Frequently Asked Questions

Answers for Climbers
What’s this rakkup app all about? Is it new? Are people using it?
What’s a rakkup digital guidebook? How is it different from a printed book?
Can I check out a sample?
How can I buy these books?
Where can I get the best price on rakkup guides?
Are they the same price as paper guidebooks?
Will I get updates?

Answers for Prospective Guidebook Authors
Can I be a guidebook author? What kind of authors are you looking for?
How do I sign up? What do I need to get started?
How big or small a climbing area can I cover? Do I need to cover all of it?
What is the rakkup guidebook creation process like?
What if I want to create a print book too? Should I do that first?
How often should I update my digital guidebook?
What are my responsibilities after my book is completed?
Will you market my guidebook?
How much will I make?
How do you set pricing?
How often do I get paid?
Is rakkup here to stay? Why should I do business with you?
Will we sign a contract?

Answers for Climbers

What’s this rakkup app all about? Is it new? Are people using it?

Rakkup is an app for iPhone and Android devices that lets climbers purchase and download digital climbing guidebooks that go beyond the printed book, which work even without cell service. We first released rakkup in 2011 and nearly 20,000 climbers have downloaded our app. There are about 50 guidebooks available today in 5 countries, and many additional books in development. We won Climbing magazine’s Editor’s Choice in 2014 and continue to improve and release more titles all the time!

What’s a rakkup digital guidebook? How is it different from a printed book?

Our guidebooks start with the best beta, photos, and topos you’d want in a guidebook. Some are based on existing print books, and some are new and created just for rakkup. All of them, however, include new information and features not possible on the printed page. The guides download very fast, then cache all the photos in a few minutes so that they will work even beyond the reach of cell service (even including the GPS navigation!). Every guidebook contains a complete trail map with turn-by-turn navigation from car to crag. Climbers can search and filter in seconds and see everything in a map view or several convenient lists. And our new “smart topos” use an interactive touch interface to help you find and visualize your climb more clearly and quickly than ever before.

Can I check out a sample?

Absolutely! There’s a free sample for almost every rakkup guidebook so you can try the app at a crag near you without paying anything. We think you will like what you see and once you try our navigation feature or see how convenient a digital guide can be, you’ll want to buy the whole thing.

How can I buy these books?

Once climbers install our app on their phones, they can browse our catalog and buy any guidebook with a tap using “in-app purchase” technology. (Apple and Google have convenient mechanisms for paying using the payment methods a user has already set up as part of their account.) We also sell the same books on our website, in our guidebook store.

Where can I get the best price on rakkup guides?

Pricing is lower on the rakkup.com guidebook store, because Apple and Google charge a hefty fee (30%!) to process each sale and when we don’t have to pay that fee, we pass most of the savings back to the consumer. On our store you can also purchase “bundles,” packages that combine a digital guidebook with a print edition, in many cases. (In app-purchase payments are not permitted for purchase physical goods, so you’ll only find these on our website.)

We currently offer our guidebooks either to Buy or to Rent (with just a couple of exceptions). Our rental periods are 2 months and are priced at 50% of the buy price. Rentals are targeted at visiting climbers who may have never paid full price to buy a guidebook. If a you buy a rakkup guidebook, you own and will get to continue using guidebook forever. (Guidebook purchases will transfer to your future phones or devices easilt as well. Your purchase includes free guidebook updates for one year. After one year, you will be able to purchase or subscribe to additional updates for a modest charge.

Are they the same price as paper guidebooks?

In most cases, our digital guidebooks are less expensive than the equivalent paper guidebooks. What’s more, nearly all our guidebooks offer a less expensive option to rent a guidebook if you’re just making a quick one-time visit to a climbing area. Our usual rental option is a 2-month period for about half the price of a purchase.

Will I get updates?

Our app allows you to download incremental updates to your guidebooks with a single tap in just a few seconds. The ability to update your public guidebook at anytime with the press of a button is probably one of the most loved features among our authors.
All purchases include one year of updates for free, and updates are available after that at a very modest price — far less than buying a new copy of your guide. In fact, for many of our authors, the ability to make additions and corrections almost instantly is one of their favorite features of rakkup!

Naturally, some climbing areas are undergoing much more active development of new routes than others, and the frequency with which the books are updated varies quite a bit from place to place.

Answers for Prospective Guidebook Authors

Can I be a guidebook author? What kind of authors are you looking for?

Yes, we are always looking for more authors, and constantly partnering with new authors to create more digital guidebooks!

Our goal is to partner with guidebook authors who are “local experts”: they have a lasting relationship with and detailed knowledge of their local climbing area, so that our customers know they can trust the beta they get in a rakkup guidebook and expect a level of detail and accuracy that goes beyond what’s freely available from other Internet sources. As an author you need to be committed to keeping your guidebook content as up-to-date as possible. We would expect that as a “local expert” you will at least have climbed most of the climbs in your target area, and most likely bolted some routes or done FAs in the area as well.

