Former President Bill Clinton and his wife, US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, have canceled plans for a signing party for their books during the Democratic National Convention in July, amid concern that too much attention to Bill Clinton's upcoming memoirs will draw the media spotlight away from presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry.
''My Life," Clinton's 957-page autobiography, will appear in stores on June 22, with 1.5 million copies printed. Representatives of the Clintons talked about hosting a signing party at the State Room, the 33rd-floor ballroom at Sixty State Street formerly known as the Bay Tower Room, said Elaine Twombly, director of catering and sales manager at the State Room, but the idea was ultimately dropped.
Currently there is a party at the State Room organized by friends of the Clintons, which the Clintons are expected to attend during the DNC, but signing books is not part of it, Twombly said.
In fact, Clinton will not be signing copies of his memoir in the Boston area during the convention, according to a spokesman for his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf. Many Boston booksellers were vying for the right to host a Clinton event, but Boston is not listed among the cities included in the first two weeks of Clinton's tour. Knopf, a unit of Bertelsmann AG, has only planned out two weeks of the book tour, which includes eight or nine cities, said Knopf spokesman Paul Bogaards. The locations and times would likely be posted today on the company's website, Bogaards said. So far, the publisher has said only that Clinton will appear in three New York bookstores.
Bogaards said Clinton will stop in Boston, but the date has yet to be arranged. In each city, there will probably be one book signing a day, Bogaards said.
Competition amongst booksellers to host Clinton has been heated. Hundreds of bookstores across the nation, including 20 or 30 from Boston, have made strong efforts, with many writing detailed proposals and making repeated phone calls to Knopf.
In their selection, Knopf is making a concerted effort to include a variety of retail outlets, including independent booksellers and chains, Bogaards said. In addition, African-American bookstores and communities will be targeted because of Clinton's commitment to civil rights, he added.
Although Clinton will be in Boston during the convention next month, he will not be participating in any book signings, Bogaards said. The New York Times reported yesterday that Clinton did not plan a convention week book signing for Boston to avoid overshadowing Kerry.
Some booksellers said they were not surprised by the publisher's decision and were pleased to learn the former president would still be visiting a Boston bookstore.
''It's good to know that it's still a possibility," said Susan Chinsen, field national events specialist at Borders bookstore in Boston. ''I can understand that it's pretty hard to balance especially with the DNC being here. The attention might be over the top at that time."
Booksellers said that while Clinton may not be visiting their store at the beginning of his book tour, customer demand for ''My Life," will still be high. Robby Bick, manager of Bunch of Grapes Bookstore Inc. in Vineyard Haven, said Hillary Rodham Clinton came to his store for a book signing for her autobiography ''Living History" in August.
While sales of the New York senator's book were high that day at store, a number of the people who came to the signing had already bought the book when it came out last June, Bick said.
Rodham Clinton signed copies of her autobiography in Bunch of Grapes Bookstore at the end of her tour and afterward vacationed in Edgartown, Bick said, adding he would not be surprised if something similar happened with Bill Clinton's book tour after the Democratic convention.
Clinton's book has been selling well in preorder at stores and on the Internet.
At Amazon.com, the book is already selling seven times as many preorders as Rodham Clinton's autobiography, said Kristin Mariani, spokeswoman for Amazon.com. The book is also the highest ever preorder title in the biography and memoirs category on Amazon, Mariani added.
Wendy Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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