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Next chapter of ESPN book biz is bigger

Imprint expects to publish 10-12 titles a year

Sports entertainment giant ESPN on Monday expanded its book publishing business, establishing a unit that will be run by former GQ senior editor Chris Raymond.

ESPN Books, an imprint of ABC-owned Hyperion, expects to publish 10-12 titles a year, beginning with the September release of “ESPN25,” a look at the company’s first 25 years. Next April, imprint plans to release a book chronicling the rookie season of NBA star LeBron James.

In recent years, ESPN and Hyperion have published a number of titles, including the New York Times bestseller “SportsCentury,” based on the ESPN television series. The idea now is to leverage such successes and give ESPN Books its own management team and mission statement; previously, Hyperion guided nearly all business matters.

“We have tremendous editorial and marketing assets within our larger company, and we look forward to maximizing opportunities with Hyperion,” ESPN exec VP John Skipper said.

Raymond, a founding editor of ESPN the Magazine, will serve as editor of ESPN Books, while former Scholastic exec Sandy DeShong has been named publishing director.

Hyperion exec editor Gretchen Young will continue to guide ESPN Books on a consulting basis, just as the publishing house will continue to distribute all ESPN titles.

ESPN is 80% owned by ABC, while the Hearst Corp. holds a 20% interest.