provide custom web content based on its books.
Fodor’s publishes all of its destination guide content online,
says Amanda D’Acierno, senior vice president and publisher.
“We know that travelers consult many resources in various
formats when they’re planning a trip, so it’s paramount to us
that we provide our editors’ advice in any format a traveler
might need it, be that a print guidebook, e-book, mobile app,
online at Fodors.com, or even on our social media platforms,”
she says, explaining that the different formats complement
rather than compete with one another.
Bill Newlin, publisher of Avalon Travel (which publishes the
Rick Steves and Moon guides), notes that from January through
June 2014, Rick Steves posted a 9% increase in revenue, and
Moon grew by 25%, over the same period in 2013—“even more
than our successful e-book editions of both series.” To supplement their print siblings, e-books contain features like hyper-linked content listings and pan-and-zoom maps.
Despite—or perhaps because of—digital innovations, publishers remain optimistic that print guides will continue to appeal
“The fact that travel information now comes in many forms,
including user-generated content, has expanded travelers’
awareness of the value of superior information, and travel guides
are benefiting from that awareness,” Newlin says. “In some ways
the easy availability of contact and location information means
travel guides can spend less space on what’s commonly available
and concentrate on our core strength: uncommon advice.”
Frommer believes that print guidebooks stand out from on-
line clutter because of the curated content written by his “trust-
ed writers” from around the world. “The digital phenomenon
is beginning to wane because a large number of people are start-
ing to realize that sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp are being
manipulated by hotels and restaurants. It’s increasingly becom-
ing difficult to know which comments are honest and which are
fake,” he says. “We’re seeing online content have less of an im-
pact on our sales now.” FrommerMedia’s line of 256-page
EasyGuides, which include a detachable map, are one way of
bridging the gap between the ease of online research and the
Guidebook publishers are working to complement, rather than
compete with, digital content
BY ALIA AKKAM
Since PW last surveyed the travel landscape a year ago, guidebook publishers have continued their quest to stay relevant in the digital age. With a plethora of information now instantly available online, rifling through pages for basic, sometimes
outdated, intel may have appeared to be a bygone ritual. But
instead of witnessing its demise, 2014 saw the adaptation of the
guidebook, which translated to a surprising rise in sales.
Piers Pickard, Lonely Planet’s publishing director, notes that
the company experienced a bright year, selling out of key gift
titles during the holiday season, outperforming the market with
growing sales, and increasing market share by almost two points.
Likewise, guidebook pioneer Arthur Frommer, who, along
with daughter and copresident Pauline, rebooted his company
as FrommerMedia after a short stint of being owned by Google,
says large travel publishers overall performed “extremely well
in 2014. Travel is very much on the upswing. We not only
have a definite economic recovery, but the dollar, in recent days,
has reached its highest level, making international travel so
much more feasible.” As testament to this surge in interest,
when FrommerMedia relaunched its travel series in October
2013, there were almost 30 titles; by the end of 2014, there
were more than 70.
It Takes Two
Travel’s robust digital presence may have initially alarmed publishers, but they are now seeing the benefit of a tag-team
approach to print and digital.
Globe Pequot, which Rowman & Littlefield acquired in May
2014, digitizes all of the content in its Insiders’ Guides. This
means, says Pieter Van Noordenen, Rowman & Littlefield’s
director of digital development, “we can easily syndicate it to
third parties,” including City-Data.com and Weather.com.
Globe Pequot is also working on a trial project with Slicebooks.
com, which lets readers buy chapters from different books. “We
think this works especially well in the travel space, since if you
are going to, say, Denver, you could pull the relevant chapters
from our Food Lover’s Guide, Beer Lover’s Guide, Best Scenic Drives,
and Best Day Trips,” Van Noordenen explains. Further, Globe
Pequot is exploring partnerships with state tourism boards to