An imprint of the Hachette Book Group beat out eight other publishers to win an auction to print Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy’s memoirs. Terms of the deal weren’t released, but a source close to the negotiations said this week that it was comparable to the $8 million Hillary Clinton received for her book, Living History. (The Seattle Times)
What the commentators said
Kennedy has plenty of material to offer, said Susan Milligan in The Boston Globe (free registration). The book will come out in 2010, so it will benefit from the publicity of the 50th anniversary of the election of the senator’s brother, the late president John F. Kennedy. The publisher expects it to cover “the Kennedy administration, the assassinations of his brothers, the civil rights movement, and later events,” which could make it worth what may be “one of the largest" payments "in history.”
It’s anybody’s guess how far Kennedy wil go “to satisfy public curiosity about his family's history of scandal and tragedy,” said Suzanne Goldenberg in the London Guardian. The real question is what he’ll reveal about “the episode that blighted his own career” and probably cost him the 1980 Democratic nomination for the presidency—the night in 1969 when he drove his car off a bridge at Chappaquiddick Island, and his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, was killed.
The publisher stands little chance of recouping such a whopping advance unless Kennedy “finally tells what really happened” that night, said Richard Johnson in the New York Post’s Page Six. Jonathan Karp, president of Hachette’s Twelve imprint, said the 75-year-old senator has promised to be “candid,” but conservative pundits are betting that won’t apply to the crash, which Kennedy didn’t report for hours.