Hitting to All Fields
Dermot McEvoy -- 3/20/00
Sports publishing brings its game to new categories and new markets
When PW first began monitoring the sports publishing scene a decade ago,it was all very rudi-mental--there were books on baseball, football, basketball and hockey. In recent years PW has watched as the publishing industry reacted to the marketplace and began to publish heavily in the areas of golf, fishing, NASCAR and women's sports. With the retirement of Michael Jordan, basketball books took a hit and, despite the efforts of many sports editors, a bestselling hockey book has yet to find the net.
|Modern her s and classic legends|
are at the heart of baseball's appeal.
Sports publishing has shown that it is constantly evolving in order to keep pace with the changing enthusiasm of the fans. This season, what is evident is an evolution into hybrid forms, with titles that are as much business--or inspiration or reference or biography--as they are sports.
"There is a way in which sports has shaped so much of the way we understand American life," says Jeff Neuman, v-p and director of sports books at Simon & Schuster. "What is USA Today but a sports-section-like treatment of news? How are presidential elections covered? Are they covered on the basis of the candidates' beliefs on how their proposals will affect the nation? No. They're covered on the basis of who's winning and what were the strategies and tactics. If that's not sports coverage, I don't know what is. So I think the ways in which sports books are reaching out to deal with other categories reflect the ways that sports has influenced American life, in so many different areas across the board.
Yes, there's a real wrestling match going on for the consumer dollar, and guess what "entertainment" has pushed itself into superstar status in the sports publishing industry?
What Hath Vince McMahon Wrought?
First, it's important to get your wrestling acronyms right. The current mania for wrestling was started by Vince McMahon with his invention of the WWF (World Wrestling Federation). The competitors are the WCW (World Championship Wrestling), which is owned by Ted Turner and Time Warner Inc., and the ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling), which is owned by Paul Heyman. And it's wise to remember that McMahon recently begat the XFL, a new off-season football league kicking-off in 2001, where it wouldn't be surprising if the referee were tied to the goalpost and burned at the stake by the X-cited players. Look for a publishing trend here in about two years.
The success of wrestling books has had a mixed reception in sports publishing. The good news is that these books are enormously strong sellers. The bad news is that wrestling is not a sport.
"I think wrestling fits into a certain area of spectacle that owes itself to a cross between gladiatorial combat and the grand tradition of theater," opines Neuman. "Nonetheless, these books are doing much better than any of the other kinds of books you're talking about. My hat's off to the people who knew this was going to happen and got in on it."
"First," says Rick Wolff, executive editor, sports and business titles, at Warner, "let's be careful about labeling professional wrestling as a sport. As everybody knows, wrestling is merely scripted entertainment--it is not sport. If I had my way, I wouldn't stock wrestling books in a bookstore's sports section."
Neuman adds: "The one area where right now they're publishing the classic here's-what's-going-in-the-sport-told-by-the-big-name-athlete--and those books are working like mad--is wrestling."
Sport or not, the figures cannot be ignored. The bestseller lists hold the evidence. ReganBooks has its dynamic, dominating duo: The Rock Says: The Most Electrifying Man in Sports-Entertainment by The Rock, which was published in January and boasts 600,000 copies in print; and Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks by Mick Foley, with more than 700,000 copies in print.
Who exactly reads these books? "The readership is probably teenage boys, who traditionally haven't been thought of as a bookbuying audience," says Jennifer Suitor, publicity manager of ReganBooks. "The people that come to the signings," she adds, "range from 12-year-olds to guys who might be in their 30s." Suitor g s on to add that there is also a loyal female fan base.
That being the case, PW went in search of a wrestling expert. Meet Jesse Katz of New York City. He's 13 years old and in the fall will be entering the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. PW asked Jesse about The Rock and Mick Foley. "The Rock is a good guy," Jesse assured PW. "I like him a lot. He is the biggest star in the WWF. The only reason I didn't read [the book] was that he didn't write it himself. It was ghostwritten for him. I read Mick Foley's book. I think Mankind, Mick Foley, led a much more interesting life than The Rock because his wrestling career took place for 15 years while The Rock's was only about five."
But Jesse, don't you think it's fixed? "I think some of the storylines are definitely chore graphed," he replies. "Some of the outcomes are decided, but the wrestlers decide how it happens."
Whatever the case, wrestling has become big publishing business and the numbers being thrown around are staggering. This month, Stoddart U.S./Balmur will publish Bret "Hitman" Hart: The Best There Is, the Best There Was, the Best There Ever Will Be by Bret Hart with Perry Lefko, with a preface by "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. [Obviously, booksellers should not confuse this Bret Hart with the 19th-century American writer Bret Harte, author of the Outcasts of Poker Flat.] Stoddart/Balmur will go out with a 150,000 initial printing, easily topping the previous Stoddart record of 20,000. Why the big numbers? "At the sales conference, the salespeople recognized that we had a winner, and we were too conservative with our 35,000 initial printing," says Nelson Doucet, president of Stoddart. "It became very obvious, very quickly, that we had a very successful title on our hands. The initial reaction from the market has confirmed that. The initial 150,000 print run is just the beginning. The book appeals not only to traditional market but also to specialty markets." The decisions gets a thumbs-up from young Jesse. "The Hitman's career in the WWF was full of controversy," he says. "He's a very popular star. He was screwed out of the WWF title."
Another big title hitting the scene this August will be Undefeated, the Rena Mero Story by Rena Mero with J B. Hill, from Total Power Publishing. If the name d sn't ring a bell, Rena Mero is the erstwhile WWF wrestler formerly known as "Sable." Those not interested in wrestling but in more literary things will perhaps remember Mero from two sizzling nude pictorials in Playboy last year. But, be still your publishing heart, there will be no nudity when 100,000 copies of this coffee-table book hit the bookshops this summer. "Rena Mero is an extraordinary woman whose story will fascinate those who read this book," says co-author and president of Total Power, J B. Hill. "Her story will touch the hearts of millions, for it is more than a rags-to-riches story, more than a poverty-to-penthouse story, it's a human-interest story that proves the human spirit still lives." There will be major publicity and a book-signing tour for this tome, which will feature all-new photos of Mero.
How will it do, Jesse? "I'm not sure. It might sell pretty good. She can't use the name Sable because Sable was copyrighted by the WWF. Her downfall was her attitude."
