The first posting on paper maps (Maps, Paper) helped pique my interest in researching, at least a little, the paper map publishing industry. As a map aficionado myself, I started by taking note of the publishers represented in my personal map inventory. There are at least two dozen of them, which I’ve listed in the following spreadsheet with comments, most gleaned from their websites.
I continued my research by searching for one or more complete as possible listings of English speaking paper map publishers. The best source for that that I could find was the International Map Industry Association (IMIA), with a membership list of approximately 370, mostly publishers. (The association publishes some details on members but, unfortunately, the format is quite unwieldy, so I haven’t done anything with it yet).
The IMIA website helpfully has descriptions and links to 15 affiliated organizations.
If you need a map, large Internet retailers include Maps.com, Omnimap.com, and TrekTools.com.
When I began to think about writing this column, an op-ed piece in the New York Times appeared propitiously and I learned of an excellent blog on maps, http://bigthink.com/blogs/strange-maps, which I heartily recommend for any map enthusiast. There may be others.
Finally, I want to give some visibility to several of my favorite boutique publishers – to recognize them as examples of what is possible and also to introduce them to others who, perhaps, will send them some business so they can keep doing what they do so well! Small, specialized publishers who have carved out a niche include:
Franko’s – appealing, highly informative maps. Mostly recreational sites in California, Nevada, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. Many are intended for divers or surfers.
Map Adventures – small selection of excellent maps of trails in New England and the Bay Area
MapEasy – especially the Guidemaps, not to scale but informative city and country maps with interesting sites noted & described.
Pease Press – small selection of undermapped Bay Area parks
Professor Pathfinder – detailed maps of college campuses & adjacent towns including Princeton & Stanford
Tom Harrison Maps – very well done maps, mainly of California parks and hiking areas, which include distances, topo information, etc.
While I’m not a paper map industry insider and privy to all its challenges, it’s clear the industry is still alive, notwithstanding the Internet. It’s also apparent that the industry follows a pattern: entrepreneurs with a passion, talent, and hard work can start and build a decent business by following their star, just as those behind the above publishers are doing.