DESPITE POOR REVIEWS,
CLINTON BOOK SETS ONE-DAY, NON-FICTION SALES RECORD
By Antoine du Rocher
NEW YORK, 23 June
2004In spite of less-than-enthusiastic reviews, first day sales for
Bill Clinton's My Life exceeded 400,000 copies in the U.S., it was
announced today by Sonny Mehta, president of the Knopf Publishing Group. The
audiobook edition is also setting sales records, with 35,000 copies sold the
first day. "This is a record-breaking number for a work of non-fiction," says
Mehta. "Indeed, we are seeing exceedingly strong sales for My Life not
only across the country but around the world."
Sales of the book have
hardly been affected by early reviews, which have been poor. (Most notable
among these was the devastating front-page review by Michiko Kakutani of the
Sunday New York Times, which dismissed the book as "sloppy, self-indulgent and
often eye-crossingly dull.") In fact, in light of the unprecedented demand from
retailers, Knopf printed an additional 725,000 pre-publication copies of My
Life beyond the initial print run of 1.5 million. Yet more printings are
planned to meet continuing demand from retailers.
surprisingly, much of the pre-publication media attention, including a
television interview on the American network CBS's 60 Minutes,
focused on Clinton's sexual
indiscretion with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and the subsequent
reaction of his wife Hilary when he confessed to having lied about his affair.
For all the hype surrounding the book, there was little in-depth assessment of
the memoir in terms of Clinton's domestic record, such as attempts at health
care reform or the economic boom of the 1990s, or American foreign policy, such
as his efforts in the Middle East.
One can only speculate the effect
the book will have on the presidential elections in the White House in
November. Even at his most "eye-crossingly dull", Clinton is far more
charasmatic and engaging than the rather hang dog candidate Kerry. More
importantly, Clinton's claim to have warned Bush about Al-Qaeda as he was
leaving office (http://news.scotsman.com/international) could
remind the electorate of how the Republican administration dismissed the
threat posed by Islamic fundamentalism that has since come to define the
Antoine du Rocher is a French cultural journalist and
writer based in New York. He is also a member of the editorial board of
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