In November, Crown will publish Bill Goldberg's I'm Next: The Strange Journey of America's Unlikely Super Hero. We have been assured by Random/Crown associate editor Pete Fornatale that Goldberg is, indeed, "a bad-ass fan favorite." Crown expects to hit the Christmas book-buying frenzy with a six-figure initial print run. Goldberg, a former NFL nose-tackle with the Falcons and Rams, is co-writing the book with his brother, Steve. The question that comes to mind with Goldberg is, how did this nice Jewish boy get involved with professional wrestling? "This is addressed in the book," says Fornatale. "One of Goldberg's most difficult decisions was having to tell his mother he was going into wrestling. She's come to be happy with his 'unusual' career decision." Fornatale g s on to say that he thinks "Bill Goldberg is fantastic. He's a very compelling, charismatic, very promotable and has a great story to tell."
ReganBooks will also be doing the autobiography of Chyna, the WWF siren. No title has been chosen yet, but Jennifer Suitor of ReganBooks expects that the promotions that have worked so well for The Rock and Mick Foley--namely publicity, signings and tying-in with the WWF and their markets--will do the trick for this title, too.
What's the verdict on this one, Jesse? "It'll probably sell pretty good, though she's not the wrestler that The Rock and Mankind are."
In this hot political season, it's hard to ignore Jesse Ventura, wrestler-turned-governor of Minnesota. Ventura's 1999 I Ain't Got Time to Bleed: Reworking the Body Politic from the Bottom Up (Villard) spent 13 weeks on the NYT list, selling more than 162,000 copies.
|Sport or entertainment? How about politics.|
If you want The Rock, Mankind and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in one volume, perhaps you should get Krause Publications' Professional Wrestling Collectibles. Krause is printing 15,000 copies for a start and will be promoting the book heavily in the sports and collectibles markets, along with some significant in-store promotions with the major chains.
Will it ever end for wrestling books?
"I don't think it will," says Fornatale. "Wrestling comes and g s in waves, but there are some figures that remain popular in the business even when the national fervor isn't there like it is now."
Perhaps Jesse Katz has the right perspective about the whole wrestling phenomena. "You can't look at wrestling with all the flaws and unrealities," says Jesse. "It's just like the movies, you have to suspend all your beliefs and enjoy it; it's just like entertainment."
The Sweet Science Fights Back
Boxing is known as the "Sweet Science." It lists its her s as John L. Sullivan, Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, J Louis and Muhammad Ali--a virtual Who's Who of American sports icons.
Yet the only similarity between boxing and wrestling--both publishing- and sports-wise--is that they are both performed in a ring. Publishing-wise, wrestling takes boxing to the mat. And although PW--for the first time--received a large influx of boxing books for this feature, the old rap remains. "Boxing books continue to be a very tough sell," says Rick Wolff of Warner. "I still think it's an uphill battle for a major book to break out."
Of course, there are always the Muhammad Ali books that sell well, like King of the World by David Remnick (now in Vintage paperback) and Muhammad Ali: The Birth of a Legend, Miami, 1961-1964 by famed Life photographer Flip Schulke with Matt Schudel (St. Martin's). But, strangely enough, because Ali books do sell, they are the exception that proves the rule.
"Ali is a separate case, a special case," insists Neuman of S&S. "Ali's one of the most important social figures in the second half of the 20th century. Boxing books do not sell, no matter how wonderfully written they are. It's always been a difficult sport to sell, and that continues to be the case. We did a book by Richard Hoffer in 1998, A Savage Business: The Comeback and Comedown of Mike Tyson that was a terrific book. It really kind of tore the faÃ§ade off of the comeback of Mike Tyson--and yet the comeback continues. And while Mike Tyson continues to sell, books on Mike Tyson don't."
One of the books trying to buck the odds this spring is The Devil and Sonny Liston by Nick Tosches. "Nick began pursuing this story because he said it was the best organized-crime story he ever found," says Michael Pietsch, v-p/editor-in-chief of Little, Brown. "It's a story about boxing and modern slavery persisting into the modern day. It's about how Liston was controlled by organized crime from when he was a teenager to the end of his life." Tosches, the respected biographer of Dean Martin and Jerry Lee Lewis, contends in his book that Liston threw both of his fights with Muhammad Ali. Little, Brown is going out with an respectable initial printing of 23,000 copies and Tosches will be doing interviews with the national media. There will also be a PW interview in April.
The perfect combination of subject and author would seem to be Jack Dempsey and renowned writer Roger Kahn. A Flame of Pure Fire: Jack Dempsey and the Roaring 20's came out last fall and, according to Walter Bode, senior editor at Harcourt, it "did well enough. Sold very steadily, though not as well as Kahn's baseball books." Bode looks for this to be a solid backlist title and is still hopeful that word of mouth will give it a boost.
Sports Publishing Inc. will be coming out in April with Ken Norton's autobiography, Going the Distance by Ken Norton with Marshall Terrill and Mike Fitzgerald, foreword by J Frazier. "It will be our first boxing book," says SPI president Peter Bannon. "We did a book on the Mike Tyson rape trial many years ago. It did just so-so. The chains have always told us that boxing books aren't the most fertile ground." SPI will print between 10,000 and 15,000 copies.
Perhaps the most unusual boxing title to be published this year is a Villard book, The Boxer's Heart by Kate Sekules, due in September. "I really didn't know anything about boxing," says Kate Niedzwiecki, assistant editor at Random House. "It was the writing that sold me on this book. The author is a tremendous writer and the story is just fantastic. More than a memoir, it is the story of a British journalist who lived in New York, took a boxing/exercise class and fell in love with boxing. She was captivated from the first punch as she learned the vocabulary, history and tradition of boxing." Niedzwiecki thinks The Boxer's Heart came along at just the right moment. "The timing is right," she insists. "Both Ali's and J Frazier's daughters are involved in boxing. I've seen so many articles and mentions of women's boxing in the media that I think the timing is good for this."
There are a couple of books this season that seem to be beating the odds--with the help of a movie. Both are about Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, the boxer falsely accused of murder. They are riding the coattails of The Hurricane, the film starring Denzel Washington. You can be sure that both houses are rooting for Washington to win the Best Actor Oscar to give new legs to the movie and their books.
First, from St. Martin's, is Lazarus and the Hurricane: The Freeing of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter by Sam Chaiton and Terry Swinton. Previously published only in Canada in 1991, this January title made the New York Times list and is currently up to 75,000 copies in print. When asked if the movie helped Lazarus and the Hurricane, J Rinaldi, St. Martin's/Dunne publicity manager, says, "I think they both helped each other. The book stands on its own, but the movie helped give it legitimacy."
