Publishers moved into high gear last week to meet demand for books about Ronald Reagan, sending old titles back to press and rushing out new releases.
Penguin Group's Sentinel imprint is speeding up publication of what it's calling a "fly-on-the wall memoir" by Jim Kuhn, who was executive assistant to the late president. Ronald Reagan in Private: A Memoir of My Years in the White House is scheduled to hit the market July 26 with a 100,000-copy print run. The book was originally slated for publication in 2005.
Also rushing toward a mid-July release is Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended by Jack Matlock Jr. The 400-plus-page hardcover, originally on Random House's list for October, has an announced first printing of 75,000. "We're crashing it through right now," said Anthony Ziccardi, v-p, director of sales and marketing, for RH. The company is also printing an additional 105,000 copies of I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan, which Random House Trade Paperbacks published two years ago, and is sending Edmund Morris's Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan, back to print for an additional 45,000 copies.
Warner has moved up publication of Vanity Fair writer Bob Colacello's Ronnie and Nancy, the first of a two-volume set that covers from Reagan's birth until the 1980 election. The book, formerly slated for January, will now be in stores by September.
Public Affairs is doing a little speeding of its own, though in its case the books were completed long ago. Two backlist books by Lou Cannon, Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power and President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime, will come out later this month as a paperback boxed set. Public Affairs was still deciding when to release the set when the president died, said director of publicity Gene Taft.
A more recent title, God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (Regan Books) got a lift over the weekend, with increased orders prompting the publisher to go back for a fourth printing, bringing the number of copies in print to 48,000. For fans of coffee-table books, DK Publishing is reprinting Ronald Reagan: An American Hero, a $50 hardcover with more than 500 photos from the Reagans' private archives. Harry Abrams is into its second printing of The President & Mrs. Reagan: An American Love Story. Several photographs from the 80-page, $19.95 title are featured in this week's People.
Also enjoying a surge of interest are books from the Free Press edited by a trio of Reagan scholars, Kiron Skinner, Annelise Anderson and Martin Anderson. Reagan: A Life in Letters, a hardcover that came out last fall, was sent back to press for an additional 7,500 copies after the 20,000 copies the publisher had on hand were shipped. "The reason we're being somewhat cautious is we had planned to publish the paperback in the fall," said Free Press publisher Martha Levin. An older title by the same editors, Reagan, In His Own Hand, also has been sent back for a modest 5,000-copy print run. Unlike her counterparts at other houses, Levin isn't speeding out her forthcoming title about the late president, Reagan's Path to Victory, by the same group that edited the Free Press's other Reagan titles. It will come out in October, as originally planned. "If we were to start crashing this morning, which we discussed, it would be six weeks before we got it out; so what's the point?" Levin said. The book, which will be packaged with a CD of Reagan's radio addresses, will be in stores in October.