Here’s a great idea from Lonely Planet guidebooks; you can now buy only the chapters you need for certain regions of the world, instead of buying the regional book and then ripping out certain chapters for specific countries.
Going to, say, Bolivia, but only to Lake Titicaca? For US$2.00, buy and download just that chapter (of course, you’re putting the wear and tear on your printer and paying for the ink and paper to do this.)
It’s called Pick and Mix downloads.
Not all of the LP guidebooks are set up for it, although if the demand is high I’ll bet that the company will expand the offerings. For right now, you can select certain chapters for South America, Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean and some phrasebooks and Walking Guides.
Here’s a whole list of Lonely Planet digital products, including some city guides for your PlayStation Portable, audio guides and maps.
Hey, I’m old school and I like to let the guidebook publisher take care of printing and binding and giving me quality photos and maps, but if I was putting together a complex itinerary that bounced all around the available Pick and Mix regions, this would be a nice way to avoid buying a stack of guidebooks with info that I won’t use.
Of course, when I finish a journey I like to put my used guides on my “travel bookshelf” so I can look up and see my stuff from Bali, the Arab Gulf States, the US Deep South, etc., and little printouts aren’t nearly as nice to look at, but I guess that’s a small price to pay.