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The trouble with travel guides

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During a visit to New York City last summer, Lansing, Mich. native James Westbrook, 35, used a subway map and the lively reviews of local hotspots in a TimeOut travel guide to get him through three virtually unscathed days. (Photo by Erin Schultz)

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A photographer on assignment for the Ultimate Travel Writer's Program, based in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of Lori Allen)

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Lori Allen, editor of the Ultimate Travel Writer's Program for the American Writers and Arts Institute based in Washington, D.C., at work. (Photo courtesy of Lori Allen)

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Seasoned travel writers are challenging the integrity of the guidebook industry, many of which crib from each other, paint the world through rose-colored glasses and offer descriptions that are out of date.