Hurricane: The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter by James S. Hirsch was published by Houghton Mifflin in January and already has 115,000 copies in the marketplace and has hit several bestseller lists. Eamon Dolan, executive editor at Houghton Mifflin, originally bought the book in October 1998 before he definitely knew there would be a movie. He bought it because he "liked the story itself, largely untold, and loved the writing." Rubin Carter helped with the project and although it is an authorized biography, it was not vetted by Carter himself. Carter and author Hirsch have made publicity appearances together and Carter will be at the BEA in Chicago. PW asks Dolan if Hurricane has broken the non-sell label attached to boxing books. "This book is so much more than boxing," says Dolan. "I'm not sure how much of the story is really about boxing. Maybe the jury is still out on boxing books."
Still the Classy National Pastime
More than any other sport, baseball depends on its past to propagate its future. And that's very good news for the sports-publishing industry.
|A candid look at the Boss.|
Over the last few years, record after record has been shattered. This has not only brought more media attention to the game as the exploits of the likes of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Cal Ripken Jr. have been publicly glorified, but has also refocused the nation's eye on the game's glorious past. The ghosts of Ruth and Gehrig and Maris are easily conjured. And never before have there been such classy, finely manufactured and affordable books to celebrate the history of the game.
"A large part has to do with the revitalization of the game," says Crown associate editor Manny Barron. "The game hit its slump with the strike but then the recordbreaking '98 season got the fervor back. It became America's game again. It's reflected in the books. People are taking ownership of the game again. They love baseball again."
For pure nostalgia, it's hard to beat Dorling Kindersley's Baseball: 100 Classic Moments in the History of the Game, published in association with the National Baseball Hall of Fame, written by Joseph Wallace, Neil Hamilton and Marty Appel, with a foreword by Nolan Ryan. Sean Moore, v-p/publisher of DK, recently came over from London to "Americanize" the DK list. "One of the areas that we wanted to concentrate on was sports," says Moore. "There was a hole in our list." That hole has been solidly filled with Baseball. It's a thrill to see "The Catch" and watch the ball land in Willie Mays's glove during the 1954 World Series. Just as it's a thrill to see Hank Aaron's 715th home run or watch Yankee Stadium under construction in 1922. It's all here in 320 pages, with more than 350 color photos. DK is going out with 100,000 copies and will promote the book in conjunction with the Hall of Fame and Nolan Ryan. "We plan to get ahead of the trend in fine sports publishing," adds Moore. "DK is known for quality--beautiful nonfiction publishing. We're not in it to do a quick, cheap list."
One of the most unusual books of the spring is America's Game by Tim Kurkjian (Crown). This is literally a book you can get your hands on--to pull out the transfer agreement that sent Babe Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees, the scouting report on a young shortstop named Mickey Mantle, or tickets to the 1949 All-Star game at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. "What makes this book unique is the tactile nature of it," says Barron. "You can hold a duplication of Babe Ruth's contract or the handwritten lyric notes for "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" with the personal doodles of songwriter Jack Norworth. It's like holding history in your hands."
What makes America's Game unique is the manufacturing process. "The elements were printed in China, cut and glued," says Barron, "done literally by hand because there aren't any machines that can do this." Crown is starting out with a 35,000-copy initial print run and they will do major promotion.
Sports Publishing Inc. has a special treat this spring for the fans of the old Brooklyn Dodgers. It's Brooklyn pitcher Carl Erskine's first book, Tales from the Dodger Dugout. The beloved "Oisk" of the Boys of Summer has collected 175 stories (with about 50 photos) that draw on his experiences in Brooklyn from the late 1940s through the '50s. Erskine, who's semi-retired back home in Indiana, when asked what his biggest thrill as a big leaguer was, surprised PW by not mentioning his two no-hitters at Ebbetts Field, his 14 strikeouts in the 1953 World Series against the Yankees, his overall 122-78 won-loss record or .610 winning percentage. His biggest thrill was winning the 1955 World Series. "It was a big hurdle to get over," Erskine confided. Erskine also lamented to PW his disappointment that ex-teammate Gil Hodges just recently failed to make the Hall of Fame by vote of the Veterans' Committee. But overall, he has no complaints. "Looking back," says Erskine, "even the enemies look friendly." And the price is more than right for Tales from the Dodger Dugout--$19.55, that famous year in which the Brooklyn Dodgers won their only World Series.
Sports Publishing will also be doing other Tales from the Dugout books, on the Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs. However, the house expects its big book to be Crack of the Bat: The Louisville Slugger Story by Bob Hill, which SPI president Peter Bannon describes as "a beautiful book and our top seller in the spring."
Total Sports has the most unusual marketing scheme for a baseball book this spring. It's for the novel Havana Heat by Darryl Brock, which tells the story of Luther "Dummy" Taylor of the New York Giants, one of the early deaf-mute players in the major leagues. The company's marketing ploy is putting Havana Heat on the Internet. It is believed to be the first instance of a publisher making an entire novel available on the Internet in advance of its print publication. "Typically, readers have gone to the Web for information," says Total Sports publisher John Thorne, "and have looked to print for pleasure. But today, entertainment defines the reading experience, whatever the genre or medium. Havana Heat is a great read, and we're eager to obtain for it the widest possible audience." The first chapter went on the Internet at totalsports.net/books on February 25. Every three days thereafter, a new chapter is added to the site, culminating on April 16, when the 18th and final chapter will appear. The complete novel will remain online until April 19.
Another title on baseball that takes a different slant is Broadway Books' Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball by NBC sportscaster Bob Costas. Charlie Conrad, v-p/executive editor of Broadway, tells PW that Fair Ball is not a paean to baseball. "Costas has a very pointed argument," says Conrad. "He tells what's wrong with baseball and how to fix it. Fair Ball is not a celebration of the game. Bob is the ultimate fan and he is troubled by what he sees. He is troubled by financial disparities, that only a third of teams have a chance to compete. The essence of sports is fairness, and there's very little fairness if every year the World Series consists of the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves." Broadway is hitting the street running with Fair Ball, which has an initial printing of 150,000 copies. Costas will promote heavily on all the national media.