You do not need to have any special knowledge of smartphones, apps, or computer technology. As an author, your job is to be an expert about the climbs in an area and a strong communicator in words and pictures.

We also value authors who are committed to maintaining their guidebook as the most accurate and authoritative source of climbing beta for an area over the long term. This requires an ongoing commitment to keeping your content up-to-date and finding ways to add to it or improve it after your initial release, and to having a presence and a positive impact  in the local climbing community.

Additionally, you will be most successful if you are prepared to be a local advocate for your guidebook. While we will help promote your book, your connection to the crag and the community that uses it is important and one of the biggest factors in your business success will be how effectively you help spread the word about your project, as explained more below.

How do I sign up? What do I need to get started?

Contact us at support@rakkup.com if it sounds like this is for you and you want to know more! We still like to spend time with every prospective author answering questions and understanding your goals, and after an initial email will probably set up an audio call to get you up and running. You probably already have all the tools and software you need:

  • Any PC or Mac running the Google Chrome Internet browser will work for creating your guidebook.
  • You will also want an iPhone or Android phone that you can use to test your guidebook as you build it.
  • Our powerful website for authors is the only software you need to organize text and pictures, draw climbing topos on top of photographs, and even build a navigation trail map.
  • In addition to your computer, you’ll likely want a good digital camera (a DSLR is best, but a good point-and-shoot can work), and
  • a handheld GPS device (though your iPhone or Android phone will work adequately).

How big or small a climbing area can I cover? Do I need to cover all of it?

We have guidebooks ranging from just over 30 climbs (in a hard-to-find location in Morocco) to well over 3,000 (in Joshua Tree, California). Part of the beauty of digital guides is how well they scale, and no area is too small if climbers are actually climbing there. In fact, even in larger areas we have learned that it’s best to keep your first public release small and manageable, and improve it over time. Scope your first public release with the 80/20 rule in mind (i.e. 80% of the climbing happens on 20% of the routes), then plan on doing frequent small updates. You can easily raise the price over time if your guidebook has grown enough to justify doing so.
With this approach, you will get to market sooner and begin to make your name and product visible, and begin to get user feedback that makes your guide better. The process is more manageable this way, customers love getting guidebook updates, and updates give you and us an opportunity to market your guidebook on social media.

What is the rakkup guidebook creation process like?

You will use our web-based authoring tools to create your guidebook. Our authoring tools are not just for creating a rakkup guidebook, they’re also the best way to organize your information for print as well. (link to below)

One key feature of the rakkup process is that it is incremental. You can build a guidebook with just a few climbs and see it and test it on your phone, then add and improve it bit by bit. The update process is very quick and simple because we have found that inspecting your final product as you go produces the best quality results.

There are four chief tasks to creating a rakkup guidebook:

  1. Create your organizational scheme. You’ll create sections and subsections, which might correspond to geographical zones or areas sharing a common trailhead, and then divide into individual climbing walls or boulders/boulder groups. For each area or sector you can use our web form to add descriptions, approach and descent beta, notes on weather and aspect, and so on.
  2. Create and describe the routes or problems. You enter into our web forms textual information like climb/problem names, grades and descriptions, and optionally choose from dozens of optional additions such as a recommended rack, FA, history, retreat, risk, fixed gear, and so on.
    If you’re starting from an Adobe InDesign file, we have tools that can completely automate this part. We don’t believe in having to do data entry more than once.
  3. Add images. You upload high resolution images, assign them to climbs, and then use our web based smart topo drawing tools. Our system will automatically resize and compress the images if necessary for optimal presentation and speed on mobile devices.
    If you’re starting from images with topo lines drawn in Adobe Illustrator (or any other program that supports the widely-used .svg file format standard), we have tools that can import the topo lines you’ve already created in Illustrator.
  4. Build a trail map. Every rakkup guidebook has car to crag navigation to every climb, powered by the rakkup trail map. You will create the trail map using our web-based Map Builder The map is comprised of tracks corresponding to hikeable trail, and waypoints corresponding to parking spots or trailheads and climbing destinations such as walls or boulders.In many cases, you can create these tracks and waypoints sitting at your computer, simply by looking at the aerial imagery we display (taken from Google and/or Bing map tools) and drawing on top of it.Where the aerial imagery is not clear enough or you may not be familiar enough with the trails, you can also take a hand-held GPS device (or even a smartphone running an app such as MotionX) and hiking the trails, recording your position as you go.Finally, you’ll use the Map Builder to connect your trails and designate any special features (such as dirt road, fourth-class scrambling, or a one-way section of trail or road), then test and adjust to make sure rakkup is finding the preferred route between different destinations on your map.

What if I want to create a print book too? Should I do that first?

