WHS Travel stores to sell Penguin guides exclusively

<p>Penguin is believed to have signed an exclusive deal with W H Smith Travel to be the sole supplier of foreign travel guides in its airports, motorway, railway and hospital shops. Sources have told <em>The Bookseller</em> that the deal will begin next week and last for 12 months. The contract will mean that Penguin&#39;s travel imprints, including DK and Rough Guides, will be the only foreign travel guides on offer at the approximately 450 WHS Travel stores in the UK.</p><p>Lonely Planet c.e.o., Stephen Palmer, said: &quot;I feel a bit disappointed and it was a bit of a shock when we were told [by WHS]. It will have an impact on the business.&quot; He urged the retailer to reconsider. Other rivals said they were aware of the deal, but did not wish to talk openly about the implications.</p><p>It is believed that the terms of the deal included a 72% discount with added cash upfront. This move could see travel guides such as Lonely Planet, Time Out and Berlitz missing out on trade at airports as WHS signed an exclusive deal with BAA earlier this year to service its seven UK airports. DK and Rough Guides declined to comment.</p><p>A spokesperson from W H Smith said that trials had indicated that the move would make travel guide shopping &quot;easier for the customer&quot;, as travel customers are &quot;extremely time pressed&quot;. The recent trials &quot;had extremely positive feedback&quot;. They added that the deal would start &quot;shortly&quot;. Sources told <em>The Bookseller</em> that books from other publishers were being delivered to WHS up until last week, with negotiations about returns ongoing. </p><p>Stanfords travel bookshop general manager, Andrew Steed, said the deal restricted consumer choice. He added: &quot;I don&#39;t see this as a positive method at all. I think it&#39;s quite a defensive method by Penguin getting involved in this. It&#39;s a reaction to a hard year. They are buying a means to a market by agreeing these terms. Once this starts to happen and if it is perceived to be working then W H Smith would want this to happen to everyone and that would be a pretty significant move for the industry.&quot;</p><p>When comparing the genre bestsellers, UK and international travel guides are level pegging in terms of volume. However, in value terms international travel guides are worth around one-third more. According to Nielsen BookScan figures, in 2008 travel sales fell 8.7% in value year-on-year.</p><p>Penguin&#39;s overall market share during the first 16 weeks of 2009 fell to 9.1%, down from 9.7% over the comparative period in 2008. Penguin&#39;s share of the entire travel market last year was 18% (9.8% DK and 8% Rough Guides). Over the 16 week period, DK sales dropped 16.5%, with Rough Guides reporting a drop of 30%. DK published 27 of the top 100 international travel guides last year, with Lonely Planet publishing 23 and Rough Guides publishing 17.<br /></p>