Led by sales of the 12th edition of Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, which sold 900,000 copies, and Trading Spaces: Behind the Scenes, which sold 720,000, Meredith Corp.'s book group had "a great year," according to v-p and general manager Doug Guendel. All categories but gardening had double-digit sales gains in the year, Guendel said, while sales through the company's traditional and nontraditional channels all had solid increases. "It was a balanced year," Guendel said.

Guendel said that even excluding sales of the New Cook Book, cookbook sales were still up by better than 10%. "We jumped on some trends," Guendel explained, pointing in particular to the growth in slow cooking that helped Meredith's slow cooking cookbook sell 250,000 copies.

While keeping its focus on its Better Homes and Gardens franchise, Guendel said Meredith will continue to follow the hot trends—a low carbohydrate cookbook is set for this year—and will continue to up the number of licensed books it publishes. Meredith has already received orders of 300,000 each for the next two books in the Trading Places series, Make It Yours and Color; both titles are shipping now. In the fall, Meredith will release the first title in its four-book deal with the cable network Home & Garden Television, Before and After Decorating, and the first title in a licensing deal with the Food Network, The Food Network Cookbook, will also be published later this year. Meredith plans to publish about 80 books this year, up from 60 released in fiscal '03.

"We're well positioned for the next fiscal year," Guendel said, noting that sales in July were "fabulous."