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OT: $25K Super Bowl Book

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  1. mikey

    mikey Rookie

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/17/sports/football/17sandomir.ready.html

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    January 17, 2006
    Sports Media and Business
    Super Bowl Excess for a Sturdy Coffee Table
    By RICHARD SANDOMIR

    It is huge, like the annual game that inspired it.

    The book - no, a piece of dense furniture masquerading as a book - takes the Super Bowl's history as seriously as a war or a religious experience.

    When completed, it will be nearly two feet long on all sides and close to six inches thick. It will weigh 85 pounds and contain nearly 2,000 images (out of two million examined) and about 500,000 words. It will cost $4,000 (for the first 19,600 copies) or $25,000 (for the 400 M.V.P. copies that will be autographed by all of the living Super Bowl most valuable players).

    Such a book was not imaginable after Super Bowl I, which did not sell out, and wasn't really called the Super Bowl. With Super Bowl version 40.0 only 19 days away, the game has become an orgiastic eruption of football, cholesterol, sexagenarian rock stars and $2.5 million, 30-second commercials - an event deserving of a book the weight of Garo Yepremian in his stocking feet.

    Now, it would seem, is the time for "XL: Forty Years of the Super Bowl," a portly book from Britain's Kraken Sports and Media of Guernsey, which will bind the book in calf leather and encase it in a white, silk-covered box.
    Such is the enthusiasm of Kraken's chief executive, Karl Fowler, a former derivatives trader for Goldman Sachs in England, that "XL" is bigger than "GOAT: A Tribute to Muhammad Ali" (Taschen), which weighed in at 75 pounds and cost $3,000 for the first 9,000 copies and $7,500 for a special group of 1,000, which came with an odd sculpture by the artist Jeff Koons.

    That book, and "XL," have been touted as the biggest ones ever published, a calculation that probably ignores certain editions of Vogue. For history's sake, Will and Ariel Durant's 11-volume "Story of Civilization" is available for $375 from Amazon.com and weighs merely 36.1 pounds. One's tastes will determine which is more edifying, Henry VIII or Henry Stram.

    "We feel, and hope, that this will be a great business," Fowler said yesterday at the N.F.L. headquarters in Manhattan, where he has a temporary office. "We've got the model right, and we've spent the better part of the year putting the creative and editorial teams together. We know there's a market if this is done right. We're getting orders even as we talk about it."

    The book will be marketed to N.F.L. Visa card holders and NFL Network viewers and will be sold at NFL.com, Kraken's Web site, and at Saks Fifth Avenue and Harrods in England.

    The book will be divided into a chapter for each game, with other sections on allied subjects. It awaits the writing and photography from the Feb. 5 game, including portraits taken in Detroit of the Super Bowl M.V.P.'s by Walter Iooss Jr. with an oversized Polaroid camera.

    The hand-stitched books will not be heaved into buyers' homes until the first week of the 2006 season.

    "XL" is part of Kraken Sports's suddenly burgeoning Opus series, which is testament to the outsized passions summoned by sports - and the prices that fans will pay to recall old glories. Similar books are soon to be published on Manchester United and Diego Maradona with others planned on Ferrari (to be opened with a key), Wimbledon, the Ryder Cup and English rugby.

    Kraken Sports grew out of a wealth management business that was begun by Fowler and his partners and includes an equity investment and advisory role in Faldo Management, the golfer Nick Faldo's company that guides the careers of young golfers. The parent company, Kraken Group, is looking to go public by mid-year by selling stock worth at least $100 million.

    Fowler declined to say what Kraken is paying to publish and produce "XL," which will be hand-stitched in Verona, Italy. He said the 950 pages planned for "XL" are the most Opus books can contain before the weight of the pages causes them to fall from their bindings.

    But even at the size and length he decided is appropriate, "XL" is a luxury item to be read as the butler turns the pages. The book is an example of the kind of excess bred by the Super Bowl.

    "For me," said Fowler, who is 35, "I just love sport. It's huge. We get caught up in the passions of sport and sometimes we forget we're producing something to stand the test of time."

    Those willing to indulge in the excess started by Pete Rozelle, published by Kraken (named for a mythic, giant squid) and licensed by the N.F.L. should know that the $25,000 editions will each have a video iPod, with Super Bowl highlights and other goodies pre-loaded, embedded inside the interior of the box.

    Also, giant kicking tees (every one as big as a chair!) and green-tinted, gridiron-shaped tables will be sold as "XL" resting places.
    E-mail: sportsbiz@nytimes.com
  2. fleabassist1

    fleabassist1 Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

    wow, that's crazy. :O

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