What gripes me about guide books now - is they show you lots of places in photos (which by definition makes the books more expensive). In part, the large glossy photos kill the surprise of your seeing it yourself for the first time. Not entirely, of course, but it takes an edge off. On the other hand, knowing from childhood what the colosseum looks like didn't break the surprise for me when we walked up the stairs of the metro station and saw it in front of us. And of course, some of us who don't travel now crave photos.
We have had two a2kers who wrote travel guides. One was Clary - I'd have to look up her book or books. She had good threads, wonderful woman. Then there was PaolaL, whom I met on my trip to New York City in 2003. She died not too long after, and knew she was dying when I met her. She was part of an interesting italian family, living in New York and Rome, and I still shy away from explaining more about that since she didn't announce on the boards here herself. I'll pm you if you are interested. There was a guy who wrote archeology thrillers, Aaron Elkins. He only showed up here once, just to ask a question, but it was neat to see him.