St. Martin's has a major book in All Roads Lead to October: Boss Steinbrenner's 25-Year Reign in the Bronx by former New York Post sportswriter Maury Allen, coming in July. "It's a great book," says St. Martin's/Thomas Dunne publicity manager J Rinaldi. "It will cheat some perceptions. Steinbrenner is not as bad a person as some people think he is, and although his stock has risen dramatically over the last four or five years, he d s come with a serious past [Steinbrenner is a convicted, albeit pardoned, felon]." St. Martin's will have an initial 25,000-copy run, with national publicity planned along with an extensive radio/Internet campaign.
Another baseball book that's getting a lot of word of mouth is The Oldest Rookie by Jim Morris, with J l Engel. Although this book won't be published until spring 2001, it is already a hot subject in the publishing industry. The Oldest Rookie is the story of Tampa Bay pitcher Jim Morris, who miraculously made it to the major leagues at the age of 35--Methuselah-like by baseball standards. PW asked Bill Phillips, senior executive editor at Little, Brown, if he could confirm printed reports that LB forked over $500,000 for this title, but Phillips slyly wouldn't comment directly, instead referring to a "nice healthy advance." Phillips went on to say, "Speaking as a middle-aged man with lots of past dreams that are now dust, it was just too ideal not to buy. To be able to come back and live out this dream and make it come true, it's more than Walter Mitty, it's a wonderfully inspiring and intriguing story. Just irresistible." Phillips expects a substantial initial printing with major promotion. Warner Books has already been lined up as the paperback reprint publisher.
Abrams has one of the great treats of the spring with The Barry Halper Collection of Baseball Memorabilia, with essays by Peter Golenbock, Yogi Berra and Ted Williams. The Collection consists of three trade paperback catalogues from Sotheby's, handsomely slipcased, from last September's memorabilia auction at the venerable auction house. All the items are featured in four-color and cover the gamut from Ty Cobb's false teeth, to Lou Gehrig's "Al Smith for President" derby, to a Play-boy first issue--featuring a nude Marilyn Monr --signed by J DiMaggio.
Although And the Crowd G s Wild: Relive the Most Celebrated Sporting Events Ever Broadcast by J Garner came out from Sourcebooks last fall, it is still going strong this spring. A coffee-table book with two CDs, this book has some of the great sports calls of all time. It's hard to pigeonhole this book into any one sports category, but since some of the great calls include Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World," "Babe Ruth "Calling His Shot" and "Ted Williams's Last Home Run," this is as much a baseball book as anything else. With over 500,000 copies in print, Sourcebooks will again be heavily promoting this title as the baseball season begins. Author J Garner has already done an astounding 400 radio shows and he's back out there on another radio tour offering more giveaways for radio listeners (the grand prize is a baseball autographed by Henry Aaron).
Last year sounded the death knell for five more major league parks, the most prominent one being Detroit's Tiger Stadium. The Sporting News Book Publishing Company will be publishing The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic by Ron Smith, illustrated by Kevin Belford. This book, in beautiful drawings and vintage photographs, captures the essence of baseball's older fields of dreams (Ebbets Field, the Polo Grounds, Wrigley Field, Fenway Park) and some of the new ones (Camden Yards and Jacobs Field).
Looking for Her s
Used to be the sports pages were a refuge from real life, with pictures of athletes in action. That has all changed. The picture of the sports hero has been replaced by the mug shot. Over the last several months, two NFL players have been indicted on murder charges, another NFL player has had his probation revoked and is now back in a Louisiana prison, and Darryl Strawberry, in another chapter in his ongoing soap opera, has been banned from baseball for a year after failing a drug test. It seems you can't tell the felons without a scorecard. What is going on?
"I do feel that there is a sense that parents and sports fans are beginning to say, 'enough is enough,'" says Rick Wolff of Warner. "Let's stop this nonsense. You can't have guys who are making millions of dollars, who are sports her s, acting like this." Felony at this level is no stranger to Wolff. Several years ago he published Pros & Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL by Jeff Benedict and Don Yeager, a remarkable book that claimed that a whopping 21% of NFL players have been arrested on charges ranging from rape to kidnapping to homicide. "I was extraordinary proud that I was able to publish Pros & Cons," says Wolff, "because, as a parent and somebody who has been involved in sports for a long time, I'm like other sports fans who say: 'Enough already.' The book continues to sell well for us, and will continue to sell well until the NFL and the other professional sports leagues finally clean up their act regarding their players." The recent arrests seem to have given new life to Pros & Cons in mass market. Warner just went back for another 30,000 copies.
Warner has another book that takes a look at how corporations try to influence amateur sports in Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America's Youth by Dan Wetzel and Don Yaeger. "This is a very detailed look at primarily Nike and Adidas," says Wolff, "and how they work their magic to influence and corrupt America's youth by trying to seduce these great young basketball players, many of whom are as young as 12 when they start wearing their sh s, in the hopes that one of the kids might be the next Michael Jordan. Along the way you read about high school programs that have been corrupted by Nike and Adidas. How some of the AAU coaches who travel for the companies, one man in particular, was a convicted drug dealer. Even child molesters. It's unbelievable. It outrages me." Incidentally, Wolff himself has written two books that address the question of parents and their children's involvement in sports. There's Good Sports (Sagamore) and the brand new Coaching Kids for Dummies (IDG). Former major league catcher Jim Sundberg and his wife, Janet, also address these questions in How to Win at Sports Parenting: Maximizing the Sports Experience for You and Your Child (Broadway/ WaterBrook).
By the way, if you're sick of all the violent replays on ESPN, its smirking anchormen and some loudmouth yelling "He-could-go-all-the-way" for the millionth time, be sure to pick up the sizzling expose, ESPN: The Uncensored History by Michael Freeman from Taylor Publishing. Truly shocking, the author names names as he lays bare all the hijinks, sexual and otherwise, that are a staple of life in Bristol, Conn., where ESPN makes its home.
With all the bad things in sports proliferating, there seems to be a backlash, as people are beginning to search for her s. "You're looking for a story that can be inspirational," says Neuman of S&S. "I've always believed that the impulse to purchase a sports book is a fan's impulse. You want to read why there's reason to admire someone you like, rather than more dirt that's a reason to hate someone you already despise." Many of these books fall into the religious/inspirational field. "There's also the feeling," continues Neuman, "that you want to try to reach a crossover market, whether it's inspirational or Christian/inspirational. When you can do that, in some ways you're lessening the extent to which more people are being turned off by the atmosphere in sports." Gerald Howard, editorial director of Broadway Books, ech s the same themes: "The intersection of motivation and inspiration is one of the most lucrative crossroads in publishing."
