ESPN Gets Book Smart

Now it’s ESPN-The Book, or should we say, Books?

The sports powerhouse is extending its empire into yet another medium, establishing a book unit. ESPN Books plans to publish 10-15 titles annually, beginning with the September bow of ESPN 25, a look at the company’s first quarter of a century through the eye of the sports highlight.

Also on tap: a book chronicling the rookie National Basketball Association campaign of hoops teenage sensation LeBron James, penned by ESPN-The Magazine’s Carl Fussman.

ESPN had previously worked with Hyperion on such books as SportsCentury and The ESPN Almanac.

Chris Raymond -- a founding editor of ESPN-The Magazine and most recently a senior editor at GQ -- has been named editor of ESPN Books, while Sandy DeShong, previously with Scholastic Inc. and the NBA, has joined the new venture as publishing director. Gretchen Young, executive editor of Hyperion, who has worked closely with the ESPN imprint over the last six years, will continue as a consultant.

ESPN Books will report into ESPN Enterprises. Hyperion -- the trade-book-publishing unit of ESPN sister company ABC Inc. -- will continue to distribute ESPN titles.