Thus the turmoil in guidebook world continues. The impending closure of Frommer's print division has been likely since the August sale to Google, but this is the first clear sign that the series will not continue in its current form.
Google has ceased production and publication of printed guidebooks bearing the Frommer’s brand name, Skift has learned.
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, and went on sale in early February. The last book in the traditional complete guide series was Frommer’s Florida in late December.
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. 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 purchased Frommer’s Travel and Unofficial Guides from Wiley in August 2012 for $22 million. The search giant would not comment on the present or future of the travel brand name, print series, or digital assets.
We tweeted this from the New York Times Travel show earlier this year:
— Skift (@skift) January 19, 2013
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. 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.
Soon after the Frommer’s guidebook team moved from Wiley to Google, editors began contacting book authors to cancel forthcoming titles or tell them there would be delays, according to authors Skift spoke to. Google removed the bookstore from Frommers.com in September of last year.
One bright spot for print?
Google also purchased the Unofficial Guide series from Wiley and the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is one of the best-selling guidebooks in the U.S. According to people Skift spoke with, the series will continue in print.
Unofficial publisher and founder Bob Sehlinger told Skift today, “The Unofficial Guides will continue to be published in print and also be available as eBooks. The creators of the Unofficial Guides, Menasha Ridge Press, will enjoy greater autonomy and editorial control than under Wiley.”
Disclosure: The author was previously the editor of Frommers.com.
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Photo credit: The first edition of "Europe on $5 a Day" alongside "Frommer's Belize," which is the last title in the series that has a cover image on Amazon.com.