The move to digital has not removed the need for expert advice, but it has upended how print guidebook companies work and forced them to adapt to a publishing cycle that traditional print publishers are not always equipped to understand.
Penguin Random House announced today that it had sold its Fodor’s Travel Guide brand to Internet Brands for an undisclosed sum.
“The Fodor’s name is legendary, and we have a deep appreciation for its history and the direct impact Fodor’s has on the way people explore new places,” said Bob Brisco, CEO at Internet Brands said in a statement.
Although Internet Brands will take ownership of Fodor’s content, it will continue to use Penguin Random House to print and distribute physical guidebooks.
“For Fodor’s to now reach its fullest e-commerce potential we believe the best path forward is for it to become part of Internet Brands,” Markus Dohle, CEO of Penguin Random House, said in the same statement.
In addition to Fodor’s, Penguin Random House publishes both the Rough Guide series and DK Eyewitness travel guides, and distributes other travel guide brands, too. “There is no change in our publishing and distribution plans for either of them,” Claire von Schilling, Penguin Random House’s SVP of Corporate Communications, told Skift.
The three major guidebook brands in the U.S. have all changed ownership hands in the last four years. In August 2012 John Wiley and Sons sold Frommer’s to Google for $22 million, which Google subsequently returned to founder Arthur Frommer six months later. Frommer subsequently re-launched the print guides six months later. In March 2013, the BBC sold Lonely Planet to a company run by a billionaire landowner based in Tennessee.
In March Fodor’s underwent executive changes in March when Vice President and Editor-in-Chief Arabella Bowen left after a period of staff downsizing that began earlier in the year. Under Bowen the brand had grown its website audience dramatically and changed publishing so that it often published digital-only guides to certain destinations.
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Photo credit: An e-book version of a Fodor's guidebook. The 80-year-old guidebook changed hands today as Internet Brands purchased the brand from Penguin Random House. Skift