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Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.


HK Today

South African Distribution

 by Barry Johnson

Human Kinetics reaches our worldwide customers by selling directly through our website and our subsidiary offices in Australia, Canada, and the UK and by partnering with and selling through distributors.Our distributors in South Africa are two of our longest-serving and most successful partners.

Focusing on the consumer trade business, Real Books is operated by Helena Groeneveld. I asked Helena to explain her history with HK:

“Real Books was formed in June 1988. I have been selling books since January 1983. I was working as a biochemist in Germany in 1981, and Benjamin Trisk, the managing director of Exclusive Books at that time, asked me to join him at the Frankfurt Book Fair. As I walked through hall 8 I decided that I wanted to become a full-time book seller.

“I have enjoyed most days in books—I have certainly never been bored. The little anecdote I like is the one where I approached Brian [Holding] with great enthusiasm at the Washington Book Expo America in 1990. I, however, could not persuade him to use Real Books as South African agents. Two years later at the 1992 Las Vegas BEA, when I had laryngitis and no voice whatsoever, not only was he persuaded, but he actually approached me. Maybe I’m more convincing when I don’t open my mouth! I think Strength Training Anatomy has been our all-time best seller.”

Our distributor for higher education in South Africa is Michelle Woodrow of Academic and Professional Distributors. Michelle has provided the following to share with our authors:

“The company was started in 2000, and I met with Brian at the Frankfurt Book Fair that year. I started the business because I knew of the need for really good sports, health, and fitness books in primarily the academic and what I loosely call the professional market. South Africa is a sport-mad country.

“I was graduated with a degree in English and history from the University of Cape Town, which is where Human Kinetics author Tim Noakes is based. After university I was fortunate to land a job with the leading South African publisher of thought-provoking anti-apartheid literature, David Philip Publishers.

“I later explored educational publishing at Heinemann, but what really intrigued me was the academic arena. I worked with the McGraw-Hill titles and realized that no one was addressing the very real need to service the sport, health, and fitness arenas of academia here. It was then the late 1990s and I had my children, and I resigned from working in the corporate publishing world. Helena offered me the perfect working hours for a young mother. I was thrilled to bits when I saw the Human Kinetics list and what Helena’s business was doing with it in the trade sphere here in South Africa. So when Brian mentioned to Helena that HK was looking for someone to market and distribute Human Kinetics titles to academia, my answer, of course, was that I would be delighted to work with the list. I knew the people and I just had to let them know the titles. So Helena and I formed a business, and in 2006 I bought her out. Every year, however, she and her staff continue to invite me to their Christmas party. It is an invitation I treasure—it is wonderful to catch up with what they are doing.

“I have had so many highlights over the years. The personal service that we offer along with good-quality titles is our abiding strength. Recently I received such a lovely compliment from the HOD at the University of KwaZulu Natal, Prof. Johan van Heerden: “In the last 14 years since you started selling the Human Kinetics titles the quality of education in this field has improved so much.” At any conference or exhibition we attend we are always the honey pot around which the academics and professionals congregate. Meeting authors is always wonderful. If they know they are coming to South Africa, I would love it if they made contact before so that I can absolutely ensure I have their books on display.

“Another recent highlight was meeting Dan Gould at the International Coaching Conference in Durban last September. A couple of lecturers had just chosen to prescribe his book for the courses they are running, and they were thrilled to be able to hear him talk and to meet him. ”

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