Frommer Watch: Stop Screwing Me

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Arthur’s more than little peeved this week, and it’s east to see why. In an apparent kickback arrangement between British mega-retailer W.H. Smith and Penguin books, the store will soon be selling Penguin-only travel guides (read: no Frommers) in their ubiquitous outlets found in nearly every airport and train station in Great Britain.

As Arthur points out: “Penguin travel books accounted for only 18% of the travel books sold by W.H. Smith. The public, by an overwhelming margin, opted to choose travel books published by others. In travel bookshops of W.H. Smith, they will no longer find the books that used to account for over 80% of their choices.”

I’ve got to agree. It’s bad enough that most airport bookstores are stocked to the ceiling with “Twilight” books and Dan Brown novels, the least they could do is cater to the active traveler and offer a full range of travel guides — Kickback or not. Nothing against Penguin, but at least allow the people a choice. This smacks of Microsoft-like business practice. What about banning something useful in airports, like McDonalds or crying babies? I’m just saying . . .

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