End of the Line for Paper Maps at CSAA

The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that CSAA (California’s branch of the AAA) is going to stop producing their own paper maps later this year:

The California State Automobile Association produced its first road map in 1909. It showed major highways in California and Nevada, and was sent free to all members. Ninety-nine years later, San Francisco’s CSAA is set to produce its last paper map, another victim of the shift to digital technology.

The auto club, which serves Northern California, Nevada and Utah, is phasing out its 12-person cartographic unit by year-end, the association said. Members will still be able to get paper maps at no charge, but they will be produced at AAA national headquarters in Heathrow, Fla.

This doesn’t mean an end to paper maps at AAA, but there won’t be any more that are regionally-produced. I’m guessing that this will be the end of locally specialized maps which would be a shame.

Clearly online mapping services (Yahoo!, Google, MapQuest) along with in-car GPS units have become very popular for point-to-point directions. I still like the visceral feel of paper maps, especially when you’re looking for new places to explore.

I wonder how sales of the venerable Thomas Guide have faired lately. These used to be the must-have reference for those who spent any time on the road.

(Via The Map Room — a great blog if you’re at all into maps)