There certainly isn't a lack of sports her s out there, and the latest one came to us courtesy of the last Superbowl in January. He's Kurt Warner, QB of the world champion St. Louis Rams. There was tremendous interest in Kurt Warner: My Story of Faith, Football and the Miracle Season and Harper San Francisco, in cooperation with sister imprint Zondervan, finally came out on top. "We feel that the book will appeal not to just the general audience, but also to the Christian market," says David Hirshey, executive editor at HarperCollins. Harper is planning an August pub date to coincide with the NFL pre-season and plans a six-figure initial printing, backed by major promotion and publicity.
When golfer Payne Stewart died in a plane crash last October, he was wearing a bracelet inscribed with the letters "WWJD"--What Would Jesus Do? Now Payne's widow, Tracey, with collaborator Ken Abraham, will explore the golfer's Christian faith, which he came to late in life, in Payne Stewart: The Authorized Biography, due from Broadman & Holman this June. Stewart's life will also be recounted in the Andrews & McMeel title The Payne Stewart Story by Larry Guest, and I Remember Payne Stewart: Personal Memories of Golf's Most Dapper Champion by the People Who Knew Him Best by Michael Arkush from Cumberland House.
Another inspirational story is It's Not About the Bike: My Journal Back to Life by 1999 Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins (Putnam). This May title recalls Armstrong's triumphant battle over testicular cancer. "Lance Armstrong," says Putnam v-p and senior editor Stacy Creamer, "has given hope by example through his amazing comeback from cancer and his victory in the Tour de France."
One of the saddest sports stories of the last year was the tragic loss of football legend Walter Payton to liver cancer. He died in January while awaiting a transplant. In the limited time he had left, he was able to pen his autobiography for Villard, Never Die Easy (Sept.) with Don Yeager. "Yeager was on Oprah," recalls Manny Barron of Villard/Random House, "and Payton called him up after he knew he had cancer because he wanted to tell his story about his 'teammates'--the people awaiting organ donations."
One of the members of the U.S.women's soccer team, Michelle Akers (called "the best woman that's ever played the game, period," by U.S. soccer coach Tony DiCiccio), has penned her autobiography for Zondervan, titled The Game and the Glory, with Gregg Lewis. Zondervan will promote the book with two videos, one about soccer and the other about Akers's journey to faith in Jesus Christ. Zondervan will also publish a paperback edition of The Game and the Glory geared to the youth market.
One of the really big books of the spring will be the Broadway/WaterBrook title Gateways to Happiness by Mary Lou Retton (Apr.). Believe it or not, former Olympic star Retton is, according to Ann Campbell, her editor at Broadway Books, the #3 motivational speaker in the country, behind Generals H. Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell. Retton, who is prominent in the Baptist church and has worked with the Rev. Billy Graham, believes there are seven gateways to achieve happiness in your own life and one of these gateways is faith. Campbell tells PW that although faith plays a big part in Gateways to Happiness, "the tone is not that of a Christian book; it is as nondenominational and accessible to a general readership as we could make it." Broadway/WaterBrook is planning a 100,000-copy initial print run and a 15-city national media tour, focusing on the Christian market. "People are looking for a different type of role model than they once were," says Campbell. "People respond to athletes who are not only extraordinary on the playing field, but who can connect on a different level that is applicable to their personal lives."
"I think people are tired of the misbehaving ballplayer," says senior editor Paul Golob of the Free Press. And it turns out that Golob may have the antidote. It's called Me and Hank: A Boy and His Hero, Twenty-Five Years Later by Sandy Tolan (Free Press). This is the story of nine-year-old Sandy Tolan, who wrote a letter to his hero Hank Aaron in 1973, when he learned that the great ballplayer was receiving death threats as he tried to break Babe Ruth's home-run record. Twenty-five years later, armed with his scrapbook and the old letter, Tolan went to Atlanta to meet his hero, and Me and Hank is the story of how it all came out. "It's not a biography of Hank Aaron," says Golob. "It's a journalistic exploration of what Hank Aaron meant to America. It's more than a sports book. It will touch people who know nothing about sports." The Free Press is centering its promotion around Father's Day, with a four-city publicity tour to Atlanta, Milwaukee, New York and Boston, and a 20-city radio satellite tour. There will also be signings and a 30,000-copy initial print run that should get Me and Hank off to a good start.
Total/Sports Illustrated has what it hopes will be the first in a continuing series with Real Sports Her s: Athletes Who Made a Difference by John Garrity with an introduction by Frank Deford. The audience for this title is both adults and adolescents. John Thorn of Total/Sports Illustrated makes an interesting point when he observes that "the category for young adult has kind of disappeared in that kids 12 to 16 don't want to buy YA titles. They want to read what their moms and dads are reading. This is a crossover between a category that no longer applies, YA, and the category of adult books."
Mike Towle is an author in his own right (he has two golf books, I Remember Ben Hogan and I Remember Augusta, both coming out from Cumberland House), but as the publisher of Towle House, he has a tribute to another of America's fallen her s, Tom Landry. It's called The Book of Landry: Words of Wisdom from and Testimonials to Tom Landry, Coach of America's Team by Jennifer Briggs Kaski. "It was at the printer when he passed away," says Towle. "It's not the kind of timing that you rejoice over, but we anticipate intense interest and it's still the type of book that will sell and backlist well." Towle will have a 7,500-copy print run for The Book of Landry and plans to promote heavily in the Dallas area.
Biographies That Sell
Last fall Simon & Schuster published the biography of Vince Lombardi, When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss. The book was met with glowing reviews and was until recently on both PW's and the New York Times bestseller lists. It seems that Maraniss's book has ushered in a new era of erudite biographies about great sports subjects. And if you can remember titles like Nails by Lenny Dykstra and Keyshawn Johnson's Just Give Me the Damn Ball!, the contrast is remarkable. So why the great turnaround from Dykstra to Lombardi?
"I think it's because the Dykstra-type biography didn't work," says Manny Barron of Random House. "In publishing we are constantly in a state of repair. They thought those types of books would work and they haven't. The genre is important and you have to bring it up to a classy level because most sports individuals are very classy. We're responding to the subject and marketplace."
So, what makes a great sports biography or autobiography? "It's really no different than what makes a great biography of any kind," says Neuman of S&S. "It's great subject plus terrific writer. The formula is really no simpler than that, nor more complex."
