Blog Post

Lonely Planet Picks U.S. Chief As Digital Sales Reach $20 Million

The BBC Worldwide majority-owned travel guide publisher Lonely Planet is appointing John Boris, SVP of marketing at Zagat Survey, as its new U.S. head, after online revenues doubled to $20 million (£12.4 million) this year, according Kara on AllThingsD.

He’ll report to former Dow Jones (NYSE: NWS) digital exec Matt Goldberg who joined in January as Lonely Planet CEO.

When the Beeb controversially bought a 75 percent stake in the business in 2007 for about £89.9 million ($142 million), the plan was to spend “tens of millions” moving the brands online, but the business still makes most of its profits from its paper guidebooks.

Still, Lonely Planet has clocked up 500,000 downloads for its 70 paid-for iPhone city guide apps (£9.49/$15.99 each) and language guides (£5.99/$9.99 each), and the new website is opening up to developers.

Goldberg says he expects digital to continue growing its share of total revenues, particularly on the U.S. side, through a mixture of iPhone apps and other initiatives. It now has 600 guides now on the Amazon Kindle store and plans to monetise its 700,000 members of the Thorn Tree travel forum and a forthcoming Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Android “augmented reality” app that gives travelers a virtual compass with points of interest.

The debate continues in the UK over the role of the profitable, money-making BBCWW and its effect on the wider media economy