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Can Printed Travel Guidebooks Survive?

Last year, there were two major sales that pretty much answered the above question.

The BBC sold the Lonely Planet series, which it bought in 2007, to an American digital media publishing house. A few months earlier, Frommers was sold to Google.

Both buyers placed an emphasis on digital content so it seemed the handwriting was on the wall.

But not so fast. Earlier this week, Google sold Frommers to, well, Arthur Frommer, the man who started it all in 1957. Frommer said that while they would be expanding the Frommer website and ebook line, they would also continue to publish the traditional travel guides.

Frommers has had numerous owners over the years including Simon & Schuster and John Wiley & Sons. And now it’s returned to where it all started.

So perhaps at least one portion of the travel guidebook industry will continue—for awhile. Personally, I think the move to ebooks and apps is the real  future for this genre.

Google stills owns Zagats so it’s possible that line may disappear from store shelves sometime in the near future.

Reader Comments (3)

I don't think the printed travel books will disappear anytime soon but it will definately see some stiff competition from electronic alternatives. It all comes down to the preferences of the traveller and where you travel. A tablet might be more practical in the cities but off the beaten path a good book won't run out of power :)
My favourite guide books have always been National Geographic Traveler and DK (Dorling Kindersley). Fabulous photographs in both (especially NG) with extremely detailed and helpful information.......BUT, super heavy books.
I use mine before a trip, I also go online and look up info (prices and opening times may change), I gather info I need and either jot it down in a moleskine that I travel with or print out bit and pieces and discard them as I go along.
I don't have a device for apps to carry around with me and probably never will.

The only time I would willingly pack a guide book is, if the whole guide is concentrated on the area I'm visiting (i.e. the Normandy Landing Beaches and surrounding WWII historic sites), then copying / printing out that info would be an exercise in futility. I would just flag the relevant pages.

I would hate to see guide books disappear completely.
April 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaula Bag Lass
One of the downsides to having a smartphone is that a lot of the research is left until right before you need it. On a recent Vermont trip, my SO just didn't bother looking up the places he wanted to go to in advance but just left it until we were on the road then asked me to do it on the phone. The result was a headache from staring at the stupid phone waiting for the info to load, plus I didn't get to enjoy any of the scenery during the drive. We now have a policy of pulling over to the side of the road to do any substantial research on the phone. We just have to decide whether that activity/destination is worth being on the side of the road for.

Flipping through a book is so much faster than waiting for a phone to load.
April 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertcl

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