Verily, It Has Come to Pass….

“I think the problem (with your book) can be boiled down to one, four-letter word,” said Huntington Press Publisher Anthony Curtis.

“MaxandAlareidiots?” queried ELV.

“That’s 17 letters,” he responded.

“Oh,” said ELV.

“No,” Curtis continued. “The problem is Y-E-L-P. The market for paper-bound guide books just isn’t there anymore.

And you know something? He’s right.

Dead tree journalism is dying, and with it the public’s demand for tactile reading material.

More importantly, though, people simple don’t want to carry guidebooks around when their hand-held computers can deliver much more information for free.

The problem, of course is much of that information is worth what you pay for it.

Curtis went on to regale us with a story of some foodie friends, well-aware of EATING LAS VEGASThe 50 Essential Restaurants, who nevertheless immediately go to YELP whenever they’re deciding on a place to eat.

He then proceeded to show us the numbers and they weren’t pretty.

The 2011 edition pretty much sold out the first printing (5,000 copies), but 2012 was down by a third (even after a front page article on it in the New York Times Dining Section), and this past year’s sales were even worse.

“The last two year’s editions were much better books (we agree), but don’t come close to the first year’s sales,” is how Curtis put it. “That signals a very negative trend to us that may be irreversible.”

Right again, Anthony.

All of this is by way of saying that EATING LAS VEGASThe 50 Essential Restaurants, by John Curtas, Max Jacobson and Al Mancini may be deader than Woodrow Wilson.

We say “may be” because Curtis — a good guy who loves the book — left the door open to revisit things next summer, but ELV (who is rarely wrong about these things, see: All Forked UpĀ  starring John Curtas and Al Mancini on the Travel Channel *), senses that the time of the guidebook has passed.

YELP killed Zagat — a much bigger operation than our pipsqueaky publication — and it drove Michelin away from everywhere in America but a few huge cities, so we’re in good company.

The problem remains that people who are hungry for expert opinion on where to eat (not to mention well-written opinion on where to eat) now must wade through a swamp of stupidity to find a few nuggets worth digesting.

But the information is out there, be it a blog, a magazine article, or the occasional talented-yet-opinionated-amateur who knows what he or she is talking about.

But wade through you will, ELV’s loyal readers, and to those of you who bought the book, we say thanks, and for those still hungry for informed opinion, we at ELV promise to continue pointing your tongues and taste in the right direction.


* Oh, that’s right. You haven’t seen it and probably never will.

15 thoughts on “Verily, It Has Come to Pass….

  1. then make it an app! surely all those downtown start up people can see the potential in an app that merges all the guidebook info. I do believe Mr. Steve Friess suggested this on the first publication.

  2. franco300 is right. People go to Yelp because wherever they are, they have it with them, right on their phone or other device. It’s also 100 current (albeit current with bullshit amateur information). A paper guidebook is like a computer, it’s outdated as soon as you get it home (how many restaurants in one edition closed before the next printing?).

    I love Anthony Curtis, but he is WOEFULLY behind the times. His newsletter should be available on e-readers, his website should be an app. And so should Eating Las Vegas. Imagine the potential if you, Max and Al could continue your interminable pissing contest year round with updates, responses and debates.

    I love the book, but I will confess, I don’t carry it with me when I’m out in Vegas. I might look at it at home, maybe on the flight. I always think I’m going to look at it in my room before I head out, but rarely do. If it was in my pocket, on my phone, I’d be all over it.

    You three have a totally unique approach. If you let it die because you can’t wrap your head around current technology and social media, that’s just a shame…

  3. John, I have to concur with Franco300 & Mark. If there was an EatingLV App on my iPhone, I would refer to it regularly when trying to decide where to go on the weekends and where to take friends when they come into town. As it is, the books are at home on my bookshelf. I look at them when I first get them and maybe once or twice later, and that’s it.


  4. I do love your reviews and value your opinions but sometimes it takes you a while to visit and review a new place. So I check yelp or tripadvisor. Yeah, I have to wade through a lot meaningless reviews that are often based on perceived value instead of food quality, but it’s better than going in completely blind. That being said, I do love a good book. But the Las Vegas dining scene changes so much, books don’t make much sense for Las Vegas tourists like myself who only come for a few nights, a couple times a year and want to make the best most-informed up-to-date decision on where to dine and what dishes to try.

  5. Not to mention it would free you from an obligatory annual update of every page. You could update it on an as-needed basis. Maybe coordinate with Al&Max every once in a while if the top 50 needed a re-juggle or if a veto needed to be hashed out. It could be a stronger product than the print version, and a better moneymaker.

  6. I don’t think print is lost. I (and so do many others) pick up The Las Vegas Weekly and other publications every week. I also visit this blog frequently. I read these materials A) because it’s convenient. Weekly’s are everywhere. And B) Because it’s free.

    So if more readership is what you want then I don’t think the problem is hard to solve. I don’t know about profit but I do believe that with more popularity, inevitably there is going to be some profit.

    Also, please don’t make an app. The lazy majority might love Yelp but as for the handful of us who are hungry for good criticism and writing, we know better than to trust our peers on Yelp. I’m happier to trust ELV’s opinion and the opinion of the food writers in The Weekly (with the exception of Brock Radke*).

    *Sorry Brock Radke :(

  7. The problem, as I see it, is that the apps are not going to go away and print other than the throw away and fine publishing (art, great literature) will be a thing of the past; this is especially true in an industry with the dynamics of dining.
    Also John, with all due respect, is known by every restaurant in Las Vegas and is hardly going to get the experience that the rest of us receive.

    Someone should look up Jack Shelton as he was the pioneer of anonymous fine dining reviews and led me to all the great experiences of dining in San Francisco and yes Fisherman’s Wharf was not on his list just as many of the Las Vegas haunts should be summarily dismissed.

    I believe Robert Finnegan took over Shelton’s thankless project but would have to dig through my books to such evidence.

    I am an rabid reader of this site and enjoy John’s opinions but I believe change needs to be made and especially the recent negative aspect and direction. In a city the size of Las Vegas there must be some gems yet undiscovered or some kitchens that have made interesting and innovative changes for the better.

  8. I wouldn’t be opposed at all to the ELV guide continuing as an app or a website. You could even add a comments section with each restaurant to expose the dopier Yelpers. Given a choice, though, I still prefer the printed page.

  9. I love the ELV-T5ER guides, and have purchased the last two (digital) editions, which can be accessed via my iPhone and -Pad apps. The problem is, they start to become inaccurate before the printing press can even warm up. A (paid) app that can be updated regularly would be a great thing.

  10. I find the Yelp critiques hilarious; all in all the site is just another tool to gather opinions. Sure not all of the opinions are equal, but neither are the opinions of every blog – this one or mine. Dining is about perspective and I have room for both Yelp and EatingLV and my own.

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