First lady Laura Bush's memoir

January 5, 2009 8:25:59 AM PST
First lady Laura Bush has sealed a deal worth millions with Scribner to publish a memoir that will encompass her recollections of personal and historical moments, including her eight years in the White House.

The publishing house, in announcing the agreement on Monday, said the memoir is expected to be released in 2010. Sally McDonough, first lady Laura Bush's press secretary, declined to say how much Bush is being paid for the book but past deals involving first ladies have carried multimillion-dollar payouts.

"As a rare witness to the private moments of one of our country's most consequential presidencies, and as a first lady who has maintained a notable level of discretion, her memoir will provide a candid and personal perspective, and an enduring record, of the years that have already determined the court of the 21st century," said Susan Maldow, executive vice president and publisher of Scribner.

Maldow negotiated the book deal with Washington attorney Robert Barnett, whose many clients include former President Bill Clinton, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Edward Kennedy. Nan Graham, vice president and editor in chief of Scribner, will edit the memoir.

A memoir from Laura Bush could be the political equivalent of "Garbo Speaks." The public has long been fascinated by the first lady, if only because she has said so little about herself, and her life is already a best seller in fictional form, in Curtis Sittenfeld's novel "American Wife."

Publishers seem to have a much higher regard for the first lady, a former schoolteacher known as a passionate reader, than for President George W. Bush, and the book deal - even during a dire economy - would likely be worth at least as much as Hillary Clinton's $8 million for the memoir "Living History."

Books by recent first ladies, including Laura Bush's mother-in-law, Barbara Bush, have had more dependable commercial appeal than those by former presidents.

Laura Bush said she looked forward to working with the publisher "as I tell the stories of the extraordinary events and people I've met in my life, particularly during my years in the White House."

President George W. Bush said last year that he, too, wants to write a book. Publishers, noting his poor approval ratings, have urged him to wait.

Publishers are betting that the market for a memoir by Laura Bush is much greater than for her children's book, "Read All About It!" - published last spring by HarperCollins with an announced first printing of 500,000.

Scribner is a division of Simon & Schuster Inc., part of CBS Corp.


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