The memoirs of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are slated to hit the market Monday, but will her book be a financial boom or bust?
A recent poll shows Americans have little interest in the forthcoming work, with only one person in 20 eager to read it.
Hillary’s ‘Living History’ coming Monday
Publisher Simon & Schuster hopes to make history with Hillary’s “Living History,” the 576-page tome for which it agreed to pay $8 million, especially since the former first lady provides some insight into the sex scandal with Monica Lewinsky.
It ordered a whopping first U.S. printing of 1 million copies – a sales benchmark industry insiders deem more plausible for Harry Potter fantasy books than Hillary’s dish on eight years in the White House, her marriage to Bill and the sexscapade that triggered his impeachment.
“The response to the book has been truly phenomenal,” Carolyn Reidy of Simon & Schuster said in a press release. “The enthusiasm and the advance orders from booksellers all over the country have been among the strongest I’ve experienced in my publishing career.”
Calls to the publisher for specifics on numbers were not returned.
Mrs. Clinton launches her publicity tour next week with interviews with ABC’s Barbara Walters in the U.S. and ITV’s Trevor McDonald in Britain.
A summer book tour will then whisk New York’s junior senator across the U.S. for book signings and media appearances.
But will sales follow all the hype?
“We see this as the first major best seller of the year, carrying its momentum through the summer into the fall,” Caroline Brown, a New York representative of the Barnes & Noble chain told the Sacramento Bee. “We have made a big commitment to this book, and we have confidence in it.”
Brown and her colleagues at rivals Borders and Amazon.com won’t divulge the numbers of copies ordered or the status of pre-release advance sales, but smaller bookstores across the country are sticking their necks out with orders of 1,000 copies.
As of Tuesday evening, the book was listed at No. 8 on the Amazon.com sales rank.
“There is practically nobody who won’t want to read her book,” New York agent Elaine Markson told the Bee. “Those who love her will read it and those who hate her will read it because they want to know what [she] is saying now. It looks like a win-win situation for her.”
However, a Gallup poll taken for USA Today and CNN doesn’t reflect that prediction. A telephone survey of 1,019 adults taken last weekend found only 5 percent were “eager to read” Clinton’s book. Another 39 percent responded they “may read it someday.” Meanwhile, 34 percent said they don’t plan on reading the book and another 21 percent responded they wouldn’t read it even if paid to.
The book, which has a list price of $28, took two years to write and has been billed as a “complete and candid” account of her years in the White House.
Citing political and industry insiders, USA Today reports the book is “surprisingly revealing,” as the Democrat expounds on topics like her failed health proposal, the myriad of independent counsel investigations and the 21-year-old intern Lewinsky.
The Associated Press says it obtained a copy of Hillary’s memoir, and reports it delves into the behind-the-scenes “tears and tirades” of the Lewinsky affair.
“The most difficult decisions I have made in my life were to stay married to Bill and to run for the Senate from New York,” she writes, according to the AP.
Reflecting back on the saga, Clinton writes, “The Lewinsky imbroglio seemed like just another vicious scandal manufactured by political opponents.” But more than six months later, she details how Bill Clinton told her for the first time that “the situation was much more serious than he had previously acknowledged” and that there had been “inappropriate intimacy.”
“I could hardly breathe,” Hillary writes, according to the AP. “Gulping for air, I started crying and yelling at him, ‘What do you mean? What are you saying? Why did you lie to me?’ I was furious and getting more so by the second. He just stood there saying over and over again, ‘I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I was trying to protect you and Chelsea.'”
While the spurned first lady-turned-senator denies any interest in running for president in 2004, a 2008 bid is widely anticipated to be on the Democrat’s radar screen.
“I think this is a very important book for her,” Democratic strategist Donna Brazile told USA Today. “It’s an important launching pad.”
For that, political analysts doubt the book will be as candid about other subjects, including the Whitewater scandal and the death of former law partner and Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster. Anything revealing would become GOP grist.
“‘Living History’ should be called ‘Killing History,'” the London Times quotes Larry Klayman, chairman and general counsel of the public-interest watchdog group Judicial Watch, as saying. “It will be a powder-puff book. It will go into children and all her other causes, but it will be a prelude to running for president, not an account of the past.”
Since her famous slam on stay-at-home moms on CBS’ “60 Minutes” during the 1992 presidential campaign, Mrs. Clinton has cultivated fans and foes alike.
The Gallup poll demonstrates a sharp divide, with 43 percent holding a favorable opinion and 43 percent holding an unfavorable opinion of her. She’s perceived to be intelligent by 72 percent, honest and trustworthy by 24 percent and power-hungry by 50 percent.
Hillary named sixth ‘most evil person of millennium’
In a 1999 survey, readers of the New York Post voted Hillary the sixth “most evil person of the millennium,” behind Adolf Hitler, her husband Bill, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot and Dr. Josef Mengele. She was one position ahead of Saddam Hussein, who was ranked seventh most evil. The Post reported the Clintons were surprise winners because both were “write-in” nominees.
“Like a modern-day Gollum, Mrs. Clinton’s quest for political brass rings frequently descends into evil, from Whitewater to FBI Filegate to Travelgate to taking over 2 million dollars in illegal contributions for her Senate campaign from Judicial Watch client Peter Paul. Judicial Watch’s quest is to throw her ring into the judicial ‘Cracks of Doom,'” commented the group’s selection committee.
But whether negative or positive, publicity is still publicity, notes a manager at Books-A-Million in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“With all the push that Fox News and Bill O’Reilly are doing, the book will be big,” he told WorldNetDaily, adding, “That guy’s a bigot.”
Simon & Schuster published three previous books by Clinton. “It Takes a Village,” “Dear Socks, Dear Buddy,” and “An Invitation to the White House.”
According to the AP, the publisher paid the senator a $2.85 million advance toward “Living History.”
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