Scholastic and the National Football League have joined forces to produce a series of books for children 7—12, with the first six titles debuting in July. "We were looking for ways to take the NFL, which is immensely popular with young people, and combine that with Scholastic's expertise to come up with titles that would resonate with youth," said Chris Russo, NFL Properties' senior v-p, new media and publishing. "Youth football is an important initiative for us, and the relationship with Scholastic will support that."

"It's all about trying to figure out the right formats," said Ellie Berger, v-p and publisher of licensed publishing at Scholastic, which has released 20 titles under license from the National Basketball Association over the last few years. The NFL formats will be similar to those for the NBA, including interactive titles that enable readers to follow the NFL season and motivational books featuring athletes. "They're photo-driven books that have the excitement of the game."

NFL distribution outlets, such as its online store, direct-mail catalogues and home shopping venues, will feature the books, and the league will provide premiums, including 1.5 million trading cards given away through retail and school channels. "They have really strong kid-centered programs that create synergies with our trade and school channels," Berger said.