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A Flood Of Palin Books To Hit Shelves

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

The former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has become a one-woman book industry. There are a torrent of Palin books headed toward publication. Theres of course her upcoming memoir Going Rogue: An American Life thats due out November 17th. Thanks to pre-orders its already a bestseller and a target for parody. There are, in fact, two books coming out the same day called Going Rouge. One is a book of essays, the other is a coloring book.

There are also books written by journalists who covered Palin during the campaign. Marjorie Kehe is the book editor for The Christian Science Monitor. Shes been following the influx of Sarah Palin books this fall, and she joins me from Boston. Welcome to the program.

Ms. MARJORIE KEHE (Editor, The Christian Science Monitor): Hi, Michele.

NORRIS: Why is she such a rich subject for so many titles?

Ms. KEHE: Well, Michele, this is like a perfect storm for publishers. I mean, these are all the things that sell books. First of all, youve got a politically controversial figure. Political controversy is a fabulous thing to sell books. But at the same time, youve got at the center of it, a woman whos quite good-looking, a celebrity, shes got a family with all kinds of various interesting soap opera themes going on. Its just, sort of, its ideal in terms of trying to sell a book.

NORRIS: And the industry really believes that theres a market for this many Sarah Palin books?

Ms. KEHE: Well, that remains to be seen. Not everybody is convinced. It may well be that youre going to find that readers go on Palin overdose, or you may find that, yes, for her own memoir, many people are eager to hear what she says. But by the time they finish that, theyre going to say, you know what? I really know enough. I dont care to read anymore.

NORRIS: Help us understand how Sarah Palins own biography is already a bestseller. Is this a new tactic pumping up pre-orders to create bestseller buzz, even before the book is released?

Ms. KEHE: Well, shes not alone. I mean, we have seen this happen with blockbusters, especially of late. You know, for instance, Dan Browns The Lost Symbol, just one example of many. But this one I think is particularly interesting because, you know, Sarah Palin really ignites that red state/blue state split that we hear so much about nowadays. And Im kind of fascinated, when you write about her as someone who does a books blog, I find that instantly its amazing how many responses you get, and theyre so divided. About half the people writing it are writing to say it horrifies them that Sarah Palin is writing a book. And the other half are writing in to say, oh, wonderful bowling(ph) for Sarah, I cant wait to get my hands on it.

NORRIS: Marjorie, with so many books turned around so fast, at least in terms of the publishing pipeline, should we assume that authors look at her almost from the day that she was first announced in August and said, now, thats going to make for a great book. Let me start working on it right now.

Ms. KEHE: Oh, as Sarah Palin herself would say, you betcha. I mean, cant you just imagine anyone with any kind of a connection or any reason to think that he or she would have something to add to the Sarah Palin story jumped and called an agent, Im sure.

NORRIS: If we look at all of the Sarah Palin books that are about to be published, what do we learn about the book publishing industry in this moment?

Ms. KEHE: Oh boy, I - you know, I hate to say it, but I dont think it paints a pretty picture. It seems to me it smacks of a bit of desperation. And in many cases it shows a little bit of disregard for quality, a willingness to cater, in some cases, not every case, certainly, but sometimes to a lowest common denominator.

NORRIS: Marjorie Kehe, its been good to talk to you. Thanks so much.

Ms. KEHE: Oh, sure. Thanks, Michele.

NORRIS: Marjorie Kehe is the book editor for The Christian Science Monitor. She also writes a blog called Chapter & Verse. She joined us from Boston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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