NEW YORK — Publishers may be balking at the low- to high-seven-figure pricetag reportedly sought for a tell-all by Monica Lewinsky, but the three publishers who did the low-cost repackaging of Ken Starr’s report to Congress about the Clinton sex scandal are already planning a sequel.
Not everyone in the media stands to benefit from the heat surrounding the affair. Clinton-boosted cable news will provide the broadcast nets with some unexpected competition on the opening night of the 1998-99 primetime Nielsens season.
Pocket Books, Prima Publishing and PublicAffairs Books intend to package in book form the 2,800 additional pages of material from the investigation that the House Judiciary Committee voted to release to the public today.
The material is expected to include transcripts of President Clinton’s deposition (the videotape of which is also being released and will be run on media outlets), Lewinsky’s grand jury testimony, letters sent from Lewinsky to the president and various internal prosecution memos.
“We’re finding people like to have this material in book form, rather than scan through all those screens on the Internet,” says Matthew Carleson, exec VP and chief operating officer of Prima Publishing.
Prima’s $9.99 trade paperback edition of the original Starr Report has gone into its third printing for a total of 300,000 copies.
“We have always intended to do something with this material, but it will probably not be the 72-hour turnaround the first one was,” said PublicAffairs Books publicity director Gene Taft. PublicAffairs has gone back for a 100,000-copy second printing of its $10 trade paperback edition of the original Starr Report for a total of 400,000 in print.
Taft said he believes analysis by Washington Post reporters would be part of any PublicAffairs book, as it was in the original Starr Report edition.
Pocket Books, currently the leader with 800,000 copies printed of its Starr Report book, plans two editions of the new material — a mass market edited version and a trade paperback unedited version.
Both, like Pocket’s earlier Starr book, will have an introduction by Wall Street Journal staff reporter Phil Kuntz, who also will serve as editor of the mass market edition.
And according to Pocket spokesperson Liz Hartman, there may be more books to come: “We’ve found out that those 2,800 pages come from just one of those 18 boxes (that Starr handed over to Congress),” she said.
As for the nets, while CBS is premiering “King of Queens” and “The Brian Benben Show” and NBC is debuting “Conrad Bloom” and “Will & Grace,” several cable channels will be spending those hours dissecting and commenting upon the Clinton video testimony.
The networks will be hoping that all-day coverage on the cable services and expanded newscasts on the networks that evening will have sated the public’s appetite for analysis of the taped testimony, so that by primetime, the country will be ready for more traditional forms of entertainment.