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Human Kinetics Ends Century on High Note
Jim Milliot -- 1/31/00

Human Kinetics describes itself as "the information leader in physical activity." The publisher, which has about 240 employees and is based in Champaign, Ill., produces consumer books on sports and fitness, textbooks covering all the disciplines of kinesiology and professional reference materials for physical educators, athletic trainers and professionals working in the fields of fitness and sports medicine. The company also develops software, videos, journals and distance-education courses.

Founded in 1974 by Rainer Martens, a sports psychology professor at the University of Illinois, Human Kinetics just concluded its 25th year in business with sales of more than $20 million. "We've been growing at about an annual rate of 5%-15% for a number of years," said Ted Willis, v-p and director of the trade division. During the past year, the company published 110 books and 20 journals and produced 24 videos, 14 distance-education courses and six software products. Miller anticipates that HK will release about the same number of books in 2000. "We're targeting bigger books, books that we consider to be the definitive title on a specific subject," Miller told PW.

One such title is the just released The Baseball Coaching Bible that had a first printing of 12,000, but for which HK has high hopes. "As primarily a backlist publisher, we tend to keep our first printings down," Miller explained, noting that the trade division has a backlist of about 260 titles. The company's all-time bestseller is Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, which is now in a second edition with 300,000 copies in print.

The trade division is the second largest group, following the scientific, technical and medical division. The STM division, which targets the professional market, along with the health, physical education, recreation and dance division--which publishes for the K-12 market--all make up HK's academic group. The trade and academic groups both use their own sales force, and the company also sells directly off its Web site. Miller noted that HK has set up its own associates program to link to related sites. "There are a lot of baseball sites out there whose visitors are potential customers," Miller observed. In addition to using the Internet to boost sales of its print products, HK is developing an increasing number of courses for its distance-education program, an area in which the company is projecting strong growth over the next few years.

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