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@Work: St. John Guidebook

Dec. 2, 2004 – As they have every year around this time since 1987, Arne and Barbara Jacobsen of St. John's Great Dane Inc. launched the St. John Guidebook and the St. John Map this week.
The Jakobsens took over publication of the St. John Guidebook from legendary St. John cartoonist Linda Smith-Palmer. Smith-Palmer no longer lives full-time on St. John, but her cartoons of the infamous Max the Mongoose still populate the St. John Guidebook pages.
The guidebook is a departure from what's normally found on the giveaway racks at hotels, stores, restaurants, and tourist offices.
It presents facts and figures about St. John in a humorous light.
"St. John is the same size as Manhattan. Both islands have taxi gridlocks…but the view is better when you're stuck in ours," writes Smith-Palmer on page 15.
At one point in the years since they began producing the St. John Guidebook and Map, the Jakobsens also published similar guidebooks and maps for St. Croix and St. Thomas.
They stopped publishing the St. Thomas set a few years ago.
"It's not the right venue for our publications, and there are too many guidebooks," Barbara Jakobsen said.
Last year, they sold the St. Croix Guidebook and Map to Julia Renfro, but Arne Jakobsen continues to do the layout and Smith-Palmer the drawings.
Barbara Jakobsen said their lives are more manageable with only the St. John Guidebook and Map on their hands.
Right now, Barbara Jakobsen is getting distribution rolling. She contracts with people in St. Thomas and St. John to keep the guidebook and map on the racks, and she's organizing shipment to stateside and overseas V.I. Tourism Department offices.
Arne Jakobsen will start selling advertising for the 2006 issue around February.
The Jakobsens do it all by contracting with a small group of people. Elaine Penn keeps the office under control, they buy photos from Steve Simonsen, Lee Stanciauskas organizes the art work, and Reggie Walters helps Arne Jakobsen sell ads during the spring and early summer.
The Jakobsens moved to St. John in 1986 from Houston, Texas. Barbara Jakobsen commuted to St. Thomas to work as director at the Council on Alcoholism St. Thomas, known as COAST. Arne Jakobsen worked for Tropical Hardwoods until the opportunity to buy the St. John Guidebook and Map came along.
Like any small business on St. John, they face challenges. Barbara Jakobsen said that it's a lot of work to keep the business afloat.
However, the Jakobsens have no plans to give it up anytime soon.
"I can't imagine stopping," Barbara Jakobsen said.

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