How often does it happen that sex, a publicity blunder and a loud-mouth talk radio host’s comments combine to land a book on the New York Times bestseller list?
But that’s just where Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz’s new book, “Spin Cycle,” is headed — with a little help from Bill and Monica, Simon & Schuster’s consumer group prexy Jack Romanos and Don Imus.
Little did Kurtz know when he began chronicling the machinations of the White House spin-control operation back in November 1996 that President Clinton would be embroiled in the Monica Lewinsky scandal just as the book was being completed.
Nor could Kurtz have guessed that Romanos would buck his own company’s carefully laid publicity plan and allow Imus to see the heavily embargoed book weeks ahead of sked.
And he most certainly wouldn’t have bet on cantankerous radio host Imus “going crazy” for the book, dubbing it his “new bible,” talking about it incessantly since Feb. 24 on his syndicated show, and even giving away free copies.
Then the book scored the industry “hat trick,” being featured in the pages of the three big newsweeklies — Time, Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report — all in the same week.
Despite publishing world conventional wisdom that it’s best to talk about books only once they are actually in bookstores (and only according to a strict media schedule), Romanos’ move turned out to be a stroke of genius.
“It added to the mystique of the book,” Kurtz told Variety. “I’d like to say we planned all this, but it was an accident.”
Late last week, “Spin Cycle” was headed for its seventh printing, and a six-figure run — all well before the official pub date — obliterating S&S imprint the Free Press’ original plan to print a first run of only 20,000 copies.
The publisher also “crashed” the book, moving its pub date from June to March, in order to take advantage of the current white-hot White House media cov-erage.