One of the surprises of the computer publishing world has been the under-representation of International Business Machines Corp. Big Blue, after all, is one of the best-known name brands on the planet, as we are constantly reminded by marketing surveys. PC users are relatively well covered by other publishers, but midlevel programmers and, especially, businesspeople who use IBM systems have had precious little leadership from their equipment supplier. Now International Institute for Research BV, headquartered in Amsterdam, one of the world's largest business information research companies, with offices in 35 countries, is addressing that gap.

Midlevel Books from Insiders

For some time, IIR Publications, the publishing division of IIR, has had a computer magazine, Midrange Computing, and a book imprint, headquartered in Carlsbad, Calif., addressing questions regarding the everyday use of smaller, mid-range or mini-computers. As with most computer books, though, the titles were generalized to reach the broadest possible market, and so often didn't help managers with their most common problems in business. Now Midrange Computing is introducing a highly targeted imprint, IBM Press, providing advice straight from the horse's mouth: IBM's own technology planners.

Steve Mills, IBM's general manager, software solutions and strategy, told PW, "We're at the center of computing innovation, receiving more patents than any other company for each of the past seven years. IBM Press will harness the expertise of IBM researchers, developers and business partners and put it in the hands of professionals around the world."

According to David Uptmor, president and publisher of IIR Publications, "There are two critical aspects of IT success. First, you have to make the right decisions about which technology to use; then you have to get the most from the investment you have made. IBM Press will address both those needs by combining books and multimedia training tools with real-world software solutions to form a complete package."

Uptmor wants to differentiate his imprint from the IBM co-publishing imprint at Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference, a division of Pearson, to produce high-level programming texts for IT professionals.

"Our titles have more of an industry perspective of what's going on, and why," he points out. "The PTR titles are good technical texts for programmers, very oriented to direct sales. Our scope is broader. We have much more theory of why the technology is designed the way it is, and we're much more retail oriented."

Four for Openers

The first four titles from IBM Press indicate the dual role of the imprint: making the best use of the technology available and forming business strategies. Each book includes a CD-ROM with samples of the software discussed in the text, and is lay-flat—bound, to free readers' hands for keyboarding.

COBOL was the first business-oriented computer language, but it was aimed at mainframe users; these days, the Internet requires Java, Sun Microsystems' adaptation of the C language for writing Web programs. Java for S/390 and AS/400 COBOL Programmers ($79) by Phil Coulthard and George Farr helps traditional programmers make the leap by comparing COBOL's functions with Java's Native Interface (JNI), Java Beans, server applets and XML.

Electronic Commerce Technology Trends ($79), edited by Weidong Kou and Yelena Yesha, distills the ideas of 60 IBM analysts who examine business, legal, economic and social problems associated with formulating e-commerce policy.

The Business Case for E-business ($59), edited by Keith Rutledge, explores the underpinnings of e-commerce in terms a businessperson can use for decision-making. Rutledge says that while programmers concentrate on details of code-writing, for managers, "seeing the big picture is more important than mastering minute details." Business Case presents the views of 17 experts on open architecture, electronic payment, Web application development, JavaScript and Unified Modeling Language (UML).

The most popular title so far is The Ultimate IBM Visual Age for Java Tutorial, a three-hour CD-ROM ($69) by Java authority Bill O'Farrell that blends audio and video to teach IBM's visual programming language for Java.

Six more titles are due by the end of this year, including Practical Knowledge Management and Patterns for E-business, explorations of data warehousing, data mining and information reuse. All of IBM Press's titles are available from the publisher (800) 477-5665, or online at, as well as from Ingram and Baker & Taylor.