Despite recurring reports of the death of the print guidebook, spring 2009 has seen plenty of activity among publishers of guides to the Balkan Region. Some of the books listed below are already in the shops, others are due to be published in the next few months and are available for pre-order. I haven't yet got my hands on any of them, so the following listings are not necessarily recommendations.
Travellers to Montenegro will soon be spoilt for choice as the Adriatic country moves further towards mainstream destination status. Two brand new guidebooks make their debuts in April 2009, Rough Guides and Lonely Planet shadowing each other as closely as ever: their guides have identical official publication dates. In keeping with the usual pattern, the Rough Guide has more pages than its LP competitor. Rough Guide author Norm Longley has also been responsible for the excellent Romania and Slovenia guides. There are now at least five English language guidebooks dedicated entirely to this small country (for the full list see the Montenegro Books page).
Albania trails some distance behind Montenegro when it comes to being perceived as a "normal" tourist destination, but it is certainly moving in that direction. Until recently the successive and ever-improving editions of the Bradt guide had the field to themselves (in the absence of an update to the 2001 Blue Guide, still worth referring to for its incomparable level of detail). Now Thomas Cook is publishing "Travellers Albania". The same publisher's CitySpots series already covers Tirana, and the new guide extends to the whole country. See the Albania Books page for the full list of guidebooks.
The new guides to Albania and Montenegro will be of interest to travellers concentrating on a single country, but are probably too bulky for the many people who visit these countries as part of a longer trip. Those travellers will no doubt be interested in the second edition of Lonely Planet's Western Balkans guide, which will hopefully take account of the many changes in the region since the first edition appeared three years ago. Details are still sparse - all I know right now is that it is just 12 pages longer than the first edition. Presumably the same countries are covered - I wonder if Kosovo, barely touched on in the original edition, will get its own section?
Please see this later post for an update on the Western Balkans guide.
The roster is completed by two other updates from Lonely Planet: their guide to Croatia has moved on to its fifth edition in a relatively short space of time, while the venerable Turkey guide is on edition number eleven.