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.