The Travel Guide to Ulaan Baatar & The Mongolian Countryside had an initial print run of 10,000 copies and was distributed through travel agents, restaurants, bars and hotels in Mongolia on a sale or return basis, as well as through the State Department Store and smaller bookshops in Ulaan Baatar. Within three months a further 5,000 copies were printed to keep up with demand.
Chris Devonshire-Ellis recalls “At the time there was only the Lonely Planet Guide to Mongolia, which although detailed, didn’t do the countries incredible photogenic capabilities real justice. I decided to include as many colour photos as I could. Foreign travellers, often not speaking Mongolian, would be able to point at photos in the book and show where they wanted to go.”
The Guide contains useful travel sections, including suggestions for a variety of trips out of Ulaan Baatar and uniquely, also spends time dealing with city itself. It also contains full colour photos and identification tips for all of Mongolia’s larger animals, as well as a section on birds and flowers.
The book was hugely influential, leading directly to a plethora of Travel Guides to Mongolia springing up over the next few years. Collecting income from the book though proved to be a problem “Ulaan Baatars street urchins would often steal copies from shops and then sell them cheap to tourists arriving at the train station. Other outlets just never paid. But the book was never written as a money making venture. What money I was able to collect I gave to a Charity of the British Ambassadors choice – eventually going to a Summer Ger Camp for Mongolia’s disadvantaged children.”
Two years after publication, with 15,000 copies having been distributed, and newer more updated Guides being produced by other writers, the Travel Guide to the Mongolian Countryside was archived and put online as a complimentary download. “It is now out of date” says Chris “Although parts of it, including the animals, birds and plants sections, as well as suggestions on one day to week long excursions are still very much valid”. It has since received another 12,000 additional downloads.