Book Review of the Week: Not For Tourists Guides

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

I'm sure we've all been there - wandering around a lovely city, wondering where to eat, and settling on second-best (or worse) because we just don't know where to go. Well, the geniuses at Not For Tourists have ended that dilemma, at least for a selection of cities: Manhattan, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC, Seattle, and New York City - and city guides to Brooklyn and Queens!

With my very own copy of NFT Seattle in hand, I perused the incredibly detailed information, and found many more places that I absolutely NEED to go to, as well as insider information that only residents (who have lived there a while) would know. Fantastic! Details abound - and are diligently sorted according to neighborhood. It is quite impressive, to say the least. Need to find the closest post office? Police station? School? And, of course, a great restaurant? Never fear - NFT is here!

To share this great information with our wandering educators, I sat down and interviewed Craig Nelson, the Managing Editor of Not For Tourists. Here's what he had to say...

WE: How did NFT get started?

CN: Jane Pirone and Rob Tallia released the very first NFT in May 2000, the Not For Tourists Guide to Manhattan. Jane had been working in film production and was running all over the city trying to find the nearest hardware store, coffee shop, post office, and other important neighborhood places. She realized how useful a book like NFT would be to her work, so she created a guide for New York with business partner Rob Tallia. The first edition won some prestigious design awards and was a hit in local bookstores. Soon after New York came Los Angeles and Chicago, and now NFT is up to nine cities including Atlanta, Boston, Philly, San Francisco, Seattle, and DC.

Who contributes/authors to your NFT books?

CN: NFT is unique because we require that people must live in the city that they are writing about. We want the best local experts that know their neighborhood inside and out. We try to find people that are constantly exploring their cities from fancy restaurants to cheap dive bars to the coolest new boutiques. We also try to get a good geographical representation of each city by choosing writers from all over the city. For example, in New York we want folks that live in the Lower East Side, Harlem, Brooklyn, Greenwich Village, Midtown...all over the city not just the hip neighborhoods.

WE: Your website is fantastic (and funny) - with free downloads and lots of events and news. Do you have a mailing list, so that people can get updates? What else can people find on your site?

CN: We send out a monthly NFT newsletter to update folks on new titles, products, and specials we have on the web shop. We also have city specific newsletters that let people know about NFT release parties (free books and booze!) and other happenings around their city. Besides the free downloads we also have over 65,000 listings online where people can comment and have their say. We publish Features, which are urban musings on a wide range of topics. We have an Ultimate Web Index that links essential websites in each NFT city. We’re also working on some new exciting new features for our website such as Neighborhood and Editor specific pages to get even more good stuff online.

WE: How do people recommend places for your guidebooks?

CN: We get feedback everyday from all over the world. People can just go to our website and click on the feedback button to submit listings that they would like to see in the books. People can suggest a brand new place that has opened up in their neighborhood or some hole-in-the-wall restaurant that we missed. We love hearing from people, and that’s an important way to keep our content fresh and up-to-date. If someone suggests a bunch of great places, we may even list them in the book as a contributor.

WE: Where will you go next?

CN: Across the pond! We are putting the final touches on our newest title as you read this—The NFT Guide to London. After that we’re looking to do more international cities like Paris, Berlin, Hong Kong, and so much more. We actually have a giant map in the office with over 200 cities we’d love to cover at some point. We’ll see how far we get. World domination would be nice, but we’d definitely settle for being as well known as Lonely Planet or Rough Guide. It all depends on finding the right investors, partners, and writers to keep our company growing.


WE: Thanks so much, Craig! I just love my Not For Tourists Seattle, and can't imagine being in a city - whether as a visitor or resident - without your guides to make life run a bit more smoothly. I plan on giving some for gifts - IF I can bear to let go of them, once purchased!

For more information on Not For Tourists, and to get completely addicted to their website and envision making all sorts of travel plans, please see:

Not For Tourists