October is shaping up to be a big month for National Geographic as the company ships two big books. Out this week is In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits, while later this month the company will ship the eighth edition of its flagship book, National Geographic Atlas of the World. The two books "represent the hallmarks of National Geographic, showing our strengths in photography and cartography," said Nina Hoffman, president of National Geographic Books.

In Focus is a sequel to last year's bestseller Through the Lens: National Geographic Greatest Photographs, which has sold about 330,000 English-language copies worldwide. Hoffman thinks In Focus will surpass sales of Lens, and the book has a worldwide English-language printing of 245,000 with nearly 120,000 copies targeted for the U.S. National Geographic is following the same publishing model for In Focus it did for Lens—lots of copublishing partners, which permits the company to sell the 504-page book for $30.

National Geographic Atlas has a steeper price of $165 (up from $150 for the seventh edition), but also has an impressive first printing of 175,000, a total that Hoffman estimates will last about two years. The new edition is the first to have a companion Web site that will be available only to purchasers of the book until October 2005. The site will feature map updates and links to National Geographic's other online resources, which will let users customize the atlas as well as keep it up to date, said Hoffman.

Observing that "size matters" when it comes to atlases, Hoffman noted that the new atlas is 416 pages and weighs in at seven pounds. Although National Geographic sells some copies to libraries and other institutions, approximately 90% of the atlas's sales are to consumers, Hoffman said. The title does particularly well at online booksellers, which Hoffman suspects is due to the customer's ability to have the book shipped home rather than carrying it home from the store.