A move into bookstores and the decision to broaden its list to appeal to a wider audience has helped boost sales at Timber Press, which had a 20% sales gain in 2003. The Portland, Ore.-based publisher's core market traditionally has been experienced gardeners and horticultural professionals, but the company has expanded its publishing program with books that are "more accessible, more visual and have more trade appeal and lower price points," explained publisher Jane Connor.

The first titles directed to the trade came out about 18 months ago, and Timber is steadily upping the number of titles aimed at that audience, Connor said. Timber reaches the trade market, which is the company's fastest-growing channel, through a combination of commissioned rep groups and an in-house sales team that calls on the national accounts. To keep the momentum going in the trade side, Timber will launch a new series of pocket guides this fall with Timber Press Pocket Guide to Ornamental Grasses. The new line will sell for $19.95, and books will have a flexi-bind format. A second title is set for next spring.

The company is augmenting the push of its gardening titles into bookstores with an expansion of its regional offerings. "We're in a solid position to become a major Northwest publisher," Connor said. The company had a regional hit last year with In Search of Ancient Oregon and plans to do three regional books in 2004. Most will be in the area of natural history, and already out are The Plant Locator: Western Region and The Lewis and Clark Columbia River Water Trail. Six regional titles are planned for 2005.

Despite its diversification efforts, Timber continues to develop titles for its core market and has a special sales team that markets to such outlets as nurseries, garden centers and plant societies. To feed its gardening line, Timber has a distribution office in the U.K. that also has an acquisition editor. As a result of the U.K. office, Timber has a strategic alliance with the Royal Horticultural Society that has yielded the RHS Plant Collector Guides series, as well as books from several well-known British gardening authors.

Connor said Timber expects sales in 2004 to increase by at least 10%, boosted in part by an increase in output from 49 to 63 titles. The company had a strong first quarter; Connor said that March was "the biggest month in the history of the company."