April 8, 2009

Lonely Planet getting lonlier


Several British publishers have lashed out at the recent governmental report criticizing the BBC‘s ppurcchase of travel publisher Lonely Planet for a “gobsmacking” amount of money. (See the report from yesterday’s MobyLives.) According to a report by Victoria Gallagher for The Bookseller, another publisher of a popular travel series, Time Out chair Tony Elliot, says he’s “still outraged” about the purchase and is disappointed Parliament’s Select Committee did not recommend a forced sale of Lonely Planet.

“Nothing has changed” since the report, says Elliot, “we are still outraged and we will continue to attempt to get a change of some description to get a level playing field.”

Meanwhile Elliot’s colleague Peter Fiennes, managing director of Time Out, says he feels “vidicated by the report, because it ecchoed “what Time Out orignally said,” which was that “the BBC is out of control and needs reining in”.

Bradt managing director Donald Greig agreed, saying the BBC was indeed “slightly out of hand,” and he didn’t think the report was strong enough, either: “I don’t think it’s a good thing and I don’t think it should be allowed.”

In response, the BBC Trust said it would give the report “careful consideration.”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.