John Thorn, publisher of Total/Sports Illustrated g s Neuman one better. "The secret to biography is a great life and a great writer. If you can't get a great life and a great writer, get a great life and a great researcher for a book about someone who is dead."
Perhaps the most intriguing title of 2000 is Simon & Schuster's J DiMaggio by Richard Ben Cramer, due in October. "When J died, it opened up a lot of sources and we were able to talk to people who were unavailable when J was alive," says David Rosenthal, publisher, S&S Adult Trade. "This has made the book much richer and a better book. Sadly, J 's decline and death has become part of the book." Cramer, who won a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting in 1979, is the author of the highly acclaimed What It Takes: The Way to the White House, a 1,000-plus page mordant and cynical look at the 1988 presidential campaign. Cramer is known for his thoroughness and his ability to dig deep into his subject matter. When asked if this would be a controversial book, Rosenthal replied cryptically, "People will be amazed and surprised." If Cramer d s to DiMaggio what he did to President George Bush in What It Takes, the baseball establishment will be rocked.
Rick Wolff of Warner will be publishing sportscaster Warner Wolf's autobiography, Let's Go to the Videotape!. PW asked Wolff, Rick that is, how he acquired such a title. "I was listening to Imus in the Morning [where Warner Wolf is the morning sportscaster] and Imus said to Warner, 'Why don't you write a book?' I got to the office and three hours later I called him up and said, 'Want to do a book?' 'Sure,' he said. And that's how it happened." Imus has been known to boost book sales. Is Warner Books hoping for some of that Imus influence? "I hope Imus mentions the book every hour on the hour."
Warner will also be doing, just in time for Father's Day, Sosa: An Autobiography by Sammy Sosa and Marcos Breton. Warner is going all-out, with a 250,000-copy first printing and national publicity. Sosa will also be keynote speaker at the BEA in Chicago in June. Warner will be doing a Spanish trade edition of Sosa, too.
The daughter of NFL legendary coach George Allen, Jennifer, tells her story in Random's Fifth Quarter: Growing Up Female in the NFL, due in September. "Women readers will really identify," says Susanna Porter, senior editor at Random House. "It's a great dramatic story of her life. She has an amazing memoir about finding her identity." Random will head out with a 50,000-copy first printing and major promotion.
Yankee shortstop and major league heartthrob Derek Jeter will have two biographies this season. First up will be Beckett's Derek Jeter: A Yankee for the New Millennium, to be followed in May by Hero in Pinstripes, which Sports Publishing Inc. will publish in cooperation with the New York Daily News. Other baseball biographies of note include The Goose Is Loose by ex-Yankee relief pitcher Rich "Goose" Gossage along with Russ Pate (Ballantine), Koufax by Edward Gruver (Taylor), and Beckett's Chipper Jones: A Brave Legend in the Making,about Atlanta's young slugger.
In November S&S will publish Unguarded: My Forty Years Surviving in the NBA by Lenny Wilkens and Terry Pluto. "Lenny Wilkens," says Neuman of S&S, "came into pro basketball in 1961 in the same class as Jerry West and Oscar Robertson. One of only two people in the basketball Hall of Fame twice, as a player and coach, he is a very thoughtful and reflective man."
"The chief business of the American people is business" stridently--if somewhat redundantly--pronounced President Calvin Coolidge in 1925. Silent Cal, who was smart enough to leave Herbert Hoover holding the bag come the stock market crash of 1929, would be amazed to see what a big business sports has become and how big business has embraced the theories and practices of the successful sportsman.
PW was amazed to come across a title called Patton on Leadership: Strategic Lessons for Corporate Warfare by Alan Axelrod. It wasn't because the business book was about a military leader, but because the preface was by George Steinbrenner, the bombastic owner of the New York Yankees. Just how did the preface come about?
According to Tess Woods, a publicist for Prentice Hall Press, which published the book, when Steinbrenner was preparing for the 1998 World Series he was quoted as saying, "We're about to go to war. And I love war. I've been reading a new book called Cigars, Whiskey & Winning about Ulysses S. Grant." Not about to pass up a huge opportunity, Prentice Hall went right to the source. "We asked Mr. Steinbrenner to take a look at the new manuscript and prayed it would spark some of this same fascination that Grant's book did," says Woods. "Only this time, we'd be proactive about his enthusiasm--and eagerly asked for a foreword. A few phone calls, some interviews and plenty of red tape later--Voila!" Patton on Leadership turned out to be Prentice Hall Press's first-ever national bestseller.
But are sports-generated business books anything new? "Hardly," according to Neuman of S&S. "Pat Riley's The Winner Within was an example. Don Shula's Everyone's a Coach was another. What you're trying to figure out is how to market sports books to grown-ups. and the business book is the way to do it. One of the historical concerns for sports always has been how to bring sports out of what evolved as a juvenile market."
We asked Rick Wolff about America's fascination with sports coaches and business. "I do have my concerns, quite frankly, because it isn't a perfect correlation," says Wolff. "I understand the attraction: you're in business, you're competitive, you have adversaries, you want to stay ahead of them, you want to be quicker, faster, better, whatever you want to call it. That's the parallel to sports. And if you're a coach, you have to manage different sports personalities. If you're a manager in a business, you have to manage personalities as well. So there are certain parallels, but there are also things that don't jive at all."
Nonetheless, Wolff will have one of the bigger business/sports books of the spring: Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business and Life by Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, written with Donald T. Phillips. So, what's the trick to producing a successful business/sports book? "First of all, we hooked Mike up with Don Phillips, who is an expert and a very successful author on leadership," says Wolff. "His most famous book was Lincoln on Leadership, a classic. So you take Don's background in leadership and Coach K's background--don't forget that he's a West Point graduate and he played for Bobby Knight there--and it's all about how leaders are made, not born." Leading with the Heart will be coming out just as March Madness begins and Coach K has committed to pitching the book through media and major signings.
Boston Celtics coach Rick Pitino has a track record in the sports/business field. "We had fabulous success with his previous book, Success Is a Choice," says Gerald Howard of Broadway Books, "and it's a natural segue on leadership. He's a very big speaker on the motivational circuit, a rainmaker for the book." Success Is a Choice has 600,000 copies in print, so it's no surprise that Broadway will jump-start Pitino's new title, Lead to Succeed: 10 Traits of Great Leadership in Business and Life with a high five-figure initial printing. Broadway will arrange a TV/radio satellite tour and Pitino will be promoting as he travels around the league with the Celtics.
