This article presents a paratextual analysis of a genre-specific case of the book publishing industry, namely that of travel guidebook publishing. Paratexts refer to all the ‘accompanying’ textual instances that gravitate around, but never completely pertain to, the ‘primary’, authorial text. In contrast to prevalent theorisations of paratexts as simultaneous hermeneutic and marketing frameworks that regulate a reader’s interpretive practices (reception) and/or media purchasing habits (consumption), I suggest that paratexts are vehicles through which media production companies engage in auto-communication, that is, self-interpret with a view to legitimating an ethical, virtuous and authentic institutional self. I furthermore suggest that a media company’s paratextual legitimation efforts unfold in reference to the genre, under the label of which its media products are produced, promoted and distributed. Genres are central to media institutions’ legitimacy, while the paratext is the principal conduit through which legitimation is conveyed.