Free digital Insight boosts profits

Free digital Insight boosts profits

APA Publications has invested a seven-figure sum in the development of travel publisher Insight Guides, and will transform the business into an “online marketplace” that does not charge to access its content digitally.

Insight Guides was acquired by Swiss investors APA Publications for an undisclosed sum in 2014 from its previous owners, the Langenscheidt family. Following a seven-digit investment, the business has recovered from a loss of £158,000 in 2014, according to accounts filed at Companies House, to post a profit in 2015, said c.e.o. René Frey (pictured) - although its latest accounts have not yet been filed. Insight Guides made a profit as a result of selling travel trips from local experts online and making its book content available digitally for free, Frey said.

In future, once an Insight Guides book is ready to print, the content will then be published online for free. Frey said: “We don’t believe it is right to monetise our content online. Whether or not we provide freely available content online, we are confident that people will always want to buy print editions of trustworthy travel guides because they are inspirational, good to hold, great to read and user-friendly.”

Frey told The Bookseller Daily at London Book Fair that the “disruptive” new business model would turn the company into a “completely new business in five years’ time”. He said the “controversial” move was about “customer satisfaction” and the first step in its bid to fine-tune its digital business model, Frey said, adding: “Books will have a place in the future. The challenge for publishers is to give them more value. We wouldn’t be surprised if, in a year or two, all publishers [were] giving e-books away. Publishers need a digital business model, that’s where most are struggling. They need a vision for the 21st century.”

Insight Guides has 15 staff on the digital side of the business, with plans to hire “substantially” more.