"Europe Through the Back Door" by Rick Steves (1994)

John Muir Publications
PO Box 613
Santa Fe, NM 87504

The following are some very distrubing excerpts from yet another travel book harboring an anti-Hellenic racist animus. The entries in this book are notable for their outrageous distortion of Greek and Asia Minor history. Even more egregious is the author's wholly baseless statements concerning the film "Midnight Express", somehow conjuring up a Greek and Armenian conspiracy behind the making of the film.

What makes these statements particularly shocking is that they were not issued from an uneducated oaf of the lunatic fringe, but from a highly respected member of the mainstream media. The book's author, Rick Steves, is host of PBS's television series "Travels in Europe with with Rick Steves" and has written numerous other travel books. Click here to view background and promotional material on Steves and his book "Europe Through the Back Door".

You are urged to protest this outrageously misograecist book by writing, e-mailing or calling the publisher at:

John Muir Publications PO Box 613 Santa Fe, NM 87504 800-888-7504 callie@muir.com

(This book is distributed by Publishers Group West)

Now for a few excerpts:



"Many Americans know Turkey only from the thrilling but unrealistic movie, Midnight Express. The movie was paid for, produced and acted by Armenians and Greeks (historically unfriendly neighbors). While it gives a fine impression of the Greek and Armenian bogeyman image of Turks it says absolutely nothing about about the Turks or Turkey today."

"Turkey is a very old country with civilization stacked upon civilization. The more they dig, the more they learn that Turkey, not Mesopotamia, is the cradle of Western civilization."

"I find Turkey tastier, friendlier, cheaper and richer in culture and history than Greece."

"Turks are quick to remind visitors that, surrounded by Syria, Iraq, Iran, Georgia, Bulgaria and Greece, they're not living in Mr. Roger's neighborhood."

"The best thing about Athens is the boat to Turkey. The best way to get to Turkey from Athens is to sail. Athens, one of Europe's most notorious tourist traps is very crowded. See what's important (Acropolis, Agora, Plaka and National Museum)--and leave!"


Booksellers Play Host to Rick Steves

During the first three months of 1996 Rick Steves was on the road, but he wasn't in the places you would expect him to [INLINE] be--the hamlets of Germany's Bavarian villages, or Tuscany's vineyards. The popular author of Europe Through the Back Door, and 15 other travel titles which mostly cover Europe, was state-side, moving from city to city, promoting Europe Through the Back Door 1996, published in February by John Muir Publications.

His promotional tour began in Seattle in mid-January and took him up and down the West Coast before moving into the southern states and to New York City and other places in the East, including Philadelphia, New Hampshire and Washington, DC. The 29-city tour finally ended in late March, with a trip to Book Passage in Corte Madera, California.

During the three-month publicity tour, Steves spent many hours in front of the TV cameras at stations like WNET in New York City and WFAA in Dallas. He also spent time talking to the travel writers at the big dailies, San Francisco Examiner and USA Today among them. He lectured at professional travel agent meetings, and, of course, made appearances on PBS television stations that carry his "Travels in Europe" series, now in its third season. (As a result of Steves' popularity on the small screen, he is sought after to do a number of the annual pledge drives.)

But his favorite part of a promotional tour is visiting bookstores, especially travel bookstores, he says. "The people who come to bookstores are different than the ones who watch TV," he explains. "People who read books are the most sophisticated customers. The people who attend the travel agents' festivals, or the professional groups, are not really that into travel. They look at me as a novelty--the guy who goes around Europe and doesn't spend much money," he jokes.

Indeed, Steves is the guy who talks about traveling in Europe for $60 a day, and really means it. Avoid the four-star hotels is common advice, he says, explaining that the well-kept pension or inn will be more fun. And Steves will never be one for the limo treatment. His approach is to get out among the native people, experiencing the day-to-day joys of the land, and finding the places that the typical tourists won't.

"I'm a sucker for travel bookstores," insists Steves. "I've never seen a bad one." There's no better place for meeting the most [INLINE] informed book sellers and buyers, he contends. "I'm wowed by the immensity of the public out there," says the conversational Steves. "I have fans that can fill a bookstore three times over. There are people who come in wearing vests with decals all over them, showing the places they've been. There are people who know Europe better than I do," he admits.

Steves had a chance to meet plenty of travel-savvy booksellers and book buyers this winter; his tour brought him to 12 bookstores in the U.S. and Canada. While visiting these bookstores, he spent a lot of time doing what he likes best--talking to travelers. "I don't like book signings as much as I like giving talks," he says. "Talks are better for answering the questions that everyone has. It is more efficient than talking one-on-one," he adds.

On tour, and in his books, efficiency is essential for Steves, who updates his famous guide book every year by personally visiting the places listed. He spends 100 days on the road.

