are they worth their weight? I know lists of albergues/refugios are avaiable online. are there some that i should consider buying? Which ones? also, are there any book recommendations for me before i go?
no. The weight comes from the glossy paper for photos; when you're on the road, glossy photos are no use whatever. Read the glossy guides before you go for background info; make notes to take with you. For en route, I would recommend the Confraternity of St James guides, which aren't on glossy paper so don't weigh much, and give past pilgrims' feedback on accommodation etc (such as which places are good and which are better avoided).
I have just discovered that if you go to the Spanish Tourist Board site http://www.tourspain.co.uk/ (I expect there's something similar for other countries), click on 'On-Line Brochure Orders' and pick 'The Road to Santiago', amazingly they send you a copy of the 2004 Everest guide by Anguita Jaen for free! It has a different cover from the version available in bookshops http://www.everest.es/catalogo/detalle. ... 1847&pos=8
so is presumably a special printing, but as far as I can see is the full unexpurgated 360pp guide complete with stripmaps in a separate pouch you can hang round your neck.
Besides full guide to the 'French Road' and the 'Aragon Route', there are also overview descriptions of extensions to Padron, Fisterra and Muxia plus Via de la Plata, Portuguese Roads, English Road and Northern Roads (Costa via Mondonedo, and Primitivo).
Still recovering from the shock of receiving this in my letterbox instead of the small brochure I was expecting!
I would agree that the Confraternity guide is a good way to go. It's very light and it is updated each year with input from pilgrims who walked the previous year. I've done the camino twice and found it to be very helpful.
You can get one at:
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.