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Social media harnessed for WH Smith travel guide boycott

LONDON - Travel writers and publishers are banding together to protest against a decision by WH Smith to only stock guides published by Penguin at their airport stores and train station outlets.

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Lonely Planet is using its blog and social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness of the situation with WH Smith Travel stores at airports and train stations so that travellers will buy their guide books before they travel.

Many consumers are outraged with the decision and the Twittersphere was ablaze with support for a boycott this morning. However WH Smith did not appear to be backing down and was sticking to a statement initially released a couple of days ago explaining the decision.

The campaign against WH Smith is gaining momentum and has the support of the Society of Authors, headed by Margaret Drabble, and Michael Palin, who has written numerous travel books. The Office of Fair Trading is expected to look in to complaints about the deal.

Penguin now effectively has a monopoly on airport travel guide sales, meaning only Rough Guide and Dorling Kindersley's Eyewitness Guides will be available, leaving travellers to wonder where famous brands such as Time Out, Frommers and Lonely Planet have disappeared to.

WH Smith has argued that it is reducing the choice for consumers because they are often pushed for time.

WH Smith said: "After extremely positive customer feedback, we have made changes to our range and display to make selecting a suitable guide easier.

"For example, we used to stock up to 20 guides to Paris and now we will offer eight with many more displayed face-out."

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