Human Kinetics, a Champaign, Ill.—based publisher of sports instructional and physical fitness books, videos and software, continues to grow and branch out in new directions. The company posted a 10% increase in revenue, to $28.2 million, for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2003. Six months into fiscal 2004, sales are up 9.2% compared to the same period last year, to $13.9 million, and executives are expecting another record year.

Human Kinetics, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2004, has eight divisions and 312 employees worldwide. Four of its eight divisions have reported strong gains in the first half of the year, including the trade division, where sales are up 18%. The trade group, which had sales of $9 million in fiscal 2003, remains HK's largest unit and released 57 books, videos and DVDs last year. Other divisions that have posted good gains are the science, technical, and medical division, with sales ahead 12.2%, and the journal division, where sales are up 20%. Sales in the health division are up 16%, which HK's CEO Brian Holding attributed to the company's success in selling its Fitnessgram educational software to public school districts in three major U.S. cities.

Holding attributes HK's steady growth to the company's focus on supplying reliable, informative material to consumers. "We are known for books that are solid. Our titles are educational, they are not 'trend of the moment' books," Holding said. Its bestselling title is Strength Training Anatomy, which has sold more than 217,000 copies over the past two years.

In addition, the company has benefited from using more media forms to deliver its products on physical activity and fitness, Holding said. "We remain committed to publishing books, but we are diversifying, adding new media to accompany the printed books," Holding told PW. "Books and new media complement one another, especially when it comes to physical education. Certain exercises are best learned by watching a DVD or a video rather than reading a book," he said.

Over the past several years, HK has steadily developed its capabilities to create and edit electronic products in-house. Besides building Web sites and producing software, the company now creates and edits videos, CD-ROMs, and DVDs at company headquarters. HK just released its first integrated book and CD-ROM package for the consumer market, Optimal Muscle Training, which retails for $27.95. Holding said the book/CD package is off to a good start, and noted that if Optimal Muscle does well HK will produce more book/CD programs.

The investment in new media is part of HK's strategy to remain among the top publishers in its niche. "There's never been a year that we haven't seen growth. We feel, after 30 years in business, that we're just tapping into our potential," Holding said.