Why WH Smith are screwing travellers

13 August 2009

One of the following statements is a fact:

a) there's nothing interesting to see in Gothenburg

b) it hasn't occurred to anybody to write a travel guide about Gothenburg

c) the deal WH Smith recently struck with Penguin to stock only their travel guides means that, despite their pissing and moaning to the contrary, consumer choice has been drastically reduced

I can say that with some confidence, as one of the non-existent travellers that isn't "time-pressed" according to WH Smith. I always leave it to the airport when I'm going on a two or three night trip, because I'm reasonably confident I'll find what I'm looking for. Not this morning.

Twitchhiker - WH Smith

There are two WH Smith stores at Glasgow Prestwick airport, and neither sells a guide to Gothenburg. My only option is to buy DK's guide to Sweden - 95% of which is irrelevant to me - for an eye-watering £15.99. Sorry, but that really is taking the piss. DK don't provide a guide to Gothenburg, but neither to Rough Guides or any of Penguin's other travel brands. To be fair there are only a couple of Gothenburg guides kicking about, but six months ago there was a good chance an airport flying there would have stocked them. I don't even have the option of a cheap Berlitz pocket Guide to Sweden for under a fiver.

I've turned to the iPhone and am trying out a combination of apps to see me through - WorldNomad's Swedish guide in yet another vain bid not sound be completely ignorant, and Tripwolf which lets you customise your own guides. Sorry WH Smith, but you've got it dead wrong.

TOPICS:   Travel


  • Nobby
    When I book a cheap flight, I usually buy the book the same day, on amazon. Especially if it is to somewhere that is not a capital city.
  • Nobby's f.
    Great story Bro
  • MATT
    YOU pay a premium for a limited choice at an airport in other bitter wallet news the pope is a catholic
  • reel
    Why would you wait to purchase the book at the airport?? Go to the library and borrow a load of books for free - problem solved. More news just in, petrol is expensive.
  • Duaine D.
    Quite a specific rant in this article, not one that will affect a great number of readers i suspect
  • lamb c.
    What are you moaning about you plonker? This is the way it`s always been and always will be. You want a decent specific guide get it in advance and stop whinging!
  • Bill O.
    why are you going to gothenburg, it sounds shit.
  • chaps e.
    Errrrrrrrr No! It hasn't always been this way, and no - you don't pay a premium at the airports. Books don't cost anymore than anywhere else, Smiths have done this and argued it doesnt limit choice, but got into bed with a publisher that doesn't cover all destinations. In other news... Bitter Wallet readers are thick as shit!!!!
  • Bill O.
    by definition 'chaps eyes', that makes you as thick as shit. Thicko.
  • Alan
    I drive past Prestwick Airport EVERY SINGLE day. Dont you think its "Pure Dead Brilliant" ?
  • bawbag
    What a brilliant article! Good work BW, this kind of probing, thought provoking journalism is just what the UK needs. Can you outline the t&c's of WH Smith's customer service policy so I can phone them up and quote it to them?
  • RobC
    If youre in a job that entails trips to foreign cities on a regular basis or you do it as you`re rich enough , do you really think in these times anyone gives a toss for you Paul ? go away and cry and use fivers as tissue paper , next you`ll be complaining that spares for your Mercedes are expensive
  • RobC
    ...while we`re at it , I did notice you showing off that you`ve an iPhone - then you have the gall to use the phrase "eye watering" , I`ll light a candle to show my pity for you ........then use it to light a fart .
  • Paul S.
    I thought the most Pure Dead Brilliant thing is that a train went straight to it, instead of pissing about on undergrounds and on buses. Other than that, I thought I was trapped in 1989. @Duaine - it's a concern that potentially affects plenty of travellers; if WH Smith weren't capable of raking in plenty of profit by selling travel guides at airports, they wouldn't have shut out the rest of the market to negotiate massive discounts (72% percent on the cover price) with Penguin. Prestwick only flies to 35 destinations - how unrealistic is it to expect WH Smith to sell guidebooks for them all? Dickish behaviour. Fail.
  • james d.
    Why don't you just buy a travel guide in Sweden. They pretty much all speak English anyway you wont have any problems.
  • The B.
    What James said, I seem to remember about 10 years ago buying a Lonely Planet guide to Prague from Amazon which was absolute toss, so I ended up buying a DK one in Prague Castle which was far better.
  • Richard
    No city guide to Gothenburg. Whatever would Batman say?
  • pauski
    I cannot believe WHS are not on death watch.
  • Andy
    Elvis is dead.

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