Ideo Field Guides: A Stand-out Among Travel Books


I get sent a lot of stuff because people want us to write about them on the website. As these gifts pile up, I notice clearly the ones that I care about and those that I don’t.

I must say that today’s Fedx parcel exceeded my expectations, and both surprised and delighted me. It was from IDEO, a unit of Chronicle Books, and they’re called ‘Eyes Open Field Guides.’

Here is what’s cool about these books, (they have a guide like this to New York and one to London): The shape of the book, laid out horizontally with a hardcover, is easy to flip through, so you don’t have to hold the page open. They have a little elastic you can wrap around so you can mark your place. The text is minimal with very arty and cool photographs with each entry.

They aren’t trying to be your Uncle’s guide to New York, with info on all of the sites. They instead pick out places and things most of us have never heard of, like Metronaps, where you can take a snooze in a pod in suite 2210 of the Empire State Building. And Bamn! in the East Village, a 2008 version of the old Horn and Hardart Automats with lots of great food to buy using sleek vending machines.

The book categorizes travelers into logical groups, as they say, ‘each one of us is an Observer, a Diner, a Shopper and a Mingler.

Other tips from the shopping section include Calypso Home in Soho, the Chelsea Flea Market,Sahadi Importing in Brooklyn (for fresh cardamom or saffron) and lists parks like Bryant Park (the only public free Wi-Fi I could find last trip), and Grand Opening, where people can play ping-pong in the lower East Side.

A marvelous little tome that I will put to use the next time I visit the city!