WWE (formerly World Wrestling Entertainment) offers programming that reaches 600 million homes worldwide, including a U.S. television audience of 12 million per week, according to WWE. Along with 7,500 hours of TV per year, pay-per-view events, digital content, and consumer products from 130 licensees, WWE oversees a publishing program encompassing biographies, children’s books, comic books, fitness guides, fiction, photo journals, and historical anthologies.
“Publishing is a very important piece of our consumer products business,” says Casey Collins, executive v-p of consumer products. “It’s a way to engage our fans of all ages, and it’s an avenue to reach our young audience. It helps parents realize that we’re a family-friendly brand.” Twenty-three WWE books, almost half its total output since it began its publishing program in 1999, have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list.
Some of its key partners include Simon & Schuster, which has published 26 biographies of WWE Superstars, Divas, and Legends; Penguin, for picture books; and DK, for titles including a WWE encyclopedia—a second edition is coming out in November—and an anti-bullying book, A Most Mizerable Christmas by wrestler Mick Foley.
WWE has published eight books so far in 2012, with one more scheduled by year-end; 12 were released in 2011. Children’s formats, mostly for boys 6–12, are a current focus, and even books targeting teens are family-friendly.
Books are often integrated into the WWE’s multi-partner marketing initiatives. Penguin is advertising its latest children’s books on the back panel of the videogame guide from interactive game publisher THQ, while DK’s new encyclopedia is featured in a two-sided insert in a fourth-quarter WWE DVD.
In addition, DK’s Mick Foley title will be part of two WWE social initiatives, the anti-bullying Be a Star campaign and the WrestleMania Reading Challenge. WWE and its wrestlers have more than 100 million followers on social media, according to Collins, providing another promotional platform. Going forward, WWE plans to expand into e-books in 2013.