At a time when publishers, like almost everyone, are concerned about an uncertain economy, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is happy to point out a silver lining in the sports-book marketplace. Along with the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Book Club, we have two book publishing programs, one in cooperation with Time Inc.'s wholly owned subsidiary, Little, Brown & Co., the other with J. B. Lippincott. Little, Brown publishes diverse volumes in the sports field, adding eight to 10 new titles a year. Lippincott publishes SI's "How To" books, compact instructional designed to turn spectators into participants and to serve as refresher courses for the expert. Through 1974 the How To books, numbering 24 titles, had sold more than 2 million copies. The top seller, says Tom Ettinger, manager of SI books, was Bill Talbert's How Toon tennis. "In the old days," Ettinger says, "football or baseball or hockey would have led the parade. Now, participant sports are surging ahead." Future How To's will deal with handball, judo, quarterbacking, pitching, bowling, cross-country skiing—you name it.
Each of the trade publishers works closely with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED to develop new books. Sometimes they need look no farther than the magazine itself. At least three of Little, Brown's recent titles originated in these pages. John Underwood, who has been following Coach Paul (Bear) Bryant and his Alabama football team for years, has now put it all together in Bear. It will be published in January and is being advance ordered by booksellers in Bryant's home country in the southeast like hominy grits. Orders have been so heavy that Little, Brown has gone back to the presses for a second and third printing, which is most unusual for a book that is not even out yet.
Roy Blount's About Three Bricks Shy of a Load, an account of his six-month live-in with the Pittsburgh Steelers, is selling at a brisk rate, too. Blount is pleased, of course, but says that one of the things he liked best about the assignment was that it let him fulfill a longtime ambition: "I slept from nine to five every day and then wrote all night."
" Bobby Orr: My Game, by Mark Mulvoy, also promises to do very well," Ettinger says. "The book is resplendent with a type of photography never attempted before in books." Using two tons of strobe equipment, Photographer Heinz Kluetmeier lay flat on the ice to capture Orr skating furiously toward him. While Bobby's blades sometimes missed Kluetmeier's head by inches, Heinz got the exciting photographs he wanted.
"Still, the best excitement for us," says Little, Brown's Charles Everitt, "is the acquisition of a good book: Underwood's, Blount's, Mulvoy's, Roger Lovin's The Complete Motorcycle Nomad, Ezra Bowen's Henry and Other Heroes." He smiled. "Or the books we'll be putting out next year."