Newspapers, Publishers Rush Report to Market


Minutes after the Starr report was released Friday, publishing companies and newspapers scrambled to publish all or part of the 445-page document as well as the rebuttal report issued by attorneys for President Clinton.

Two New York publishers, PublicAffairs Books and Pocket Books, announced plans to print the documents and have them in bookstores across America by Tuesday. Although the market for such "instant books" is often hard to predict, officials at both companies were optimistic about potential sales. A Rocklin, Calif., company, Prima Publishing, also said it would ship 100,000 copies Sunday in a $9.99 paperback.

"This is a very significant report, because it's a possible precursor to impeachment, and that doesn't happen very often," said Gene Taft, publicity chief for the newly formed PublicAffairs. "We will physically print the book Sunday and get it out quickly."

Taft said the book, produced with the assistance of the Washington Post, will contain Clinton's rebuttal as well as commentary by Post reporters. The company will print 225,000 copies in a trade paperback edition for $10, he added.

Pocketbooks, a division of Simon & Schuster, will print 500,000 copies of the report, pricing them at $5.95 each, said senior publicist Laurie Cotumaccio. The book will also contain an introduction by Phil Kuntz, a Wall Street Journal reporter covering the issue.

Other companies, however, decided against publishing the report. Peter Bernstein, publisher of Times Books, said massive Internet exposure and news coverage would make key details available to millions and greatly diminish the potential market. The Internet, he added, "certainly changes the environment from now on in which you do these books."

Meanwhile, several newspapers said they will publish in today's editions all or part of the report by independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, as well as Clinton's rebuttal. The Los Angeles Times is publishing a special section excerpting the report; some other papers planning to excerpt the report are the Miami Herald, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Herald.

The Washington Post, Boston Globe and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock hope to publish the entire report. "We don't know what the logistical difficulties will be of producing the whole document, and that's a key concern, but right now this is our plan," said Post editor Leonard Downie.

A spokeswoman for the New York Times said the paper declined to reveal the contents of its next day's edition.

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