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Inside Politics

Clinton memoir selling at record pace

More than 400,000 copies sold on first day

From Phil Hirschkorn
CNN

THE MORNING GRIND
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Bill Clinton's new book 'My Life' is greeted by fans and critics.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Former President Bill Clinton can add the title of best-selling author to his resume, as his memoir establishes record-setting sales figures.

The book, "My Life," sold more than 400,000 copies Tuesday, the first day it was available, according to Knopf Publishing Group, which published the hardcover edition.

Knopf, which originally shipped 1.5 million copies to stores, has ordered a second printing of 725,000 copies.

Recordings of Clinton reading an abridged, six-and-half hour version of the 957-page book sold 35,000 copies, nearly 10 times the typical audio bestseller, according to Knopf, a division of Random House, which produced the audio version.

"This is a record-breaking number for a work of non-fiction," Knopf President Sonny Mehta said in a written statement.

The nation's largest bookseller, Barnes & Noble, sold an estimated 90,000 to 100,000 books at its 640 stores nationwide and online, said spokeswoman Marry Ellen Keating.

That included 2,217 books personally signed by Clinton over four hours at his first book tour stop at the chain's Rockefeller Center store in midtown Manhattan.

The former president signed an additional 2,100 books at his second stop at Hue-Man Books, an independent store in Harlem down the block from his office, said public relations representative Melanie Boelinger.

"My hand's holding up -- my shoulder's a little out of joint," Clinton told CNN as he arrived Wednesday for a signing at a Borders store, where about 1,500 buyers lined up for four city blocks to purchase an autographed copy. Clinton spent nearly four hours there.

"I want to go back to my foundation work when I get all this done," Clinton said.

Clinton fan Greg Packer, who had camped out since 4 p.m. Monday, was first in line, he said, to get a copy for his father's 80th birthday.

Borders, the nation's second-largest book retailer, Tuesday sold an estimated 50,000 copies at its 450 stores nationwide and 72 overseas stores, a record for the chain.

Jenny Dahlman, a Borders spokesman, said "My Life" sold at twice the pace that Hillary Rodham Clinton's memoir, "Living History," sold in its first day of release last year. But that's still only one-third the pace of the most recent "Harry Potter" book, Dahlman said.

Mrs. Clinton's book sold more than 1.5 million hardcover copies in the United States, including 200,000 in its first day, according to publisher Simon & Schuster. It sold another 1.5 million in 35 foreign editions. There are 500,000 paperback versions of her book in print, available since April.

The new Clinton book is already the No. 1 bestseller on Amazon.com, the largest online bookseller. The audio recordings are in sixth place on the Web site

The book is too recent to appear this weekend on bestseller lists in major national newspapers. The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times said it won't be listed before their July 4 editions, and the New York Times said not before July 11.

USA Today is likely to list Clinton's book as number one in its weekly book section published July 1, said senior editor Carol Minute.

The former president is embarking on a month-long book tour that will take him during the next week to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley, and San Jose, California.

Clinton also will visit Seattle, Washington; Chicago, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C.; Denver, Colorado; Atlanta, Georgia; Miami, Florida, and his home state of Arkansas. The tour comes before the Democratic National Convention, which begins the last week of July and where Sen. John Kerry is expected to win his party's nomination.

Some Democrats said they fear the publicity campaign for the Clinton book may upstage Kerry, at least for a while, something Republican critics appear eager to see happen.

"Bill Clinton seems to suffer from attention starvation disorder. He seems to need to be at the center of it," said Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster and president of The Polling Company.

"It is difficult to imagine an American reading 'My Life' by Bill Clinton, tossing it on the nightstand, and saying 'Eureka, we have to have John Kerry in the White House, I just figured it all out.'"

Kerry's campaign has said it is not concerned about the book.

CNN's Dalit Herndoon, Jason Meucci, and Jared Fieger contributed to this report.


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