According to the travel website Skift, Google is discontinuing print production of Frommer’s travel guides.
In August, Google, which has not commented on the story, purchased Frommer’s for $22 million from John Wiley & Son, less than a year after buying Zagat and its popular series of international restaurant guidebooks. Print titles are no longer available for sale in the Frommer’s online store, although ebooks for select destinations are promoted.
After contacting 29 writers of forthcoming Frommer’s titles, Skift reported that the authors had been “informed by editors now working at Google that the books would not publish. Some authors were told that the books would merely be delayed before new contracts were signed. None of the authors contacted reported that their titles would appear in print.”
Jeff Axler, owner of Toronto’s Open Air Books & Maps, says he has not heard directly from Frommer’s but was not surprised by the rumours. He says the travel guide business has become a “bit of an endangered species,” in particular titles focusing on accommodations or restaurants, subjects well served by websites and digital apps.
Frommer’s started in 1957, with the publication of U.S. Army G.I. Arthur Frommer’s Europe on 5 Dollars a Day, a civilian remake of his popular guide for soldiers. In 1977, the imprint was sold to Simon & Schuster; John Wiley purchased it in 2001.
News of the print series’ demise follows a March 19 story that BBC-owned travel publisher Lonely Planet has been sold at a “significant loss” to NC2 Media, a Nashville-based digital company run by billionaire Brad Kelley.