Currently the Company publishes over 350 titles including sheet maps and atlases in full colour. Formats range from large scale street plans of towns and cities to small scale road maps of the whole country. Bindings also vary and include "perfect binding", traditional stitch binding, wire-stitching and spiral binding.
The maps themselves are based upon Ordnance Survey mapping of assorted scales, but invariably it is necessary to incorporate much updating material acquired by our own cartographers from other sources such as Department of Transport, County and Borough Councils.
Production methods vary; computers were introduced into the drawing process in 1991 and now all map production is handled digitally.
Revision programmes had to be maintained by conventional methods whilst computer training and familiarization were undertaken.
In production by computer, existing mapping is scanned and manipulated in raster format. Whilst the benefits of vector working are appreciated it is not practical to re-draw all A-Z mapping in this form and, until time allows, base mapping will be raster with updating carried out in vector.
Printing is entirely contracted out and the services of several printers are utilized covering different types of print, i.e. sheet fed, small format black and white, large format four colour, web-fed black and white and web-fed four colour.
In 1996 the Company produced its first electronic street map of London on CD-ROM. Today, a range of CD's are available covering a selection of cities across the UK. Each one includes a searchable index containing, in the case of London, over 90,000 streets, districts, stations, hospitals, junctions and selected places of interest. The mapping on the CD-ROM can be used on a desktop PC and optionally a Pocket PC.
In 2001 a range of Pocket A-Z maps covering many towns and cities throughout Great Britain designed to run on Pocket PC's was launched.
These maps come complete with searchable indexes including, streets, hospitals, areas and places of interest. Station and postcode indexes are available with selected maps. A simple direction finder and distance indicator is also included allowing the user to navigate between two locations. 2005 saw the addition of GPS tracking added, allowing the user to follow their route while maintaining their position in the centre of the screen and moving the map.
The next generation of A-Z maps for mobile phones were introduced from 2006 and now are also available on the iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad which means you will never be without your trusted A-Z.
With only a few exceptions A-Z maps have a gazetteer. Until the introduction of computers each street name or village name necessitated the make-up of a record card containing details of its physical location on the map together with its County, Postcode, etc. Cards would then need to be manually alphabetized (the origin of A-Z) and subsequently typeset into a page format for inclusion in the book or on the reverse of the sheet map.
Computer techniques have changed this department radically and now all our gazetteers are produced and revised using computers which has enabled us to improve accuracy and to maintain the high standards synonymous with A-Z maps.