It's just a parody by Jeff, but still a good laugh at the corporate insensitivity and ruthless impersonal actions of Bill Newlin in recent years.

Reuters Newswire

Blackwater USA, the private security firm hired by the Department of Defense and the State Department to provide support in Baghdad, announced today that it has urchased Avalon Travel Publishing. The sale was announced after the close of trading on the Dow Jones Stock Exchange.

"I've long admired the management style of Avalon, particularly the Moon component," said Col. (Retired) Mike Hammer, CEO of the controversial security firm. "I thought we ran a tough outfit, but after seeing how Bill Newlin and his people deal with authors, we knew we had to have his team on board with us. The best way to get talent, I always say, is to go out and buy it."

Hammer elaborated on the management style at Moon. "I admire a kick-ass company with absolutely no heart. That's what it takes to succeed today. If someone's been with you for more than four years, throw them out! They're useless. Cut the wages and hire some dumb bastards who don't know any better. That's how we try to operate at
Blackwater, but we're pikers compared to these guys at Moon. I expect to learn a lot from from them in the coming months."

Hammer and Newlin announced the titles to be released in the spring of 2008:

--Road Trip Iraq: Jamie Jenson dodges IEDs for a humorous romp through Fallujah, Tikrit, and Mossel.

--Rick Steve's Green Zone Through the Back Door (Quickly! Quickly!)

--The Practically Dead Nomad, by Edward Hasbrouck

--The Run Over Dog Lover's Guide to Iran, by Margaret Littman

Newlin announced that the few authors being retained by Moon will be asked to input more typesetting codes and, beginning in January of 2008, to glue the covers on their books. "We call these Moon 'Handbooks,'" he noted, "so we think that authors ought to have a hand in the production."

Hammer and Newlin also announced a new website that will focus on management. "We've had a lot of success with," said Newlin, "so our new site, which we will roll out when we hire a new web crew to replace the one we just fired, will be called"

Media inquiries should be sent to Hannah Cox.

# # #

With love and happiness to all,


| edit post

Way to go Harper Collins and editor Paul Friedman who will soon produce a book that ignores the civil and military atrocities of the Tiananman Square massacre, and so intend their book to gain favor with the Chinese authorities.

The politics of guidebooks
By Finlo Rohrer
BBC News Magazine

A new book for travellers to China plans to make no mention of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Should travel guides tell the whole history of a place, or bow to local sensitivities?

Hotels are a must. So are tips on the local cuisine. A few key phrases. Some maps. A list of the best tourist sites and their opening hours. Perhaps some cultural do and don'ts.

...and this is another

All are key ingredients of a typical guide book. And yet many also feel the need to offer something more - a grounding in the history of the place that can help flesh out its culture, architecture and art.

Take Nuremberg. You could describe the city's medieval architecture, its beautiful perch on the River Pegnitz and its role in the German Renaissance.

But many travellers might find it strange if you didn't mention the Nazis' Nuremberg rallies. At least once.

And one might find it a little surprising that HarperCollins is to publish a guide entitled Travel Around China to coincide with 2008's Beijing Olympics that will make no mention of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

I don't think talk about the killings is appropriate for a travel guide

Phil Friedman, HarperCollins

The 1989 protest that culminated in demonstrators being fired on by soldiers, and the death of hundreds, is a taboo subject in China. Internet searches that would throw up results relating to the episode are censored. Newspapers do not mention it.

HarperCollins are yet to confirm the content of the book - compiled from contributions from native Chinese writers - but the prospects do not seem to favour a mention.

Years of history

Editor Phil Friedman - who is working on the book - says people want different things from a travel guide.

"I don't think talk about the killings is appropriate for a travel guide... Tiananmen Square had thousands of years of history before that occurred. Tiananmen is a feudal site, hugely important historic site. I'm not sure people travelling there would go there because there were shootings."

You could praise Nuremberg's architecture...
But to Independent travel editor Simon Calder, this attitude is problematic.

"Travel guides are not just about telling you where to get a cheap bed and meet the locals in civil circumstances. They are helping you to understand a place," he says.

"The notion you could get a proper idea of a country as complex, fascinating and in many ways alarming as China without knowing about the history and politics is preposterous."

