'9/11' means second life for Moore's books

NEW YORK — Bill Clinton will get a sizable window of exposure this summer for the historic rollout of his doorstop memoir — but he’s not the only hot summer name in nonfiction.

Michael Moore is not only a prominent filmmaker but also a best-selling author. Few in Hollywood are able to cross-navigate the film and publishing businesses with the success Moore has enjoyed.

And thanks to the buzz surrounding Moore’s latest doc, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Warner Books is rushing the paperback version of Moore’s “Dude, Where’s My Country” into print. A trade edition will hit bookstores in late July or early August, just as the presidential race picks up.

Released in hardback last October, “Dude” stayed on the New York Times best-seller list for 24 weeks, with Warner publishing 900,000 copies. Traditionally, a paperback isn’t released until a year after the hardback comes out.

“We thought it made sense to move it up. It’s time to reach a new audience with a lower-priced edition,” Warner Books senior VP & publisher Jamie Raab says. “So much of the movie had its genesis and research in the book. He worked on the book first. As he said to me, ‘tell people to read the book for the whole story.’ “

Raab says she couldn’t think of anyone who creates the kind of furor Moore does with both films and books. Even Raab’s competitors agree.

“He’s brilliant and a master attention-getter,” one publishing exec says.

While Raab is keeping mum about Moore’s second book for Warner Books, declining to reveal any details, including whether the project is even under way, Moore revealed to Daily Variety that he’s planning on publishing a book of letters he received from American soldiers in Iraq. “I’ve had some very interesting, engaging and powerful correspondences with soldiers there,” Moore says.

“There was a story a month or so ago about this bookmobile, which provided free books for soldiers over there,” continues Moore. “The No. 1 requested fiction titles? Any book by Stephen King. No. 1 requested non-fiction titles — any book by Michael Moore.”

The filmmaker-author goes on to reveal his “next big book” for Warner will be out in “probably 2006.”

“It’s short stories, but not fiction, from my life, about, you know, attending the seminary to be a priest when I was in high school, how I got my Eagle Scout badge, the day I got stuck in an elevator with Bobby Kennedy.”

Moore’s book prior to “Dude,” “Stupid White Men” (ReganBooks /HarperCollins, Oct. 2002) was one of the best-selling non-fiction books of 2002, the same year his Oscar-winning doc “Bowling for Columbine” was released. He’s also the author of “Downsize This! Random Threats from an Unarmed American” (Crown Publishers, 1996), which also made the NYT best-seller list.

Still, Moore’s relationship with his publishers has been just as controversial as his books and documentaries. He got into a spat with HarperCollins when the publishing house asked him to revise “Stupid White Men.” The first 500,000 copies of the book rolled off the printing press the day before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

ReganBooks decided to delay publication for five months and asked Moore to revise major portions that were offensive to President Bush. Moore refused.

“I also was told by others not to expect much in the way of a book career after this, as word spread that I was considered ‘trouble’ — a royal pain in the ass who wouldn’t play ball,” Moore wrote in the introduction of “Dude.”

Saving the day was a group of librarians, who protested the decision by HarperCollins to shelve the 500,000 copies of “Stupid White Men.” The imprint finally relented and shipped the book to stores, but with almost no marketing, according to Moore.

It was then that Moore bolted HarperCollins for Warner Books, where he signed a two-book deal, the first of which is “Dude, Where is My Country?”

– Steve Chagollan contributed to this report

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