Google Kills Frommer’s Print Guides, Will That Kill the Brand Too?

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 11.26.01 AMGoogle has killed the Frommer’s print guides, according to travel news site Skift:

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.

Google has so far maintained the Zagat dining guides in print. In addition Skift says that the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, which Google also acquired from Wiley, will continue to publish in print for at least the time being.

Presumably Google will maintain the Frommer’s stand-alone website and mobile apps going forward. However, in the absence of the print guide it’s quite possible that the Frommer’s brand will quickly lose value over the next 12 – 24 months. Indeed, the strength of Frommer’s is tied to its long history and print legacy. A multi-platform publication is stronger than an online only one.

Print is expensive but it’s part of the brand. If print goes away then Frommer’s is just another travel site/app in a sea of them. And TripAdvisor is much stronger (I would speculate) than Frommer’s as a stand alone internet or mobile property.

If Google just wants “travel content” it can hire freelancers to write editorial pieces on hotels and cities and things to do for much less than paying the authors of these Frommer’s travel guides. That’s probably the direction it’s all heading.

Google may have taken a hard look at the print numbers and sales trajectory and decided it simply wasn’t worth it to maintain them. But I would argue that as print disappears so too does the brand and its value.

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