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.