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Eisner shows softer side, but few buy
Newspaper reports that sales of the outgoing Disney CEO's summer camp memoir are falling short.
July 5, 2005: 9:38 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Disney chief Michael Eisner's new memoir about his childhood summers in Vermont isn't flying off store shelves, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Eisner, whose controversial reign as Disney CEO is due to end soon, bares his softer side in "Camp," a 182-page book that the Times describes as an "all-kumbaya-all-the-time ode" to Keewaydin, a Vermont refuge on Lake Dunmore.

Providing further evidence that controversy is what sells -- especially when it comes to Eisner and the Disney culture -- "Camp" has sold about 5,430 copies since its early June debut, according to Nielsen BookScan data cited by the Times. By way of comparison, "Disney War," the behind-the-scenes look at Eisner's management style published earlier this year, sold about eight times as many copies during a comparable three-week period.

Reviews of "Camp," published by Warner Books, have been mixed, reports the Times. Warner Books and CNN/Money are units of Time Warner (Research).

The book was originally due out in June 2004 but was delayed due to a shareholder revolt that forced Eisner to give up the chairman's job. Eisner remained as CEO but announced his resignation late last year. Robert Iger, Disney's president, will take over from Eisner this fall.

Eisner had spent the last few weeks making the rounds of television and radio shows as part of a heavy promotional campaign for "Camp."

He shrugged off the book's sluggish sales.

"What I'm pretty sure is, it is not going to be a No. 1 bestseller for 26 weeks," Eisner told the Times. "And I'm also pretty sure it's not a disaster. So it's somewhere in the middle."

In the book, Eisner says his summers at Keewaydin taught him the value of mutual respect, leadership and teamwork.

Proceeds from "Camp" will go to Eisner's family foundation.

Laurence Kirshbaum, the Time Warner Book Group publisher who came up with the idea of "Camp," said Nielsen BookScan numbers were not entirely accurate because they exclude sales at Wal-Mart and other large retailers.

Kirshbaum estimated that 25,000 to 35,000 copies -- out of a first printing of 101,000 -- had been sold in the first few weeks. The break-even point is 40,000 to 50,000 copies, according to Kirshbaum.

"It's definitely a hit in Vermont," Kirshbaum said. "Unfortunately, Vermont is not one of the major population centers of the United States."

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