After 17 years of publishing academic and professional books and journals, Idea Group Inc., a privately held company in Hershey, Pa., is expanding its market to include the trade.

Starting in March, IGI will kick off its CyberTech Publishing trade imprint with four titles in its new Advice from Experts series. Among the first releases is E-Commerce Security, by company president and publisher Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, who chaired the information systems department at Pennsylvania State University for over a decade. According to Joe Phillips, computer specialist for Independent Publishers Group, which represents the imprint to the trade, "reaction's been pretty good to the books so far."

For Khosrow-Pour, who emphasizes that "for our size, we're still a small fish in the pond," the addition of both a trade imprint and an academic reference line, Idea Group References, which will release 12 encyclopedias between fall 2004 and spring 2005, is a natural one.

"When I started this business, someone told me it takes five years before you're recognized. I'd say it takes 10 to 15, if the market is domestic and international, and that's what we're going through," he told PW. "We're scheduling four to 10 new CyberTech titles in the next two years. I'm confident these will grow." At the same time, IGI's academic business, which includes Idea Group Publishing and IRM Press, the book division of the Information Resources Management Association, has been expanding as well. With a backlist of 227 titles, IGI will more than double its publishing program, from 55 new books in 2002 to 120 titles in 2004, excluding encyclopedias; journals will also increase dramatically, from 10 to 25 by the end of 2005.

In addition to providing new opportunities for expansion while enabling the company to use existing resources, CyberTech was also formed, according to Khosrow-Pour, in response to pressure from authors, agents and bookstores for accessible titles on the managerial side of IT. Most of IGI's academic titles are published in both e-book format and print, and Khosrow-Pour anticipates that "we will make 50% of our income through electronic format within the next five years," but he has no such expectations for CyberTech. "The trade market," he says, "is still 10 or 15 years behind."