smarts to a physical problem – with a physical product. It’s personalized media dependent on data aggregation, personalization and viral, word-of-mouth online marketing and sales – coupled with rapid printing/production/shipping of a physical product. You don’t pay for a service – which you might if this were delivered simply as a web or mobile app to your phone. You pay for a product – a book. Technology makes the product better, improves the user experience and streamlines marketing, production and distribution. The company’s founders describe themselves as frequent travelers – and if you travel a lot, you might buy lots of their books. For my last business trip, to Argentina for our regional We Media summit in Buenos Aires, I picked up a Lonely Planet guide. It was handy and helpful – but it looks like Offbeat Guides could be much better, and more timely, with weather and entertainment recommendations based on my travel schedule, location and other details.

Here’s a video that shows how it works:

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