Matt Libby, whose family has operated a sporting camp in northern Maine for 126 years, keeps about a dozen copies of DeLorme’s Maine Atlas and Gazetteer on hand for his guests to use. One was published in 1978.
Bob Meyers of Bath, executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association, logs about 35,000 miles a year on state roads and he always keeps a Gazetteer in the car. Meyers, who admits he’s a bit of a map addict, has 12 of the atlases divided between his home, office and car.
Libby and Meyers were among hundreds, if not thousands, of Mainers who probably breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday when the company’s new owner announced it would continue printing and selling “the venerated DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer product line.”
Garmin is the Swiss company that bought Yarmouth-based DeLorme in February. The company said in a news release that it will “enhance” the map books, but offered no specifics other than saying the atlases will be revised and updated and the company will make additional investments in “resources and cartography staff based in the Yarmouth facility.”
Garmin publishes the map books for all 50 states.
“Because the DeLorme name is so well-known and closely associated with the unique feature set and style of the Atlas & Gazetteers, which combines digital cartography with human editing, the product line will continue under the same iconic brand and familiar appearance,” Garmin said in its press release. “DeLorme paper atlases continue to be in strong demand, even as digital alternatives continue to proliferate.”
A TRAVELING TRADITION
The Atlas & Gazetteer was the first product DeLorme offered when it was founded in 1976. The atlases were known for their precision and inclusion of little-known roads and sites in rural areas of New England. Garmin is known for its wireless devices and technology in mapping and global positioning systems.
Generations of Mainers kept a copy of the Maine edition in their cars to help them navigate back roads and find campgrounds, beaches, recreation areas, nature preserves, lighthouses and even the species of fish stocked in Maine lakes and ponds. The atlases came out long before the development of the internet and GPS devices.
When Garmin acquired DeLorme earlier this year, the company closed its map store on Route 1 in Yarmouth and told customers it would focus more on developing its line of digital map devices. At the time, company officials said the future of the Gazetteer was uncertain, leaving loyal customers in unknown territory.
“The first thing we said was, ‘OK we don’t care what else they do, just don’t stop making the Gazetteer,’ ” said Libby, who owns and operates Libby Camps on Millinocket Lake, near Baxter State Park.
Libby said he uses the Gazetteer “almost every day. It’s just about the greatest map out there.” If guests want to go fishing or snowmobiling on their own, he loans them a Gazetteer.
“I went into an absolute panic. I was desperate,” Meyers said after Garmin announced it was closing the Yarmouth map store in February. Myers said he went shopping right after the announcement, but had some trouble finding an atlas. “They sold out almost immediately.”
‘IT’S IN MY TRUCK ALL THE TIME’
Meyers has a GPS unit mounted to his snowmobile, but he prefers the atlas because he can touch it and if necessary, write notes in it.
“This (Tuesday’s announcement) is the happiest news of the month,” Meyers said.
Master Maine Guide Don Kleiner said he uses the atlas on the job. Kleiner owns and operates Maine Outdoors, a guide service in Union.
He buys a new atlas every year and gives the old one to his wife.
“It’s a tool that I don’t leave home without,” Kleiner said. “It’s in my truck all the time.”
David Trahan of Waldoboro, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, has hunted and fished all his life. He said he relies on the atlas whenever he travels into areas he is unfamiliar with.
Trahan, who keeps three copies of the atlas on hand, prefers maps to electronic devices. “I like to read a map, just like I would read a good book,” he said.
The announcement that the retail store would close also caused anxiety among hunters and fishermen, Trahan said.
“For a lot of people, when Garmin announced they were closing the store, most people thought that’s it. The maps are going the way of the dinosaur,” he said.
The company said the atlases will continue to be sold at retailers that have carried them in the past. However, at the end of the year, online sales will move from delorme.com to garmin.com.