The cable sports network ESPN is expanding ESPN Books, a book publishing co-venture with its sister company Hyperion Books, making the imprint into a stand-alone unit reporting to ESPN Enterprises, the division that manages the sports network's business projects.

ESPN executive v-p John Skipper said that ESPN Books will now publish 10 to 15 new books a year, beginning in September with ESPN 25, a look at the network's first 25 years. The imprint will publish a book about NBA rookie superstar LeBron James in April 2005.

Skipper said the success of past ESPN Books titles "shows that sports fans welcome ESPN's outstanding sports coverage in books." Skipper also praised Hyperion's "tremendous editorial and marketing assets."

Chris Raymond, a founding editor of ESPN the Magazine and a former senior editor at GQ magazine, has been named editor of ESPN Books. Sandy DeShong, previously with Scholastic and the NBA, has been named publishing director. Hyperion executive editor Gretchen Young, who has provided editorial direction at ESPN Books for the past six years, will continue to work with the imprint as a consultant.

ESPN Books was originally a joint venture in which Hyperion provided distribution and editorial guidance to ESPN's writers and broadcast personalities. The imprint has published such titles as SportsCentury and The ESPN Almanac.

In another deal, Hyperion has entered into a publishing, sales and distribution partnership with Jann Wenner, owner of Rolling Stone magazine, and his recently launched book publishing unit, Wenner Books.

Plans to launch Wenner Books were announced last December. Robert Wallace, previously editor at Men's Journal and a former executive editor at Rolling Stone, was named editor-in-chief of Wenner Books.

The new imprint will publish 10 books next year, primarily nonfiction, Wenner said, in music, politics, culture, style, adventure and biography.