BBC Link

| edit post

Lonely Planet Responds

Posted by Chika On 8:41 PM 0 comments

Tony Wheeler has taken some heat recently from fans of Lonely Planet who accuse him of selling out to a British government media monopoly which will only exploit his vast storage of travel information and use it for the exploitation of the masses. But most readers seem to think this is an OK match and that LP-BBC Worldwide will be a comfortable merger that will someday send travel information to travelers on the road along with upscale tourists who still want to know the dance schedule at Nana. Time will tell.

Here's what Tony has to say to the readers of Thorn Tree:

A Message from Tony & Maureen Wheeler
Posted at 05:02PM Oct 02, 2007 by CarolB
A message to the Thorn Tree community from Tony & Maureen Wheeler:

It's time.

Yes, it's finally happened, after 34 years almost to the month, we’re moving on from Lonely Planet. We could say it's so we have more time for travel, but the reality is we've known for some time that Lonely Planet has to make a big step into the future.

But guidebooks are only part of Lonely Planet, the non-print part of our activities from websites to Lonely Planet Images, LPTV to B2B projects, may be a smaller part in turnover terms, but it’s the area which we believe is going to become increasingly important. Since 1994 we have spent a lot of time and money trying to find ways to help travellers access the immense amount of information we have on just about everywhere, as, how, when and where they want it.

We have developed useful tools online for travellers and instigated the mighty Thorn Tree, but to really develop this medium to its fullest extent, to be as innovative and as powerful a resource online as we are in print, we need help. The books subsidise everything else and are the basis of everything we do. We need to continue to invest in researching and collating information, but as technology develops we also need expertise and financial muscle to really exploit our full potential as the travel information authority of the future.

Enter BBC Worldwide. It's the side of the BBC which produces and markets BBC projects for the outside world, not just the British radio and television programs but also magazines, international TV channels, websites and mobile services. It's global, it has a wonderful reputation and as of today it's the new majority owner of Lonely Planet.

Why did we choose them? We had many offers from digital companies to international publishing houses to private entrepreneurs, and many were interesting, however BBCW got our attention because on so many important levels they 'got' Lonely Planet. Innovative and quirky, authoritative and trustworthy, ethical and principled are all words that we use within Lonely Planet to describe our company. All these words can also be applied to BBCW. We have spent several months getting to know BBCW and we are confident they are the right partner to help us take Lonely Planet into the future.

What changes is this going to mean? Only positive ones we believe. Their view is the book side of the operation ain't broke so they don’t have to fix it. That side will continue with new projects and new ideas just as it is doing today. The other side of Lonely Planet – that non-print side – is going to get a lot more energy and push.

And what will we do? Well we’re still going to have a substantial stake in Lonely Planet – 25% ownership – and BBCW have asked us to stay on board and work with them. We think we're going to be involved in some exciting new projects. And we might get more time to travel.

Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Message from Tony Wheeler

| edit post

Lonely Planet Sold to BBC Worldwide

Posted by Chika On 7:55 PM 0 comments

This momentous event in travel publishing history took place a few weeks ago, but it seems that the word hasn't really gotten out that Tony Wheeler has sold his legendary Lonely Planet to BBC Worldwide for an estimated $200M, plus he's keeping 25% in his back pocket....just in case.

BBC Worldwide buys Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet publishes guides to 500 destinations

BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, has bought the travel guide publisher, Lonely Planet. Lonely Planet, founded by husband and wife team Tony and Maureen Wheeler in 1972, publishes around 500 titles that are widely used by backpackers.

The purchase fits in with BBC plans to grow online revenues and expand operations in America and Australia. Lonely Planet also produces travel programmes and its web site receives 4.3 million visitors a month. The Wheelers, who owned the business along with John Singleton, will retain a 25% shareholding in the company.

"We felt that BBC Worldwide would provide a platform true to our vision and values, while allowing us to take the business to the next level," they said.

The amount paid was not disclosed. The BBC said that the deal would strengthen Lonely Planet's visibility and growth potential. It would also allow Lonely Planet users to access BBC content - such as Michael Palin's New Europe.

