Thursday, May 14, 2009

Strange Intersections While Investigating Who Will Really Write Palin's "Memoir" -- Part 1

Apparently, the image at left was going to be the cover of a quickie book on Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, to be published last year, possibly in early October. Here's an entry at Publishers Weekly, by Lynn Andriani, from September 23, 2008:

Sarah Palin book will be in bookstores soon: Terminatrix: The Sarah Palin Chronicles (Collins) will join 101 Things You—And John McCain—Didn’t Know About Sarah Palin as the latest humor book on the vice presidential candidate. The book is a satire written by “the editors of the Wasilla Iron Dog Gazette,” although, in the spirit of satire, two HarperCollins editors, Bruce Nichols and Adam Bellow, are “speaking on behalf of the authors.” It features digitally altered photographs of Palin and her family, annotated in “the Governor’s own hand,” which provide “a fascinating running commentary on her life.”

Nichols said the idea for the book arose at a brainstorming meeting on Monday, September 8. “By Tuesday afternoon we were going full blast,” he said. The book went to the printer on September 15, and Nichols already has finished books in hand. The $9.95 trade paperback will officially go on sale October 14, although Nichols expects copies to be in stores before then. Collins will ship 20,000 copies of the 96-page book.

Adam Bellow is pretty well-known in the New York City world of publishing. And he tried to pioneer a 21st century version of the quickie pamphlet-tract, with an idea similar to that described in Adriani's article. Here's a description, from the December 20, 2006 edition of the Columbia Journalism Review:

Adam Bellow, son of the novelist Saul Bellow, has been in publishing for the past twenty years and has earned a name for himself as an editor of famously controversial and conservative books like Illiberal Education, The Real Anita Hill, and The Bell Curve. His newest venture has as its goal no less than, as his Web site puts it, “to reinvent the book for the 21st century.” Bellow wants to do this by bringing back the art of pamphleteering. In a series of 4-by-6 inch, $4 booklets with an average of 60 to 80 pages each, he hopes to create a new, affordable forum for presenting ideas.

The significance for the blogosphere is that Bellow believes the Internet has become the central arena for intellectual debate in America, and it is from this source — reprinting digests of blog posts or letting individual bloggers pull together collections of their writing — that he hopes to harvest most of his material.

Yesterday, New York Magazine announced:

Four months after the story came to light that Sarah Palin was looking to set down the story of her wild ride between hard covers, a deal has been struck with HarperCollins, whose CEO told the Anchorage Daily News the publisher was "first and fervent" in the bidding.

The press release doesn't really promise anything new from the book — just an account of her heroic struggles with humble roots, special needs, the media, and syntax. The latter should be amply on display; the News reports that, although she'll have help from an as-yet unnamed collaborator, "the governor said she wants to do a lot of the writing herself, and that it will be her story and her words."

Palin added, "It will be nice to put my journalism degree to work on this and get to tell my story, Alaska's story."

Which means her editor on the book, Harper executive editor Adam Bellow — son of Saul and author of the book In Praise of Nepotism — finally has a chance to prove his genius. This is a task even his brilliant father might not have been up for.

No dollar figure has been released — though we might be able to piece it together a year from now when she releases her 2009 tax returns. She answered rumors she was asking for $11 million (just under Bill Clinton's advance) by calling it "laughable" — perhaps the truest thing she's ever said.

More on this developing story soon. But here are a couple of suggestions:

1) Anyone who wants to know how heavily involved Adam Bellow will be involved in the writing of Palin's book, should read pages 114-117 of David Brock's book, Blinded by the Right.

2) Please notice the marked change of tone coming from the Johnstons now that this book deal has been announced. Anyone wanting to know why there is this change of tone need only ask Palin's attorney for the book deal, Robert Barnett.

More on the deal, and on the interesting fellow, Adam Bellow, in Part 2.


Anonymous said...

What did Robert Barnett say?

Anonymous said...

Please, Phil, tell us more.

Philip Munger said...


I'm not evaluating above what Barnett has said so far. I'm suggesting further questions be directed toward him.

Anonymous said...

Oops, sorry, should have included this question about: I read somewhere that Todd's telling people a famous person will be living in a rented home near them for 6 months. Is Adam Bellow the guy?

I grew up reading HENDERSON, THE RAIN KING. I didn't know his kid was a right winger.

Philip Munger said...

Part 2 will include references to discussions I have had with the younger Mr. Bellow.

Anonymous said...

Surely the desescalation in tone is coming from the Palin side also, too.

basheert said...

V-E-R-Y interesting.

Do tell us more.

Anonymous said...

I wonder: what is the future of a Conservative imprint in today's market, when only 21% of voters openly affiliate themselves with the GOP?

Mark Regan said...

You realize that the "Terminatrix" book was in fact published and distributed, in time for me to get several copies as Christmas presents. The best Photoshop within the book was the Governor as Joan of Arc.

clark said...

12:18, they manage to move a lot of those books anyway. bulk sales, and they give 'em away later. even they must realize no one would pay to read that crap.

Anonymous said...

$10,000,000 advanc? She needs to sell 1 million books for $20 and get $10 per book or sell 10 million books and get $1.00 per book or sell 100,000 books and get $100 per book or 500,000 books and get $20.00 per book

Big Sales or Expensive Book or Massive BRIBE

Mary said...

It wasn't going to be the cover. It *is* the cover. It's available on

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

I heard today according to people, Bristol is letting Trip visit a Levis house with Sherry? I thought this might be b/c of Rex B/Tank and Levi's poss. book???

Philip Munger said...

Mark & anon - I'll correct the entry this evening when I've got a few minutes. Thanks for the tips.

Anonymous said...

I need someone to clarify for me:

") Please notice the marked change of tone coming from the Johnstons now that this book deal has been announced."

I must have missed something somewhere cause I have not come across ANYTHING from the Johnston's since the book deal was announced.

Please let me know what they have been saying -- is there a link? I just haven't read anything where they commented on the book deal but would like to know. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I can't say who I am, but I knew Saul Bellow very well. I never met his children though except the last one, a girl. Is Adam Bellow a conservative?? I find that very curious. And what about the woman Vincent who was hired to be a ghost writer. Will Adam still be involved. Thank you. This is all very interesting.