Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Closing the Book on Gingrich's Deal with Publisher

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Closing the Book on Gingrich's Deal with Publisher

Article excerpt

When the book is finally written on Newt Gingrich, his own aborted book deal - $4.5 million for two books - may well provide the title: "Hoist by His Own Petard." Gingrich, a zealous battler against perks and the so-called Washington establishment, found himself caught up in the anti-Washington wind that originated, partly and substantially, from his own mouth. The wages of hypocrisy are so steep they now run into seven figures.

In renouncing the deal and agreeing to take but a single dollar as an advance, Gingrich did the right thing - I suppose. I applaud him tentatively - with the legendary one hand, as it were - because I was not bothered by the deal in the first place. It was huge and therefore eye-catching, but ethically there was nothing wrong with it.

Certain critics, including Rep. David Bonior, D-Mich., and the editorial page of The New York Times worried that the book deal might obligate Gingrich to Rupert Murdoch, the owner of HarperCollins, the prospective publisher of the two books. Murdoch, not incidentally, is a communications mogul with a great deal of business before the federal government. Had HarperCollins approached Gingrich with an offer and had he not submitted his book proposal to other publishers, these critics might have had a point. That, though, was not the case.

Gingrich's 17-page book proposal was, in fact, submitted to several publishers. One I talked with was intrigued with the idea, although he said that it largely consisted of ideas that Gingrich has already propounded, some of which could be found in his recent speech to new Republican members of Congress. While the HarperCollins offer was substantial, this publisher continued, it was not necessarily out of line. William Bennett's "The Book of Virtues" has sold well over 1 million copies, earning Bennett several million dollars - maybe as much as $7 million. The publisher, of course, has earned a lot more.

On the other hand, all book advances are nothing more than hunches. Ronald Reagan got a reported $7 million for his memoir, but it sold no more than around 200,000 copies, according to industry sources. …

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