Another business-oriented sports book that did extraordinarily well was J Torre's Ground Rules for Winners: 12 Keys to Managing Team Players, Tough Bosses, Setbacks and Success, written with Henry Dreher. According to Gretchen Young, senior editor at Hyperion, this title netted 75,000 copies in hardcover. Hyperion will reprint it in trade paperback in September, just in time for the World Series.
Golfing All the Way to the Bank
"Their love lies in their purses." That's a quote from Barricade Books new trade paperback Shakespeare on Golf by David Goodnough. It seems the Bard of Avon may have been specifically referring to golf publishers, because there is no more profitable area of sports publishing than golf. What's the reason for all the success?
|Fantasy titles for those who can only dream|
of walking the world's greatest links.
"It's the same reason that it's always been with golf," confides Neuman of S&S. "The demographics of golf could not skew better with the demographics of bookbuyers. Golfers are older, more well-off. You figure that golf books are the perfect gift for men on Father's Day and Christmas. Also, the books that feature the great golf courses are a type of fantasy book, because most people are not going to ever get to walk those fairways--most of them are private clubs. This is a way of seeing and putting yourself into the book. They're really 'wish' books for golfers."
"Golf Digest magazine receives 100,000 new subscriptions each month," says John Dunigan, of Golf Better Productions, "yet the average golf score has not improved in nearly 30 years." Dunigan plans to do something about that with his Essential Golf: Everything You Need to Know and How to Learn It!, but he also reminds us out how rapidly golf as a sport, as a way of life, is growing in the U.S., and how publishers are being forced meet a huge demand for a myriad of golf books, from instruction to coffee-table deluxe to anecdotal biography.
Brian Lewis of Sleeping Bear Press d s only one kind of sports book--golf. But he d s every kind of golf book, from coffee-table to fiction. "We are lucky," says Lewis, "because our group at Sleeping Bear are keen golfers. We love the game, and that helps us to do books that are of a very high quality both in content and production. You can't just rush out golf books because it is a 'hot' market. That might work short term, but not long term."
Lewis's big book for the spring, however, is a novel, The Greatest Player Who Never Lived by Jay Michael Veron. "This book is incredible," says Lewis. "The Miami Herald has compared it to To Kill a Mockingbird and the Seattle Post called it 'dual parts John Grisham and John Feistein.' We have never seen a response like this one. It will cross over well beyond golf." Sleeping Bear is printing 80,000 copies on its first run and has already ordered paper for another 50,000.
Warner Books also has a golf novel, albeit one with a wacky construction. The Putt at the End of the World is written by many hands, including humorist Dave Barry and NBA-winning novelist Tim O'Brien. The secret to this novel, according to editor Rob McMahon at Warner, is that each author of each chapter has seen only the previous chapter before he makes his contribution. It's almost a form of writing in the dark; it was a formula that was first used with great success back in the '60s with Naked Came the Stranger and more recently with Naked Came the Manatee by Carl Hiaasen et al., and the Dermot Bolger notion, Finbar's Hotel.
Instruction is also an important area of sports publishing. "According to the National Golf Foundation," says Charlie King of UnCommon Golf, "we have almost as many golfers quitting the game as we have taking it up. In 1998 a little more than three million people took up the game and that same year three million people quit." King is trying to remedy that with You're NOT Lifting Your Head.
Instruction books are also paramount for the Sleeping Bear list. Fundamentals of Hogan by David Leadbetters has a special history. "Hogan wrote the best golf instruction book ever published, Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf," says Lewis. "To date it has sold over five million copies. David Leadbetter has written the best modern-day golf instruction book, The Golf Swing, with over 1.5 million copies sold. We found the 'lost instructional photographs' of Ben Hogan from 1955 and David has used them as the foundation of this book."
Ben Hogan, it seems, has become an industry unto himself. PW counts no less than four books on Hogan for 2000: there's the aforementioned Fundamentals of Hogan; S&S's As Hogan Said... by Ben Hogan himself; I Remember Ben Hogan by Mike Towle (Cumberland House); and The Hogan Way: How to Apply Ben Hogan's Exceptional Swing and Shotmaking Genius to Your Own Game by John Andrisani (HarperResource).
St. Martin's/Dunne this spring has Caddie Sense: Revelations of a PGA Tour Caddie on Playing Golf by Michael Carrick and Steve Duno, foreword by Tom Kite. "A combination of what it's like to be a professional caddy, and how you get into it," says Peter J.Wolverton, associate publisher at at St. Martin's/Thomas Dunne. Also in the anecdotal mode is Sleeping Bear's Speak Wright: The Literature Language of Golf by the controversial Ben Wright, who was fired by CBS Sports because of his comments about lesbians on the LPGA tour. This is the follow-up to Good Bounces & Bad Lies, which, according to Brian Lewis, sold more than 45,000 copies. "It has been incredible," says Lewis. "Ben's background as a journalist, a wordsmith and an entertainer has made him extremely popular. He even heard from the LPGA saying they have no problem with him coming back to broadcasting. It has been a great year for Ben, and Good Bounces & Bad Lies has been a big part of that."
Another subgenre of the game being addressed by publishers is women's golf. St. Martin's/Dunne has already come out with The Women's Guide to Golf: A Handbook for Beginners by Kellie Stenzel Garvin. "Not only d s it go through the fundamentals of golf," says Wolverton, "but it also tackles issues from pregnancy to fingernail length. Kellie's position has always been that this is the book that her students have always asked her to write. It is not written to take you through the physics of the golf swing; it is geared to women who have just picked up the game."
Other titles geared to the woman golfer include Human Kinetics' LPGA's Guide to Every Shot , edited by the LPGA; Andrews McMeel's You Go Girl! Winning the Woman's Way by Charlie Jones (the veteran sports announcer) and Kim Doren; and Crown's The Golf Handbook for Women by Vivien Saunders. NTC Contemporary has In the Women's Clubhouse: The Greatest Women Golfer's in Their Own Words, edited by Terri Leonard, and Burford Books has The Women's Game: Great Champions in Women's Sports, an anthology edited by Dick Wimmer.
Another area of immense profit in sports publishing is the golf coffee-table book. Sleeping Bear has two big ones this year, St. Andrews & The Open Championship: The Official History by David Joy, with photographs by Iain Macfarlane Lowe; and Pebble Beach Golf Links: The Official History by Neal Hotelling, with photographs by Joann Dost.
