The market for guidebooks has suffered in recent years, with a number of travel publishers feeling the pinch of free online content. When travelers have the power to look up street level maps, book online reservations, and follow blogs with up to date information on where to stay and what to see, printed guidebooks seem pretty irrelevant. Unfortunately, publishers’ attempts to incorporate digital editions and app versions of their books have not been as widely received as might be expected, as travelers seemed hesitant to walk the streets of a foreign city with their noses buried in a tablet, assuming wifi was even available to access all of the enhanced features.
For one publisher, though, the past year of uncertainty is starting to look up. Lonely Planet, whose market share for guidebooks is on the rise, also saw a more than seventeen percent increase in profit over the course of 2013. While this increase occurred while the brand was still owned by BBC as opposed to its current owner NC2, expectations are good for the trend to continue.
One of the difficulties a publisher of this type of material faces is that sales of its product genre are directly tied to the economic fluctuations its customer base faces. As unemployment and fiscal concerns take over, consumers tend to spend less on guidebooks for vacations they cannot imagine taking in this economic climate. Lonely Planet has felt these effects, having to lay off staff over the course of the past year and enduring reports that BBC called its acquisition of the brand a mistake. Fortunately, reports from within the company show that dozens of new positions have been created in recent months, showing that the publisher is seeing an upturn in readership and profit.