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Clinton memoir selling at furious pace
Presidential memoir breaks one-day sales record at Barnes & Noble, exceeds expectations at Borders.
June 23, 2004: 4:32 PM EDT

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NEW YORK (CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton is about to add the title of best-selling author to his resume as copies of his memoir move at record-setting levels.

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. Bertelsmann AG is the parent company of both.

"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 (BKS: Research, Estimates), 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 hands are holding up -- it's my shoulders that are a little sore," Clinton told CNN as he arrived Wednesday for a midday signing at a Border's store around the corner from Wall Street, where another 1,500 buyers lined up for four city blocks to purchase an autographed copy.

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 (BGP: Research, Estimates), 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 Border's spokesman, said "My Life" sold at twice the pace that Hillary Rodham Clinton's memoir, "Living History," published by Simon & Schuster, 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.

His wife's book has sold more than 1.5 million hardcover copies in the United States, and another 500,000 paperbacks are in print.

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Barnes & Noble and Borders together control about 30 percent of the U.S. book market, according to publishing industry experts.

The Clinton book is already the number one bestseller on (AMZN: Research, Estimates), the largest online bookseller. The audio recordings rank number six 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, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, Denver, Atlanta, Miami, and his home state of Arkansas before the Democratic National Convention, which begins the last week of July and will nominate Massachusetts Senator John Kerry for president.

Some Democrats have feared the Clinton book publicity campaign may upstage Kerry, at least for a while, something Republican critics are 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.  Top of page

-- from CNN Senior Producer Phil Hirschkorn

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