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Travel guide fans, fear not: Frommer buys Frommer's from Google

April 04, 2013|By Carolyn Kellogg
  • Arthur Frommer with his daughter, Pauline Frommer, in New York.
Arthur Frommer with his daughter, Pauline Frommer, in New York. (Seth Wenig / Associated…)

Things have not been looking good for travel guides lately. In mid March, BBC Worldwide announced that it would sell the Lonely Planet travel guide series for the low, low price of $77.8 million -- less than half of what it paid for the property in 2007, at a loss of more than $120 million. A week later, news came that Google, which owned rival travel guide Frommer's, would cease its print publication.

But take heart, fans of the well-thumbed guidebook, the pocket-sized print paperback pointing the way to landmarks and restaurants, markets and train stations, beaches and ice bars. Because Arthur Frommer is buying Frommer's from Google, just in time to keep its print guides alive. His daughter Pauline will be co-president of the new Frommer Media; her involvement with the brand includes writing guidebooks to New York and London.

"It's a very happy time for me," Arthur Frommer told the Associated Press. "We will be publishing the Frommer travel guides in ebook and print formats and will also be operating the travel site"

Frommer, 83, got his start with the 1957 hit "Europe on 5 Dollars a Day," which he self-published. He spent 20 years building his guidebook brand before selling it to Simon & Schuster in 1977. Frommer's changed hands and was sold to Google last year by Wylie & Sons for $22 million.

Frommer's content has been absorbed by Google, the search giant confirmed to the Associated Press. The last print editions of its travel books, until Arthur Frommer's intervention, were to have been in February 2013.

As it is, look for print copies of Frommer's guidebooks again in the fall. Frommer told the Wall Street Journal, "Starting this autumn, we plan to publish some 40 titles, 20 of which will be available digitally and in print, and the other half available only in print."


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