Lonely Planet, publisher of the popular travel guides, launched interactive e-books for the iPad on Monday for popular European destinations.

E-books for Italy, Spain, France, Great Britain and Ireland, each containing more than 3,000 hyperlinks and imbedded points of interest, will be sold at Apple's iBook stores.

The e-book in the iBook store was a new frontier for us which really creates a level of inner activity for a guide that has not previously existed, said John Boris, Lonely Planet's executive vice president, We believe it is the most enhanced e-book out there for travel.

The initial five electronic books will be followed by interactive guides for Japan, Thailand and Australia.

We focused on the countries that Americas travel to most during the summertime. Europe is the top travel destination for Americans during this time of year, Boris explained.

Electronic reading devices are changing the face of the publishing industry and gaining popularity with consumers. Forrester Research, an independent technology and market research company, estimated last year that 10 million e-readers will be sold in the United States by the end of 2010.

Inspired by the company's Discover series of travel books which feature tailored itineraries, maps and travel tips, Boris said the e-books will allow readers to pre-plan their trip, bookmark pages, take notes, search imbedded points of interest and find exact content.

It is for anybody looking to get to the heart of a place and find the must-see places within that location, he explained, adding that the e-books, although specifically designed for the iPad, can also be accessed on iPhone with 4.0 software.

He believes the e-books, which will sell for $14.99, will reach a new group of people who might not have otherwise purchased a trip guide.

This is absolutely here to stay in terms of e-books, in terms of people's use of e-books, he said, adding that including audio and video capabilities will take e-books to the next level.

This is the never ending quest to make the guide as perfect as possible and technology is a great enabler of that Boris added.