Despite the current tough market for illustrated books, HarperCollins is ramping up Harper Design International, an illustrated book program originally launched under Hearst Books and acquired along with the Hearst Book properties by HarperCollins in 1999.

Harper Design International (formerly called HBI) specializes in affordable, high-quality visual books on architecture, interior design, graphic design and lifestyle. The program was launched under Hearst to produce visual books for the international market and its titles were available in the U.S. market only through licensing deals and other distributors.

Jane Friedman, president and CEO of HarperCollins, noted the "ongoing growth and success of the program. The time was right to extend HDI's reach into the American market." She said that Harper's worldwide reach and a strong list would allow the program to offer the books at reasonable prices. "While others in the U.S. are stepping back from the illustrated book market," said Friedman, "we see this as a tremendous opportunity."

HDI will publish about 75 books a year, beginning in January 2003. The list will include The Big Book of Color in Design, Minimalism and Color and More Spectacular Pools. The program will also emphasize affordability with its Good Ideas series, 300-page, full-color hardcover books on home design and repair priced at $24.95.

The revamped program will be directed by Roland Algrant, publisher of HDI and senior v-p, HarperCollins International, who started the program under Hearst and continues to direct it. Harriet Pierce, formerly v-p of marketing and associate publisher at Watson-Guptill Publications, has been named director of sales and marketing in the U.S. and will report to Algrant. Pierce will oversee HDI sales to the U.S. trade, the first time HDI's books have been offered to the trade by commissioned sales reps.