Google just agreed to buy Zagat Restaurant Guides for somewhere between $100-$200-million. Zagat information will be added to GoogleMaps. This will help and expand the usefulness of GoogleMaps. Plus more people will be viewing Zagat information now.
This is an example of how something that once was a string physical book seller is now being sold off to a digital-only company. It is an indication of how the world has changed in the past decade.
Zagat’s best selling guide is the NYC RESTAURANT GUIDE. They claim 600,000 sell each year. I am sure that is the case because the books are basically everywhere. Physical distribution has been stellar. Nielsen Bookscan tracks industry sales. They don’t cover all retailers and especially will under-report Zagat sales because of the vast specialty accounts that buy the guides. Plus the proprietary guides are not reported.
The Guides come out every OCT. The OCT 2001 guide to NYC sold 157,000 Bookscan. The OCT 2010 guide to NYC sold 54,000. That is 1/3 of the sales just a decade ago. This is a direct result of consumers getting this information online and no longer in books. The same has happened to all travel and guidebooks — from Fodor’s to Frommer’s to NFT.
I used to buy Zagat’s every year.
I love the simplicity of the ratings and the ease of browsing. I also enjoy the size.
But I stopped three years ago when I got my iPhone. I tried to use the Zagat iPhone App but found it lacking. I stared using Yelp! and Foursquare and other free on-line services. I liked them better. I also like the way they could be mapped. I still wrote my reviews, but no longer on Zagat.
This is why the move by Google and Zagat to combine makes a lot of sense. The brand awareness is high. Now they will be integrated into Net like never before. It may not reverse the decline of print, but it definitely will increase the usage on-line and mobile.
Zagat’s is now back in the center of the action.