Inside Move: Overdue Bill book

Prez's tome can't get a date

Where’s the book, Bubba?

With the public’s appetite for political titles suddenly ravenous, buzz is building about former President Bill Clinton‘s untitled memoir. But when it’s coming out is anybody’s guess.

Knopf has long said the pub date is mid-2004.

“He is still writing. He is still working on the book. As soon as he’s done, we will accelerate publication,” a Knopf spokesman tells Variety.

Mid-’04 usually means June or July. Leave it to the Clinton team to play around with semantics.

Rival publishing execs say there’s no way Knopf will release the book in June. Most bookstores already have a full dance card that month, and launching a tentpole book isn’t an overnight job. There are ads to buy and supply lines to be organized.

St. Mark’s Bookshop in Gotham, which caters to the politically minded, says it has heard nothing from Knopf about an arrival date. It usually gets three months’ notice.

Clinton’s book may be able to dance around the normal rules, considering the author and subject matter.

But the stakes are high. Knopf, which bought the book for an advance of $10 million-$12 million, plans to ship close to a million copies.

And there’s plenty of competition. More than half of the latest New York Times’ bestseller list is political nonfiction, led by Richard Clarke and Karen Hughes.

Hilary Clinton was paid only $8 million for her book, “Living History.” Published last June, it became an instant hit, selling 600,000 copies in its first week and quickly earning back its huge advance. It went on to sell more than 1.3 million copies in hardcover.

If that’s not pressure enough, there’s the added expectation that Clinton’s book has to address the Monica Lewinsky scandal that almost derailed his marriage and presidency.

It’s enough to give anyone writer’s block.

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