Actually, no! Many of our guides started as print books, and many of our digital guides have become or are en route to becoming print books. Building your digital guide first gives your print guidebook a tremendous head start because:

  1. You can begin selling it much sooner, by filling out just the most popular sections of your climbing area first and releasing a digital guidebook with a narrower scope, without a big up-front investment in printing. This lets you build awareness and reputation, start attracting a social media following, and even collecting the email addresses of your customers, which will help market your print guidebook later.
  2. You can use your own guidebook in the field, share it with friends and testers, and get real customer feedback to make changes and improvements to the contents based on real-world usage. This helps you get the details right before you send your manuscript to the printer.
  3. It’s easier and saves tons of work to use rakkup first! Our powerful system lets you “snapshot” all the content of your digital guidebook in an industry-standard file format that you can import into Adobe InDesign in seconds, with appropriate text styles applied to all the elements of your guidebook. You can also export all your images, at full resolution and with all the overlaid topo drawings you created in rakkup, and open them with Adobe Illustrator to make further design changes and/or import them right into InDesign. All you have to do is organize your layout, and no duplicate creation of your content is needed.
    You can see a 90-second demo of this amazing tool here.
  4. Our strong relationships and contacts in the climbing guidebook community can help you with the printing and distribution process. We have partners who can help lay out your design, broker the best printing deal, store your inventory and ship it for you, sell it on the Internet, or place it in retail outlets if you want assistance with any of those steps.
  5. You can keep updating your digital guidebook as often as you like, before and after your print edition, and when the time comes to re-print, you’ll have all your most recent changes available.

How often should I update my digital guidebook?

We recommend doing small frequent updates, especially leading up to or during the climbing season for your area. Small updates are more manageable and customers love to see an engaged author improving their guidebook with the latest beta. They also create a marketing opportunity to remind the community about your product.
You will have a private “preview” of your guidebook you can view in the rakkup app on your Android of iOS device that you can update yourself at anytime with a press of a button, as you create content. This enables you (and any testers or co-authors you grant access to your preview) the ability to see your content exactly as it will look to your customers and to test the functionality and appearance of your content.

When you notify us the content is ready for the public, we’ll briefly test your update and then publish your update to the public, and announce it on our social media.

What are my responsibilities after my book is completed?

Your most important responsibility is to keep your guide up to date to the greatest extent possible. This takes very little time using our web-based tools, but requires you to keep an ear to the ground and be present in the climbing area!

Additionally, you will want to augment rakkup’s marketing efforts with your own local efforts. Some examples that have proven effective include:

  • creating, moderating, or participating in online communities of local climbers (e.g. on facebook or a variety of local climbing websites such as cascadeclimbers.org here in the Pacific Northwest),
  • forging partnerships with local climbing gyms, guiding services, retailers, and other businesses,
  • participating in local events like crag clean-ups and trail-building days, and
  • creating local signage or handing out stickers.

Will you market my guidebook?

Yes. We will support the marketing of your rakkup title by promoting your release and updates in social media. This may include paying to boost posts related to your content to climbers in your area. We can also pay for print advertising like posters, stickers and banners to use in your local area, like climbing gyms. We also constantly focus on optimizing your rakkup product page for search engine optimization.

How much will I make?

Both the price and the quantity of sales vary greatly across guidebooks, and effective marketing also has a big influence, so it is impossible to predict how much money this could be with any accuracy.
Regardless of your volume or price, we split digital rakkup guidebook sales revenue with you. We will pay you 50% of digital rakkup guidebook sales, net of transaction fees (for example, PayPal, Google, or Apple fees charged for taking payment from customers), paid quarterly. We can also help promote and sell ‘bundles’ that combine your print guidebook and your rakkup guidebook; in this case we share a pro-rated “digital portion” of the sale and you fulfill and profit from the print book sale.

How do you set pricing?

Pricing is a mutual decision between you and us. We like to ensure some consistency in pricing across the guidebooks we sell, and suggest how we think your guidebook should be priced considering its breadth and depth as well as the competitive marketplace for your destination. You will have the final say, though. It’s a mutual decision and we’ve never had an issue reaching a consensus with an author on guidebook pricing. Pricing can be changed at anytime.

If you continue to update your guidebook frequently, we can discuss an appropriate price that customers will pay to subscribe to those updates (after their first year, when updates are included free), and you can earn additional update revenue through these sales.

How often do I get paid?

We will pay you quarterly in the month after the calendar quarters end. That means we do author payouts in January, April, July, & October.

Is rakkup here to stay? Why should I do business with you?

We are climbers and members of the community first and business people second, and we value our reputation above all else. We are experienced software professionals who love climbing, and we are passionate about building the best guidebook platform, period. This has been our mission and our full-time business since 2011, and we are investing heavily in our future. We’ve made pleasing our authors and partners our top priority because we think that is the key to our long term success. You may well already know someone who’s created a rakkup guidebook, but we are always happy to provide references.

Will we sign a contract?

Yes, we will sign a contract before we publicly release your content. Our contract protects both you and us and defines the legal aspects of our business relationship. We’re fine working on the development of your guidebook without a signed contract up to the point of public release. Before we publicly release your content we will have negotiated and signed a mutually agreeable contract. We have a contract template that we will share with you if you decide you’d like to proceed with creating a rakkup guidebook.