This post is the first in a series of reviews of all of the available Moselsteig books, maps, and such that I was able to find. There's no particular order to all of this, except that the books are lined up in my bookshelf from smallest to largest, so here we go!
Verlag Esterbauer is a publishing house that appears to specialize in bicycle touring guides (well, every single one of their English language guides is a bike book, at least). This book (only available in German) is a nicely printed, very compact guide that is... well, it's a bit of an odd one, really.
The included maps are nicely done and clearly show the different kinds of paths that make up the Moselsteig, ranging from suburban paved streets to actual hiking trails; even the trails are displayed in a range of trail-ness from wide, meadow trails to so-called Klettersteige, which are basically scrambles with ladders and cables to help you through them. (Fun!) None of the other books or maps I've seen provide this information, which is potentially useful (not to me, particularly, but if this is something you need to know, then this is the book for you).
All of the most useful information is here: elevation gain and loss, approximate time, and a simple elevation profile of the trail is included as well. However, the trail descriptions given are pretty much the worst of all of the books I've read. Here's an example:
Turn left and head downhill towards Bruttig-Fankel ~ at the end of village turn right twice and head uphill on the other side of the K36 ~ turn left onto a gravel path and go through some more vineyards ~ make a hard left and head downhill at the next fork in the path ~ follow Mühlenbackstraße into town
There are pages and pages of this, and I honestly have no idea why. The trail is well signed, you probably have a map, GPS, or mobile phone, so why would you try to follow a hundred pages of instructions like this? I can't imagine trusting "turn left at the fork" over the sign or my cell phone. Sigh.
That being said, this guide does occasionally drop in interesting things to see along the way with brief descriptions, which is fine. If you're walking for a few hours, it's usually great if you can make a pit stop to see a Roman villa or an especially interesting chapel, and it's even better if you have a clue about why it's an interesting place to stop.
Town descriptions are moderately interesting, but lists of local sights with nothing more than telephone numbers (!) leave me scratching my head. I'd definitely be down with visiting a historic mustard factory, but if I don't know when it's open, forget it - and I'm not going to call them. I'm going to visit their website, which oops this book doesn't have any. Too bad.
At the end of the book there's a lengthy list of places to sleep along the way, but this isn't particularly helpful - it's just a list with nothing more than the name, the address, the phone number, a rough guide to cost, and an icon if they're approved by Wanderbares Deutschland, an umbrella organization that represents the interested of German hiking clubs. However, the list doesn't tell you if they're near the trail or not, what their websites are, or if it's even a particularly nice place to stay.
To sum up, this guide the only way to go if you need to know what exactly you'll be walking on (asphalt? dirt? something else?) or if you need turn-by-turn descriptions (turn left and head uphill at the fork on the other side of the freeway). It isn't going to help you decide where to stay (unless you absolutely have to stay at Wanderbares Deutschland-approved properties, but of course that information is available for free online anyway). The maps are generally good (even if they don't have interesting options shown on them such as the Calmont Klettersteig), but there are better options.
Finally, the purchase price of the guide includes online access to GPS tracks as well as regular updates - but there are better GPS tracks available for free and the online updates aren't super helpful - they're just a list of changes to the hotel list at the back of the book.
Am I going to take this book along with me when I walk the trail? Heck no, but looking at it again, I think there's a case to be made for at least reading it carefully for tips on interesting places to stop along the way.