It’s a Small World After All

Thank you for buying the Small World Guide to British Columbia!

Through the years, travel books have continually reinvented themselves in response to a changing audience. Once tailored to an elite, wealthy clientele of high-society travelers, they eventually discovered the tourism-minded middle class and, later, the budget traveler who’s always looking for bargains or seeking something a bit off the beaten path.

However, we at Small World think that there’s still farther to go. A few years ago, we asked ourselves this question: if travel books are no longer written for the well-traveled elite, or for the professional tourist, why should they be written by an entire class of jaded hacks? Why should travel writers be the same old people seeing the same old things they’ve seen a thousand times before? In short, why should you need to have actually visited a country in order to write about it?

This was our dream, our passion: to start a series of travel books for people who’ve never been there by people who’ve never been there. We don’t believe that travel books should be stuffy, ‘inside-baseball’ chronicles of people who have been there and back again so often that they no longer have any capacity for surprise. We don’t think that a group of insiders, a professional elite, can communicate the true joys of travel to you, the first-timer. That’s why we assmbled a crack staff of amateurs — novice travelers, just like you — who have never left their hometowns, let alone the United States, to assemble the Small World travel guides. They’ve put together a series of books doing research that’s casual, just like your trip. You won’t find smug know-it-alls or winking been-there-done-thats on our staff; you’ll find dedicate, intellectually curious travel writers who bring you all the expertise a 1954 World Book Encyclopedia and a 15-minute Google session at the local library can provide.

So who are the Small World writers? Knowing their thirst for knowledge, love of travel, and ability to work cheap and spell words correctly, we naturally chose college students. However, in order to avoid the sort of cynical elitism found in the Berkeley Go-Guides, and to maintain our commitment to choosing writers who have never been out of the lower 48, we culled our staff from the ranks of small community and junior colleges in landlocked states. Ranging from such diverse climes as Idaho, Iowa and Tennessee, our travel-anxious team is ready to use any resource, no matter how tenuous or dubious, to tell you what the tourist might conceivably encounter. Their prize-wanting journalism tells it like it is, or could possibly be for all you know, and their articles aren’t afraid to give you what other guides leave out: hearsay, innuendo, speculation, rumor, and half-truth.

And what kind of articles will you find in a Small World travel guide? Well, let’s just take a look at the table of contents of this very edition — the Small World Guide to British Columbia. Inside these pages, you’ll find, amongst innumerable theoretically valuable resources and factual data that’s just inaccurate enough that the World Book people don’t sue us, the following incisive articles: our senior travel writer’s overview of Seattle, Spokane, and other cities near British Columbia; our culture editor’s look at nomeansno, Kid Koala and other bands that he thinks are from Vancouver; a hotly debated point-counterpoint between two of our writers over whether the capital of British Columbia is London, because of the ‘British’ thing, or Washington, DC, because of the ‘Columbia’ thing; a special ‘Getting There’ section listing highways that look like they go to Canada and airlines that offer flights to Vancouver; our weather expert’s tips on how she heard it rains up there all the time; a lengthy and wide-ranging discussion of how, in Canada, they have free health care and, like, treat the Indians way better than here, and they don’t even have an army or fight wars or anything by our political correspondent; and a special section entitled ‘Vancouver, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia: Telling the Difference’.

It’s our commitment to fairness, understanding, and not telling you anything you couldn’t find out in half an hour by yourself that’s made Small World the ninth-biggest travel book publisher in community college bookstores nationwide. Enjoy your upcoming trip to the United States of Canada, and thanks for choosing Small World: travel books by and for people who haven’t been there, but would really like to check it out one of these days.

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