Presented with the opportunity to republish George Plimpton’s classic sports titles, Little, Brown executive editor John Parsley and deputy publisher Craig Young jumped at the chance. “It was a no brainer,” Parsley said of the decision to acquire the rights to seven titles from the Plimpton estate. Plimpton, whose credits include being the first editor-in-chief of the Paris Review and a pioneer of so-called participatory journalism, died in 2003.
Parsley and Young were excited not only about repackaging Plimpton’s work in print, but also releasing the seven titles in other formats—only Plimpton’s best-known book, Paper Lion (first released in 1965), had appeared as an audiobook, and none of the titles were released as e-books. Parsley said many sports fans have an “enduring connection” to Plimpton’s work and would be interested in getting a fresh look at his books, especially in new formats. LB published all seven titles on April 26, simultaneously releasing them in print, audio, and e-book. Four titles, Paper Lion, Open Net, Shadow Box, and Out of My League, have also been released as enhanced e-books. The enhanced e-book editions, which are priced at $12.99, will feature bonus content drawn from such sources as some of Plimpton’s old notebooks, Parsley said.
In addition to redesigned covers, the republished hardcovers ($20) feature new forewords by prominent writers and sports fans. Author and writer Nicholas Dawidoff, for example, wrote the foreword for Paper Lion, and sports television journalist Bob Costas wrote the foreword to One for the Record.
The explosion of sports media outlets since Plimpton’s books were first released was another attractive reason for reissuing the titles, Young said, and LB is using the authors of the forewords to help promote the books. Among the promotions already completed are an appearance by Costas on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, an interview with Dawidoff on Sirius Radio’s The Bleacher Report, and an excerpt from Paper Lion that ran on Deadspin the day the titles were released.
Parsley is confident Plimpton’s style of journalism will appeal to younger sports fans who may never have read him before, as well as older fans looking to get reacquainted with the writer.