Believe It or Not, Ripley’s Latest Launch a Hit
Fans of the wacky and weird have been entertained by Ripley Entertainment Inc. for more than 85 years, and today the powerful brand is capitalizing on its considerable audience with another entry into its wildly successful book series, “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” The newest edition, “The Remarkable … Revealed,” which marks the fourth installment of the series, launched in August with help from a powerful publicity campaign leveraging the ever-popular Ripley’s brand.
Probably best-known for its attractions and museums, Ripley’s currently operates 64 attractions in 11 countries. However, the company also owns businesses in hospitality, television and publishing. Much of Ripley’s revenue comes as a result of licensing deals—in fact, its entire publishing business was based almost solely on licensing until about four years ago. It was then, says Norm Deska, vice president, intellectual property, that the company realized publishing its own books offered some real benefits.
“Our primary line of business has always been attractions and museums—showing the weird and unusual things—and we never really had any expertise in all these other areas,” says Deska, who has spent 25 years with Ripley’s in various capacities—accounting, operations, franchising and now publishing and licensing. “But we decided it was time to start controlling our own destiny, and bringing the publishing division in-house was sort of the first way. We’ve started using a book packager and our own sales force, etc. More and more we’re trying to bring things in-house to control the brand, and therefore, own the content.”
Deska adds that a staff of about five Ripley’s employees was behind “The Remarkable … Revealed,” which had a print run (in English) of 800,000 units.
The Ripley’s name carries enough weight that content for the book—a collection of wacky tales featuring some of the world’s weirdest people, places and creatures—is virtually all user-generated. “Initially, for the first book, we had so much content [in our archives] that we could use. … It’s a little more of a challenge now, but it’s actually gaining its own momentum. People are now wanting to get in the book. They’re writing to us, giving us content, and that’s helped our book … so, yes, it’s a challenge, but it’s really taking on a life of its own,” says Deska.