At last year’s Boston Marathon two bombs at the finish line transformed a celebratory event into a tragic one. For the one year anniversary, runners of the 118th marathon (April 21) are seeking redemption. Publishers and authors with ties to the community are seeking it, too, with a handful of books about what happened to the runners and the city—many coupled with donations to The One Fund Boston, which has distributed over $60 million to victims and families affected by the attacks.
The first book out of the gate is Runner’s World contributing editor Hal Higdon’s 4:09:43: Boston 2013 Through the Eyes of the Runners (Human Kinetics, $14.95 paperback original), which he initially self-published. The book, which takes its name from the numbers on the finish line clock when the first bomb exploded, weaves together 75 stories left on his Facebook page in the days immediately afterwards. Higdon collected them and organized them into a single-voiced narrative, which he initially self-published as a Kindle book in August. It was subsequently picked up by Human Kinetics, which is planning a book signing at the 2014 Boston Marathon Expo, along with other publicity, including cross-promote it with Higdon’s marathon training course through Training Peaks.
“What appealed to us is that 4:09:43 is about the runners—who they are, why they run, who they run for. It is a story that could only be told by someone who loves the sport and understands what the Boston Marathon means to so many. Hal Higdon ran in the race 18 times and trained countless others to do the same,” says Jason Muzinic, v-p and consumer division director.
Jeff Bauman chronicles the story what happened to him at the marathon as he waited for his girlfriend to finish, and afterwards, in Stronger (Grand Central, April, $26 hardcover), written with Bret Witter. Bauman was 27 years old when both his legs were destroyed and was the only runner to see the bomber. When she acquired the book last fall, GCP president and publisher Jamie Raab said, “Jeff Bauman gives new meaning to the term ‘Boston Strong.’ His story is deeply moving. But more than that, it is incredibly inspirational.”
Bauman’s publicity schedule is still being finalized. Parade is running an excerpt as a cover story at the end of March, and an interview with Bauman will appear in the May issue of Reader’s Digest. According to senior publicist Caitlin Mulrooney-Lyski, he will appear on the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, The O’Reilly Factor, Fox & Friends, and NPR’s Here & Now at publication. First printing is 250,000 copies.
Last October Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which has offices yards from the finish line, published Our Boston: Writers Celebrate the City They Love (Mariner, $16 paperback), edited by Andrew Blauner, with more than 35 essays by Mike Barnicle, Susan Orlean, Dennis Lehane, Pagan Kennedy, and James Atlas. When the book was signed last May, trade division president Gary Gentel, said, “HMH has deep roots in the Boston community, with an office overlooking the marathon finish line. It means a lot to us to contribute to The One Fund and to celebrate our home city, and we expect this book will be a treasure for many years to come.”
HMH is donating $5 for every copy sold which includes expected revenue after costs plus what would have been authors’ royalties. “We’re still actively promoting and selling, leading up the anniversary, so it is too early to know exactly how big the donation will become,” says v-p, executive director of publicity Lori Glazer. The press held six events last fall, including one at the Boston Book Festival.
Another book that is being used to raise funds is a commemorative chapbook by Richard Blanco, author of the 2013 inaugural poem for President Barack Obama. Boston Strong (University of Pittsburgh Press, $8.85 paperback) is the poem he wrote for The One Fund Boston concert last May.
At least one other book is slated to come out to mark the tragic events, but it won’t be available until the 2015 marathon, Marathon Monday: A Boston Story (UPNE) by Casey Sherman and Boston Herald reporter Dave Wedge. It looks at the city’s reaction and traces the manhunt. The Fighter screenwriters, Eric Johnson and Paul Tamasy, optioned feature film rights last summer, as first reported by Deadline Hollywood.