After travelling overland from Europe to Australia, the Wheelers produced their first book, Across Asia on the Cheap, from their kitchen table. Today, Lonely Planet has offices in Melbourne, Oakland and London, with more than 500 office employees and more than 300 on-the-road authors.

BBC Link

And another report with more information and terms and price.

BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the British Broadcasting Corp., bought Lonely Planet in a deal that values the travel publisher at about 100 million pounds ($203 million), a person familiar with the talks said.
Lonely Planet founders Maureen and Tony Wheeler will keep a 25 percent stake, the BBC said Monday.

The couple, who met on a bench in The Regent's Park of London, started the publisher in 1972 after a honeymoon trip across Asia with "a beat-up old car, a few dollars in the pocket and a sense of adventure," Lonely Planet's Web site says.

More than 30 years after Across Asia on the Cheap, the couple have made about 70 million pounds ($142 million) on the sale, figures from the source suggest, since they owned about 90 percent of the business.

"Joining BBC Worldwide allows us to secure the long-term future of our company within a globally recognized media group," the Wheelers said in a statement.

Lonely Planet, headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, publishes about 500 travel guides, including language, cycling and walking titles. The company, which employs 500 staff and as many as 300 on-the-road authors, has recently targeted a mature traveling audience after focusing on campers and backpackers for decades.

The deal will help the BBC become "one of the world's leading content businesses," BBC Worldwide Chief Executive John Smith said.

The broadcaster also aims to grow online brands, and to increase its operations in Australia and North America, Smith said.

"The association will strengthen Lonely Planet's visibility and growth potential, particularly in the digital arena, as well as providing their users access to the wide range of BBC content (that) connects with their interests," said Etienne de Villiers, nonexecutive chairman of BBC Worldwide.

Deloitte Touche Tohumatsu's Corporate Finance Advisory arm, as well as Australian law firm Blake Dawson Waldron, advised the BBC on the purchase, the broadcaster said.

ZD Net Link

And the best coverage with the best links comes from the Los Angeles Times.

Lonely Planet founders ’sell out’ to BBC Worldwide

The British Broadcasting Trust and Lonely Planet Publications announced today that Lonely Planet’s founders, Tony Wheeler and Maureen Wheeler, have sold their majority stake in Lonely Planet to British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Worldwide for an undisclosed sum.

Here’s a link to an upbeat video of Tony and Maureen’s official ‘adieu’ announcement on [after the 15-second ad].

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is reporting a sale price of $250 million [in Australian dollars, or roughly US$220mil]. Reuters pegs the price at 100 million pounds (or US$203mil). The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has is at CA$221 million.

Here’s an ABC mp3 audio of Tony Wheeler explaining the deal (and the decision to keep publishing a Burma/Myanmar guidebook), in which he uses the phrase “sell out.”

The BBC and Lonely Planet are both reporting that the Wheelers will retain a 25% share of Lonely Planet and seats on the company’s board. As of Oct. 1, Lonely Planet is still hiring in Melbourne and London, from an Executive Assistant to the CFO to a Business Development Manager for Lonely Planet Images.

Here’s a link to a recent Q&A with Tony and Maureen Wheeler, with the Travel editors at our sister publication, the Chicago Tribune. As of the time of the sale announcement, here’s what the BBC had to say about Lonely Planet:

“BBC recommends: Lonely Planet

Select your destination and find indispensable, money-saving local information, including practical details like whether it’s acceptable to haggle.”

Here’s what Lonely Planet had to say about the BBC:

“BBC World Service - 648AM: Internationally known for its news coverage; also current affairs from around the world with a British accent.”

Finally, here’s what user ‘odecar10,’ a self-described “Economic migrant to the UK from the Emerald isle in the bad old days of the 1980’s and still there” had to say, on Lonely Planet’s Thorntree bulletin board:

“Unfortunately its true. LP now owned by the propoganda [sic] arm of the British Government.”

Watch this space for updates on how these developments might affect the guidebook and “independent” travel publisher’s future publishing, multimedia and broadcasting plans.

Does this move bode well for LP, its vibrant online community and tradition of ‘independent’ travel advice? Chime in below in the Comments section.

LA Times Link

| edit post