I have been meaning to write one about this for ages. So thanks, if you could do the one I have been meaning to write on podcasts as well then even better :)!
For me I still use hard copy guidebooks, I like reading them on my commute and they are a nice way of doing a bit of imaginary travelling. Though I will admit, I now probably get more of my travel itinerary via online resources.
Here is my personal rundown of the ones I have used.
Looking through by travel bookshelf it is fairly obvious to see that Lonely Planet
is my default guide. They feel mostly intuitive to use and pretty comprehensive. I really like their Encounters City guides even if their post 2011 versions haven't been an improvement.
Though there is quite a bit of diversity in their range, and since their overhaul in 2011 I think their maps aren't very good, and actually quite difficult to use in the field.Rough Guides
have probably become my favourite now, they have always been a little better on some aspects (background and history) and now their maps are superior to any other available guidebook. Their map of Fez Medina alone deserves an award for making the maze readable. Again though there is quite a range, their Thailand one I used in 2010 was useless.Footprint
found them to be interesting reads on Latin America. Was pretty good when I finally got to test drive it in Brazil last month.Bradt
best for off the beaten track locations (the only one that had a Belarus specific guide when we went there). Can be exceptionally informative without straying too far into dusty academic prose. Maps are very basic.Cadogan
like a slightly dotty version of Bradt. I actually rather like them and the maps are better.Michelin
I like the three star rating system, but beyond that I find them rather awkward and dry to use. Arranging things in alphabetical order doesn't work for me.DK
not really any practical use when travelling, and aimed at a slightly different style of traveller than the users of this forum. Can be a handy for a swift intro to somewhere completely new, but mostly lack detail.Blue Guides
the complete other end of the scale from DK, can be very enlightening, very high brow and more than a little dull. If you want to know full details about every case in an internationally renowned gallery these are the ones to aim for, though sometimes it is tough to see the wood for the trees. If you just want an overview best to head elsewhere.Time Out
have limited coverage of a few big cities, but can be really good, especially on non-sight seeing activities. They don't get updated that regularly though, and a lot of their listings are prone to becoming out of date quickly.Moon
my first attempt to use it wasn't great, their South Korean guide I found to be unintuitive and just not really what I needed, I ended up stuffing it in the bottom of my pack after a couple of days and never going back to it. However, we used them for Mexico City and San Miguel, Querataro & Guanajuato and they were pretty good.Let's Go
I was given a copy of their Europe guidebook whilst in a hostel. It was dreadful and I ended up 'donating' it to another hostel's bookshelf a few days later.Rick Steve's
I find them kind of quaint, the maps are dreadful, but it is sort of interesting to see what things American tourists need to know about places. Reading through the cultural tips in his London guide is rather enjoyable.
And of the non standard ones:Use It
aimed squarely at younger and student travellers, so I think I have moved out of their audience, I found them to be brilliant, the focus is on food, drink and activities but they are made by local students so it gives a great local insight. The highlights of Warsaw came from these guides. They even have an Olomouc one now, bound to win me over.In your pocket
again really useful as they are written by locals, exceptionally good for cities in Central and Eastern Europe that aren't covered by the traditional publishers (there isn't a Rough Guide to Minsk, or Lonely Planet Gdansk) They do have adverts in them, but then they are free, so it is a decent compromise if you ask me.