Travel Guide Founder Resurrects Printed Edition to Compete with Google – April 2013 M&A Activity
Is there print after Google? The 83-year old founder of the Frommer’s brand travel guides certainly thinks so. Less than eight months after Google purchased the iconic Frommer’s brand from publisher John Wiley & Sons, Google has sold the brand to founder Arthur Frommer. Frommer, who originally sold his company in 1977, plans to rescind Google’s decision to cease printing and start up the presses once again. He’ll have to compete with the online services offered by Google, which claims to have gleaned all the travel content it wanted before selling the brand back to Frommer. We reported on Google’s purchase of Frommer’s in August 2012, suggesting that the acquisition was indicative that content is king. Since Google now has the content, can the resurrected print edition survive?
The evolution of printing companies into internet savvy multi-media service providers continued with deals consummated by some of the signature names in the printing industry. Quad Graphics purchased a minority interest in Pixability, a company that provides expertise and analytics for video advertisers using the YouTube platform. Courier, one of America’s oldest and largest book printers, acquired FastPencil, a content management and self-publishing platform. Shutterfly, never a traditional printer, acquired MyPublisher, building on its strong position in personal printed products sold through online storefronts.
Manufacturers of printing devices moved major pieces around on the international game board. Lexmark, as we reported in March, is moving away from the devices and firmly into managing content and delivering that content to a wide variety of output devices, sold its inkjet business to Funai Electric of Osaka, Japan. Moving in the opposite direction, Brother Industries, also headquartered in Japan, took the stalking horse position as the buyer of scanners and related assets in a proposed 363 sale in Kodak’s bankruptcy proceeding.
When it announced its purchase of Wausau’s specialty paper business last month, KPS Capital Partners hinted that it had a second target in its sight. Contingent on the completion of the Wausau transaction, KPS will acquire Thilmany Papers’ two mills that produce specialty papers. The new entity will comprise four Wisconsin mills and has yet to be named, but it’s clear that general commercial grades need not apply.