Indy Editors Lose Jobs as Google to Buy Wiley's Frommer's Brand

UPDATED, 9:09 p.m. This story may be updated as more information becomes available.

Some Indianapolis-based book editors are out of jobs as early as August 24. That date may shift, but a late-August finalization is likely, as The New York Times reports today that Google will buy the Frommer’s travel brand from John Wiley & Sons, Inc., the publisher headquartered in Hoboken, N.J., for roughly $23 million. Google execs are said to be in Hoboken today to discuss and potentially sign the deal. Wiley has a Frommer’s staff of eight production editors, a production manager, two development editors, and a webmaster housed at Wiley’s office building on Crosspoint Boulevard in Fishers, a northern suburb of Indianapolis.

This news directly affects all of Wiley’s employees who work for the Frommer’s brand, most of whom are in the Hoboken office but for those Indy-based professionals noted above. Some Indy staffers may stay on during a transition time after the buy, and a career placement service has been brought in to assist departing employees. About a dozen more staffers are in Hoboken, in development, cartography, and administration/management roles.

Two sources at Wiley speaking on condition of anonymity say that the pair of Indy-based development editors will be offered jobs at Google; it is not known yet whether they must relocate if they accept or how their roles may change. Some production editors have been offered short-term deals to stay for about two months, with severance packages to follow. A phone call to an HR manager at Wiley’s Indy office was not immediately returned.

The deal will give Google significant traction in the travel industry. The Times posting notes that Wiley plans to redirect money from the sale “to bolster its trade, scientific, scholarly and educational businesses, among others.” The purchase terms have not been disclosed, but this arrives on the heels of Wiley’s announcement in March 2012 that Frommer’s was up for sale, along with other valuable brands including CliffsNotes and Webster’s New World reference tomes. All three properties that Wiley then sought to sell garner $85 million in annual revenue, per the publisher as noted in the Times story.

Wiley was started in 1807. Now a 205-year-old company with the slogan “Knowledge for Generations,” it has published over time literary giants like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and James Fenimore Cooper, among others. When Wiley celebrated its bicentennial in 2007, then-president and CEO WIlliam J. Pesce said, “Countries celebrate bicentennials, not companies.” He added, “Founded in 1807, during the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson, Wiley has endured the War of 1812, the Civil War, two World Wars, and many other conflicts, as well as the Great Depression and the ups and downs of many economic cycles, to become one of the world’s most respected publishers.”

Also from the Times posting: “In a surprise acquisition last year, Google paid $151 million for Zagat, a deal that promised to give Google a significant boost in local services. Marissa Mayer, then Google’s vice president for local, maps and location services (she recently became the chief executive at Yahoo), said the company would expand Zagat’s team of salespeople, fact-checkers, contractors and reviewers, and continue to publish the slim red guidebooks that were so closely identified with the brand.”

Full disclosure: The author of this story worked for Wiley from May 2006 until July 2011.

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