Bodybuilder Bill Phillips (Body for Life) and trainer Jorge Cruise (Eight Minutes in the Morning) may not have to cede their domination of the sports training category any time soon. But a hitherto unknown Frenchman, Frédéric Delavier, former editor-in-chief of the French magazine PowerMag, has also become a sports section staple by steadily racking up sales for a 124-page guide to Strength Training Anatomy, published in the U.S. in August 2001. Sales of more than 73,000 copies and a recent sixth printing for 25,000 more bring the total in print to just above 100,000. That makes Strength Training Anatomy not only the bestselling book of 2001 for Champaign, Ill.—based Human Kinetics, but also the fastest-selling title in the 17-year history of its trade division.
According to publicity manager Aisha Ansari, "It's really a word-of-mouth book. There was no author tour. We didn't do anything for it outside of what we do for any other book." The company sent out press releases and review copies, advertised in Muscular Development (circ. 125,000) and Muscle Mag (circ. 250,000), and featured Strength Training Anatomy in its consumer fitness catalogue. Then, in January, five months after the book came out, Human Kinetics arranged for several tabletop and endcap fitness promotions at Barnes & Noble, Waldenbooks and Books-A-Million, together with the second edition of Susan M. Kleiner and Maggie Greenwood-Robinson's Power Eating.
First published in France by Editions Vigot in 1998, Strength Training Anatomy has been translated into German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Dutch. Part of what makes it such an unusual training book with an international appeal is its full-color anatomical drawings of the muscles used in more than 100 exercises. The drawings are all done by Delavier, who, in addition to being a journalist, studied at Paris's Ecole des Beaux-Arts to be a medical illustrator. He is also a power lifter and won the French power-lifting title in 1988.
Although some might find the drawings slightly exaggerated, they are accurate enough for the book to be stocked at one of the leading medical wholesalers, J.A. Majors Company, and at some medical bookstores, including the NYU Health Sciences Bookstore, where it is shelved under physical therapy. But it is the general audience that is really driving sales for Strength Training Anatomy.
Kay Marcotte, book buyer at Page One Bookstore in Albuquerque, N.Mex., told PW, "We have done well with it, classifying it as a sports training book. It's the big names that usually do well in this category, but this has sold steadily since last September. We order it a few at a time." The Boulder Book Store in Boulder, Colo., had a similar experience. Though the store doesn't stock many Human Kinetics titles, according to promotions assistant Amy Farnbach, "the ones we do carry sell reliably for us. There are so many people in Boulder that do body work. Strength Training Anatomy is definitely a book that we try to keep on hand."
For Ted Miller, v-p and trade division director at Human Kinetics, the book has been just one success story in what has been a very strong year. Sales for the fiscal year that ended April 30 increased 20%, even though the company published slightly fewer than its target of 50 to 60 titles a year. "Our trade income in the past decade has increased fourfold. This past year, we did $8.1 million in the trade," said Miller. "We're the leading revenue-producing division of the company," which also has several academic divisions, he added.
In the past, Human Kinetics has relied heavily on direct marketing, including Internet bookselling, but has recently shifted its marketing focus to retail bookstores. Miller estimates that bookstores account for 75%—80% of the sales for Strength Training Anatomy. To maintain the book's momentum, some tabletop displays are planned for Barnes & Noble, Walden and Borders later this month. A new book by Delavier focusing specifically on Women's Strength Training Anatomy is slated for release early next year.
Correction: Michael Morris, author of the July/August Book Sense 76 pick A Place Called Wiregrass (Book News, June 10), does not have a contract with RiverOak Publishing for his second novel. Rights are currently available from Chris Ferebee at Yates and Yates in Orange, Calif.