"What energy," are the first words Rochelle Jaffe, owner of Travel Books & Language Center in Bethesda, Maryland, has for Steves. Hers was one of the lucky bookstores to host the author. "It was such a success, but it was a bit of nightmare," she says. The main problem: "We didn't have enough room," she says. Steves, as Jaffe was reminded by the customer interest in her event, is very popular. "We moved the talk and slide show out of the bookstore to the Bethesda Women's Center, which is a half-mile away. There's room there for 200 people. The place was filled in five minutes," she says, recalling her March 10 event. When Steves saw how many people wanted to hear him speak, he immediately agreed to do another show, says a grateful Jaffe. Another 180 bookbuyers waited in line for a second talk given later in the evening.

Helping to draw interest were the staff's promotional efforts, explains Eve Jaffe, Rochelle's daughter, who is the store's events coordinator. "As soon as we set the exact date we made in-store flyers that we put in every bag," she explains. Press releases were sent to seven newspapers in the area, including the Washington Post; ads were placed in three local newspapers; and a huge sign hung in the window. Jaffe was even successful at getting the local Chamber of Commerce to announce Steves' appearance in its newsletter. But the most effective promotion was word of mouth, she says. "When anyone touched a Rick Steves' book they were quickly told about the event," she says. "I would absolutely do this again," insists Eve, who is not intimidated by the logistical adjustments the store had to make. "We would just provide a larger space."

"He had our audience in the palm of his hand," says Fred Hornbruch, owner of Phileas Fogg's Books & Maps for the Traveller in Palo Alto, California. Steves was in the Northern California city March 29 for a two-hour lecture and slide show. Knowing that Steves was playing to standing-room-only crowds, Hornbruch moved the lecture to a vacant store in the shopping mall near his bookstore. At that, Phileas Fogg's Books had to turn 200 people away; the room could only hold 150.

Still, the effort is worth it, says Hornbruch, describing Steves as a natural in front of audiences. This is the man known for saying things like, "Drink the water. But get used to the fact that you'll have diarrhea for one day during your trip. Go home and practice that thought in the mirror." Aside from all the advice on packing light and how to handle jet lag, Steves makes great pains to help Americans put to rest their "ugly American" image. With his back-door approach he talks about finding the warm underbelly of Europe, not just the staged culture. Hornbruch's favorite bit of advice, though, is Steves' spiel on simple security. "All your essential documents should be tied to your body under your clothes in a money belt...on you as thoughtlessly and securely as your underpants."

To promote the popular talk, which Steves gives at Phileas Fogg's every year, Hornbruch sent announcements to the local newspapers. He also made an in-store display of books and videos. In exchange for a customer buying a $2 ticket to the Steves lecture, Phileas Fogg's gave out $2-off coupons for any book in the store. Many customers used these coupons to buy Steves' book after the lecture and slide show. The 200 readers who couldn't get in to the event were consoled with coupons as Steves and Hornbruch walked the line to personally offer apologies.

Book Passage in Corte Madera, California, promoted Steves' lectures on the Internet, says Elaine Petrocelli, president. As a result, the store had orders for books from around the world, she says. In addition, Steves' visit was announced in the store's newsletter, which goes to 50,000 readers.

Petrocelli organized her day with Rick Steves a bit differently from the other stores. At the onset she arranged for three, two-and-one-half hour lectures throughout the day of March 30. Each could accommodate 100 people; ticket price was $10. The in-store lectures were set up to leave a lot of time for questions and answers, adds Petrocelli. This, she says, is a key part of the event.

Books from the store's travel section moved well as a result, she adds. "It was like another December 22," she explains, referring, of course, to the holiday rush that comes before Christmas.

"This is a great experience, especially with an author who is so delightful. There are people who bought their tickets as far back as November. Events like this are easy with an author like him. Would that every author were so easy," she muses.

Steves is one of those authors who has formed a "family" of fans, all centered around his approach to travel. While it is great to meet his readers face-to-face at the bookstore lectures, it is more of a kick to meet them on the road abroad.

"The hardest thing about doing restaurant research is eating a nice meal alone," he laments. "So at about 5:00, wherever I am, I look for someone carrying my book, and then I ask if I can team up with them. It allows me to triple the number of items I can sample," he says. It also helps him get that immediate feedback about his books that market research and focus groups might not come close to. He also keeps in touch with fans by reading the many travel journals and letters he receives. "I actually get high from meeting all these travelers," he says.

Steves travel titles include Europe Through the Back Door 1996, Europe 101: History & Art for the Traveler, Mona Winks: Self-Guided Tours of Europe's Top Museums, Rick Steves' European Phrase Books, and Asia Through the Back Door. His books are published by John Muir Publications, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and distributed by Publishers Group West.

--By Jean Marie Angelo

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