Harry Potter publisher gives Wisden a new inningsDecember 6th, 2008 - 2:52 pm ICT by ANI
London, Dec.6 (ANI): Bloomsbury, the publisher that brought fame to J.K.Rowling by publishing her Harry Potter series, has in its a possession an idiosyncratic and enduring sporting reference books titled the Wisden Cricketers Almanack.
Hoping to capitalise on crickets booming popularity, particularly in Asia and in the games shorter Twenty20 format, Bloomsbury wants to take Wisden and all its eccentricities to a much broader audience.
The current edition of the yellow tome is the 145th. While the first Wisden Almanack, published in 1864 by John Wisden, contained 112 pages, the current edition contains nearly 1,700 pages.
According to The Times, it contains accounts of cricket in such far-flung outposts as the Dominican Republic, Rwanda and Croatia, details of cricketers in trouble with the law, and the Index of Unusual Occurences. Wisden has since 1993 been in the family of the late Sir Paul Getty, the American-born billionaire philanthropist who was converted to cricket by Mick Jagger. His son, Mark, owned the company for the past five years, during which he sold first the website Cricinfo (to the American sports channel ESPN) and then the magazine The Wisden Cricketer (to Sky, like The Times a subsidiary of News Corporation).
The Almanack itself has four permanent staff but the last edition used 128 contributors. It enjoys almost sacred status among the 40,000 or so enthusiasts who pay 40 pounds for it every year.
Richard Charkin, executive director of Bloomsbury Publishing, said: We are buying the tradition and we would be mad not to respect it.
This is the bible for cricket or, as someone once said, the Bible is the Wisden of God.
Bloomsbury already publishes several highly successful reference works through its A and C Black subsidiary.
Jill Coleman, managing director of A and C Black, said that she planned to keep the existing feel of Wisden but also to expand its geographic reach and its reach in other media as the company looks for reliable long-term revenue streams.
Ideas under consideration include separate Indian or Asian editions of the book and a mammoth project to put the entire Wisden back catalogue online, as the company has recently done with Whos Who.
Scyld Berry, the current editor and cricket correspondent for The Sunday Telegraph, was told of the sale last week.
Speaking from his hotel room in Abu Dhabi, where he is on the way to India with the England team, he said that the new owners must protect Wisdens independent voice.
There is so much money and power in cricket now concentrated in so few hands that Wisden has an incredibly large role to play as an honest broker, he said. (ANI)
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