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Google sold Frommer’s Travel — but kept all the social media data

10 April 2013

From Paid Content:

Mystery solved. Many were scratching their heads over why Google sold Frommer’s Travel Guides this month — less than a year after buying the brand for $22 million. The answer is the same as for why Google does nearly anything: data.

As Skift reported Tuesday, Google handed over the company to founder Arthur Frommer sans social media accounts. In other words, Google is keeping all of the followers that Frommer’s accrued on Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, Google+, YouTube and Pinterest. These thousands — or more likely millions — of accounts are valuable because they represent a huge collection of serious travel enthusiasts.

While Google will not keep the Frommer’s name, it’s able to keep the followers by simply changing the name on the account; in the case of Twitter, all of the @FrommersTravel followers are now following Google-owned @ZagatTravel.

. . . .

In response to a question about the social media accounts and the price of the sale, Google provided this response:

We’re focused on providing high-quality local information to help people quickly discover and share great places, like a nearby restaurant or the perfect vacation destination. That’s why we’ve spent the last several months integrating the travel content we acquired from Wiley into Google+ Local and our other Google services. We can confirm that we have returned the Frommer’s brand to its founder and are licensing certain travel content to him.

Link to the rest at Paid Content

PG thinks this is a data point about how much value Google discovered in the traditional publishing side of Frommer’s — very little. The customers were worth more than the content even though Frommer guides are published in hard copy and ebook forms.

Google finds value in places that others do not. However, if PG is right, this raises an interesting question about where the true value of an author resides. Are the author’s readers, Twitter followers, blog visitors, etc., worth more than the author’s books, especially if the author’s readers represent a huge collection of serious enthusiasts about some subject?

PG has often said the best parts of this blog are the comments. If PG thinks about the value of The Passive Voice (no, it’s not for sale nor does PG think it ever will be), he believes the most valuable part of TPV is the people who come here, particularly those who share their opinions.

Just sayin’.

Google

11 Comments to “Google sold Frommer’s Travel — but kept all the social media data”

  1. Fascinating, but also a little alarming for someone like me, who is not particularly good at social media.

  2. Google’s monopoly is continuing to rise at a good pace. I have always used Frommer’s guide for travel info.

  3. he believes the most valuable part of TPV is the people who come here, particularly those who share their opinions.

    As a PG fan, I would be extremely ticked off if a purchaser tried to foist a substitute PG on me. I’m not a follower of Frommel’s, but I imagine some of them feel the same way.

    • I suspect there is little overlay between customers using Frommel’s online services and those who buy the hardcover editions.

      From Google’s POV the online clientele are the ones who’ll bring in revenue long term. I also think people browsing goes where the information is best displayed. Brand loyalty is less strong in digital form.

    • No ersatz PG’s anywhere around here, Laurie.

  4. PG asks – “Are the author’s readers, Twitter followers, blog visitors, etc., worth more than the author’s books?”

    To the marketing departments at Big Publishing Houses, absolutely yes. And have been, in fiction as well as non-fiction, for quite some time. And they’ve had final decision on purchases for too long.

    I know of an author who writes rather lackluster books, but was bought because of her large social media following.

    I have an acquaintance (Ann Charles) who had editors LOVE her books, only to get the acquisition shot down in marketing, since she writes slightly off-genre and had no ‘platform’. Lucky her, she went on to self-pub her Deadwood series, is currently ranked the #6 author on Amazon in horror and is making quite a decent living…

    • Ugh. I can’t wait until all of this “platform” craziness blows over.

      I want to see more books out of writers I like, not posts about whatever it is they post about. Unless they’re posting that the next book is available. That’s acceptable.

    • If publishers are so necessary for book promotions, why in hades does the Author need a “platform”? Isn’t the publisher supposed to provide that? “WE, RANDOM PENGUIN HOUSE, PRONOUNCE THIS BOOK TO BE GOOD. BUY IT. YOU’LL LIKE IT.”

  5. As a PG fan, I’m worth a million bucks, myself. Heck, if they’re looking to buy and want a few more readers, I’ll throw in a couple of my kids, half price.

  6. >>PG has often said the best parts of this blog are the comments. If PG thinks about the value of The Passive Voice (no, it’s not for sale nor does PG think it ever will be), he believes the most valuable part of TPV is the people who come here, particularly those who share their opinions.>>>

    many of us appreciate your faithfulness to uploading and choosing what you offer to us. Appreciate your discernment as much as your daily-ness commitment. Thank you truly.

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