Update, 7:24 PM: The New York Times reports, citing an unidentified source, that the purchase price was $23 million.
Update, 5:00 PM: Skift reports that Frommer’s is laying off the entire Frommers.com team, while “the Frommer’s book editors will be moving from Hoboken’s waterfront to the the Zagat floor at Google’s offices in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. The Frommer’s Unlimited staff, which is made up of a number of UK residents both in the U.S. and in offices in London’s Brick Lane, will be phased out according to more complicated UK labor laws.”
Google is buying the 55-year-old Frommer’s Travel Guides from publisher John Wiley & Sons for a reported price of $23 million. The business has been up for sale since the spring.
The deal is expected to close shortly. Google hasn’t yet decided whether the Frommer’s guidebooks will continue to be published in print or whether they will eventually migrate entirely to online. It is also possible that the Frommer’s brand could be melded into the Zagat brand.
Google acquired Zagat for $151 million in September 2011 and made all of the brand’s listings free through Google+ Local in May.
Frommer’s has published over 300 guidebooks since its founding in 1957 and also includes Frommers.com, which has some travel content available for free. In addition, Frommer’s recently partnered with iOS publisher Inkling to make seven of its titles available in interactive digital editions for iPad and iPhone. Wiley — like other practical nonfiction publishers — has struggled to make its content profitable in an era when a massive amount of travel content is available free on the internet through sites like TripAdvisor.com. While Frommers.com has forums and user reviews, it is unlikely to be anybody’s go-to web destination for travel content.
Wiley announced in March that it was selling Frommer’s along with other consumer lines like Webster’s New World dictionaries and CliffsNotes. Revenue from the combined assets up for sale was around $80 million for fiscal year 2012, with Frommer’s making up an undisclosed portion of that. Wiley’s fiscal year 2012 revenues totaled $1.78 billion. In a release confirming the Frommer’s sale, Wiley reports that “proceeds from this sale, and others that may arise from the sale of other consumer assets, will be redeployed to support growth opportunities in Professional/Trade; Scientific, Technical, Medical, and Scholarly; and Global Education businesses.”