Arthur Frommer gets a chance to turn back the clock

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One of America’s best-known travel writers, Frommer has just completed the deal of a lifetime , buying back the rights to publish his series of travel guides from search engine giant Google and for a token fee.

Arthur Frommer

Arthur Frommer, at the ripe old age of eighty-four, intends to give his long-running career as a travel writer a whole new lease of life, and he intends to do so through seeing the travel guides that he began writing while serving in the US Army during the fifties go back into print in his name after a gap of close to forty years, after Google stepped in to acquire the Travel Guides from John Wiley, the well known educational publisher.

 

Frommer’s comeback story began in August of last year when Google struck a deal to buy the publishing rights of all of Frommer’s books from John Wiley, paying out in the region of $22 million for the privilege. As has been their policy with other companies that they have acquired, Frommer’s Travel Guides were immediately absorbed under the Google label to increase their presence in the fast growing low cost travel sector.

Google, unlike Wiley or any of the other publishing companies who have owned Frommer’s travel guides since the seventies were not interested in publishing them in printed form. A decision that inspired the maestro of low cost travel to approach Brin and Page to suggest that he would like the opportunity to see his books go back into print under his signature. The Google boys replied in the positive, selling Frommer  the print publishing rights for a token sum that is to remain confidential.

Brin and Page also further displayed their well known magnanimity by readily agreeing to Frommer’s request to use his name on the travel website he established a number of years ago, which has become a popular source of information for the budget traveller, despite the fact that, in a lot of ways, the site might be construed as being a competitor of Google.

 

Arthur Frommer was born in Jefferson City, Missouri, and settled with his family in Brooklyn, New York during the mid Nineteen Forties, going on to study at the New York University in where he gained a degree in political science, and later graduating with honors from Yale Law School, where he also gained his first experiences in the world of media through editing the prestigious Yale Law Journal.

With the United States at war in Korea, Frommer received his call up papers, instead of being sent to the jungles of Asia, Arthur was sent to serve in Europe, in the stage of recovering from the devastation of World War II. The American army still had a very large presence in Germany and Frommer spent a lot of time travelling around the Europe and getting to know some of its culture.

It was during the time that he was serving in Germany, that the writing spark was kindled in Frommer, and after the reasonable success with a guidebook that he published under the title of The GI’s Guide to Traveling In Europe, his next publication under the title of Europe on 5 Dollars a Day, which proved to be a tremendous hit.

After finishing his military service, Frommer returned to the United States and began following his chosen career as a lawyer, joining a well known legal practice in New York.

As well as  his obligations to his day job, Frommer continued unabated with his writing career, using any free time that he had to gain the hands on experience to write low cost travel guide books covering venues throughout not only Europe will also North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

By the early sixties, Frommer recalls, it became impossible to juggle his two careers any longer, and he decided to devote his considerable time and energy to focusing on the travel industry, not only in writing about travel but also becoming a tour organizer and eventually  diversifying into the hotel business.

By the late seventies, Frommer’s publishing company was renowned throughout the world of travel and the hospitality company that he had established was diversifying in many directions. Eventually by 1977 Frommer’s  travel guide book publishing actiities had evolved to such an extent that the decision was made to place its future in the hands of internationally renowned publishing house Simon & Schuster.

Simon & Schuster held onto the rights to publish the Frommer’s series for a number of years before selling it on. After that the publishing rights changed hands a number of times before being eventually purchased by John Wiley & Sons in 2001.

Now with his publishing empire back in his hands once again, Arthur Frommer can feel that he has gone full circle and help young backpackers plan the same journeys of discovery throughout the World that he took more than a half a century ago.

 

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