Google Ending Print Editions of Frommer's Travel Guides

Seven months after acquiring the Frommer's guides, the print editions are apparently being ended, according to a report.

Google, which bought the well-known Frommer's Travel Guide book series last year, is now ending the print versions of the well-known guides as it moves to all-electronic versions.

The apparent move was reported in a March 21 story by Skift, a travel publishing Website.

"The last two Frommer's books to roll off the presses were guides in the all-color Day-by-Day series devoted to Napa and Sonoma and Banff and the Rockies," which went on sale in early February, the story reported. "The last book in the traditional complete guide series was Frommer's Florida in late December."

The story was written by Jason Clampet, a former editor at Clampet did not respond to an email request from eWEEK for further comment.

"Starting with Frommer's New York City With Kids, which can still be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and in other bookstore inventories and was supposed to publish on February 19, the entire future list of Frommer's titles will not see the light of day," Clampet wrote. "Many of the authors attached to these 29 titles told Skift that they were 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."

Frommer's, a name well-known and beloved by consumers for its travel guides to destinations around the world, was acquired by Google in August 2012 as the search giant continued its efforts to build richer troves of content that can help it increase online local search ad revenue, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Google bought Frommer's from publisher John Wiley & Sons, which was selling off some of its consumer print and digital products.

The acquisition price was not revealed at that time, but according to the Skift report, it totaled about $22 million.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter when contacted by eWEEK.

The big tip-off to the demise of the Frommer's books was that no new titles have been announced for the print book series, reported the Skift story.

"Typically, at this time of year the Frommer's catalog contains over a hundred titles in multiple series, including the perennial best-sellers and big European titles that publish in the fall, such as Paris, Rome and London," the story reported. "Those titles have not been issued ISBN numbers or been assigned to past authors. Competitor Fodor's already has its covers and pre-orders available on online bookstores."

In addition, the online bookstore that had previously been a part of the Website was removed last September, according to Skift. And once Google took over the company, "editors began contacting book authors to cancel forthcoming titles or tell them there would be delays," Skift reported.

One book series acquired in the Google purchase from Wiley, the Unofficial Guide series—which includes the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World—will continue in print, according to Skift.

By buying the Frommer's line, Google is continuing to go where the money is as it works to push more ads in the lucrative local service marketplace as consumers go online for up-to-date travel information. By providing quality content that consumers are seeking, Google can lure advertisers to place ads on the Web pages, increasing their revenue.

The move added another big name to Google's brand stable after the company purchased Zagat, another well-known company that aggregates reviews on restaurants, nightspots, hotels and other attractions from more than 350,000 surveyors around the world.

The September 2011 acquisition of Zagat was a success story for Google after several other well-publicized purchases failed big time. Google unsuccessfully sought to buy local review powerhouse Yelp in 2009 and group coupon provider Groupon in 2010. After those deals died, Google went on to relaunch its local search product as Google Places, significantly improving the service with its own recommendation engine and reviews.