Other coffee-table golf books for 2000 include: Triumph's Considerable Passions: Golf, the Masters, and the Legacy of Bobby Jones by Catherine M. Lewis; and Power, Passion, Honor & Glory: Five Her s of Modern Golf by Gerald Sprayregen and William Hallberg, which Sports-P try in Motion describes as "a freeze-frame, photography and prose study of modern golf's most famous icons." Antique Collectors' Club has Golf Implements and Memorabilia: Eighteen Holes of Golf History by Kevin McGimpsey and David Neech. Sports Publishing Inc. offers The Scottish Golf Book by Malcolm Campbell, with photographs by Glyn Satterley, and Par Excellence: A Celebration of Virginia Golf by Jim Ducibella, with 150 color photographs by Ross D. Franklin; and NTC Contemporary will publish The British Open: A Twentieth-Century History of Golf's Greatest Championship by Francis Murray.
Is there no end to golf's prosperity? Is there some saturation point? "I think it's one of those situations where people continually think that the golf market is saturated with books and it never seems to be," offers Peter Bannon of SPI. But a note of warning was issued by Brian Lewis of Sleeping Bear : "I'm sure there is," he says. "You can't do too many and you have to pick the right topics. If you try to 'force' books they don't do well." This sentiment was ech d by Neuman of S&S: "What we have heard from the accounts is that golf books are definitely slowing and the reason for that is--at the risk of quoting Yogi Berra--'it's so crowded, nobody g s there.' "
In his wonderful memoir about Random House, At Random, Bennett Cerf tells how he was pulled yelling and screaming into reference publishing when he went about creating The Random House Dictionary after World War II. The cost overruns were going into the millions, until he was told the secret to reference publishing that only a publisher could truly understand and appreciate--no royalties! In sports publishing, there are, in some cases, royalties to pay, but it remains one of the most profitable and low-key areas of the industry.
"It's an arcane art," admits John Thorn of Total Sports. "There are very few people who know how to make books like this. So we are like the last people who know how to use a slide rule."
"People love big, heavy reference books on subjects that they like," says Tony Lyons, president and publisher of Lyons Press. Lyons's big reference book for spring is The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Billiards by Mike Shamos. "Fishing reference books that are at the top of the line have sold hundreds of thousands of copies," confides Lyons. "Billiards don't do quite as well, but I think this will sell 50,000-60,000 copies over three to four years." Why a billiards encyclopedia? "My father [company founder Nick Lyons] and I both play pool and like the sport, which is part of the reason we publish most of the books we publish. We have some kind of close connection to it and know the subject matter. Also, billiard books sell. Part of the reason is that there are not a lot of them, but we have four or five other books on the subject and they've all always done well. So that bodes well for this one, too."
As Lyons says, fishing reference books sell tremendously well and this spring there's a doozey out there. It's IDG's Ken Schultz's Fishing Encyclopedia: Worldwide Angling Guide. This hernia-inducing brick of a book has 1,936 pages, 422 illustrations of fish, 470 photos, 718 line drawings and 2000-plus entries, from abeam to Zambia. "Content is king," says Kathy Nebenhuus, publisher, IDG Consumer Reference-Lifestyle. "We have a book product and we also have excellent content for online. IDG Books is a book company and we're also an Internet company. Encyclopedic content is perfect for online adaptation."
The power of the Internet and other byproducts for reference publishing forced John Thorn of Total Sports to make an interesting and unique analogy: "I regard the reference book business as being more like a dairy than a slaughterhouse, The book business of first novels is definitely the slaughterhouse business. Maybe you'll have a subrights sale for an option on a movie or a paperback rights deal, but it's unlikely that you're going to take a novel and then make it into separate volumes chapter-by-chapter. We feel that once we have an encyclopedia not only can that cow give milk, it can also give you yogurt, cheese, skim milk, a variety of products. It's painful to develop the asset and it's costly. So you have to have patience, you have to have trust and a belief that you're doing something worthwhile."
Neuman of S&S wonders about the effects of the Web on sports reference publishing also. "Reference publishing is one of the areas that's changing the most," he says. "It is becoming increasingly difficult to publish the kind of popular sports reference books that used to do very well. I wonder if the generation that used to turn to books for popular reference now only associates reference with online and so the book is less popular."
Tony Lyons of the Lyons Press is also aware of the Internet: "I do feel that reference publishing is a dangerous thing to get into on a large scale in subjects that you don't know well. It's clear that with the rate of change on the Web, all of these kind of things are going to be available in all kinds of very strange ways." Still, Lyons plans to publish Golf Magazine's Complete Guide to Golf in October, a 600-page book that covers all of the major aspects of golf. "It's a straight textbook." It's very generic and it's meant to be a backlist book." Lyons will do an initial printing of 10,000-15,000 copies.
Bannon of Sports Publishing Inc. has been in reference publishing for a while. "We generally print 10,000-15,000 copies," he says. "They usually sell out in a year or two, then we wait another four or five years and do it again. This year we'll come out with the third edition of The Yankee Encyclopedia by Mark Gallagher and Walter LeConte. Also lined up for publication are The Red Sox Encyclopedia, second edition by Robert Redmount and the New York Mets Encyclopedia by Peter C. Bjarkman.
And St. Martin's/Griffin also has an all-encompassing baseball reference book, The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball 2000 by David Neft and Richard M. Cohen.
John Thorn of Total Sports takes great delight in admitting that "the hallmark of Total Sports Encyclopedias is mind-numbing depth. We satisfy the nerds first. Once you satisfy the nerds, then you have to find a broader audience. But if you're going to be criticized by the people who care most about the sport because of your incompleteness or inattentiveness to detail you have no prayer of succeeding on a reference basis." This year Total Sports will publish Total Hockey, second edition; Total Stanley Cup; Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedial; and Total Olympics.
Sports Publishing at the Millennium
It has overcome baseball, football and hockey strikes. It has seen Michael Jordan--and all his bestselling books--come and go. It is, breathlessly it seems, waiting for its first bestselling hockey title. Yet sports publishing continues to strive as it diversifies. It takes nothing for granted anymore and has become one of the fastest moving, alternative areas of the publishing industry.
Can anything stop this juggernaut? Sure. Another baseball strike, maybe. Perhaps a downturn in the economy. Maybe a drought that turns all the golf greens brown. But in the last decade, sports publishing has made its mark on the industry and will continue to succeed--probably finding other areas of publishing to invade on its way deeper into the new millennium.
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