Diana Books: Still Moving

Smith's bio prompts paperback rights rush; lover Hewitt crash-pubs second memoir

Despite what turned out to be a rather tepid celebration of the second anniversary of her death, the late Princess Diana is still attracting a lot of attention in the book world.

The surprisingly robust interest is due in large part to Sally Bedell Smith's Diana: In Search of Herself from Times Books. The book, well reviewed and a bestseller, is provoking continued media coverage. Already having snagged such key placement as a review of her book on the cover of the Sunday New York Times Book Review and a cover-story and excerpt in People, Smith is now scheduled to go on ABC's The View as well as Leeza. Responding to the book's success, print magazines Town & Country and Harper's Bazaar are planning features on the author and book in their October issues.

Publishers also are betting Diana book sales continue though next summer: a group of trade houses just submitted bids for the floor to paperback rights to Smith's book; Berkley emerged the winner, at $162,500; the auction itself is scheduled for October 5.

And still other Diana books are in the works. In November, Warner tags onto Diana worship with the release of Paul Burrell's In the Royal Manner: Expert Advice on Etiquette and Entertaining from the Former Butler of Diana, Princess of Wales. This spring, St. Martin's plans to bring out another biography of Diana, a still untitled tome from celebrity biographer Anne Edwards.

But just how much the public really wants to know about Diana will be truly tested with the crash arrival this fall of Love and War, a second book from James Hewitt, who, with Anna Pasternack, already recounted his affair with Diana in the oft-considered ungentlemanly 1994 title Princess in Love. The new book, which Hewitt claims is more representative of his story, will be published in the U.K. by Blake Publishing on October 26 and be available simultaneously here in the U.S. through its Cincinnati-based importer, Seven Hills Book Distributors.

But even in pre-publication, Love and War is causing battles. The Mail, a British newspaper, is trying to get out of a rumored and record near-million-dollar serialization deal both because of story leaks as well as public and royal family outcry. In Love and War, Hewitt draws on near-daily missives Diana sent to him while he was on a tour of duty in the Gulf war. In February of this year, Hewitt won a legal battle giving him ownership of these letters.

Seven Hills publicist Greg Hatfield told PW that a 100,000-copy worldwide first printing is planned for the book and that a replacement U.S. serial deal is in the works. Hewitt will do a U.S. media tour in October.

But whether media interest in the book leads to book sales in this case remains to be seen. Publisher John Blake admitted to PW that he paid no advance for worldwide rights, and indeed Hewitt had previously shopped the book to major U.S. and U.K. publishers -- and had no takers. Stay tuned.


Bradley's Broadway 'Billboard'

Add Bill Bradley to the list of presidential candidates (McCain, George W., et al.) who will get some promotional "face time" by appearing on covers of books that will hit stores just as Campaign 2000 heats up.

On February 8, Broadway Books will release a 96-page, $10 trade paperback edition of Values of the Game, with its author Bradley, clutching a basketball, on its cover.

Broadway's book is an unusual reprint deal with original publisher Artisan, the Workman division that published Values of the Game as a $30, heavily illustrated hardcover last year. That edition, a sleeper bestseller for Artisan with 200,000 copies in print, didn't even feature Bradley's well-known visage on its cover.

The Broadway edition reprints just the text of the Artisan edition, leaving out the many illustrations, in order to repackage the book as a "motivational paperback," as the catalogue copy asserts. Workman chief Peter Workman told PW that while he previously had refused other trade house's offers for full reprint of his book, ex-Broadway chief Bill Shinker's proposal for a text-only deal proved more appealing, in that it the deal will allow Artisan to push its illustrated hardcover for another Christmas season and to follow with a paperback edition of the full book a year after Broadway text-only edition. Thus, Artisan gets even more value in Values than the typical sleeper hit. -- J.Q


Morning Show Changes

As of September 7, publishers have a new high-profile media venue to promote books: Later Today, an hour-long show that now follows top-rated morning show Today on most NBC stations.

Like ABC's The View, Later Today has a group of female hosts, in this case newswomen Jodi Applegate and Asha Blake, plus "Mrs. Brady," actress Florence Henderson.

Also like The View, Later Today will be interested in softer feature topics. Producer Kim Gerbasi, who previously handled book segments at Today's weekend edition, told PW that the show most likely would draw on books that touch on women's issues or address lifestyle categories, particularly cookbooks. At least one author is set to get increased exposure thanks to the show: Fawcett-published pet expert Warren Eckstein will be a regular correspondent.

The book promo opportunities of Later Today come, however, at the same time as the loss of Leeza Gibbons's talk show, Leeza, from the NBC lineup. Leeza, which has been a good venue for author appearances, is now available through syndication and has been picked up in about 90% of the national market.

The most heated morning TV war this fall, however, will be ABC's and CBS's new bids to take audience -- as well as the choice book bookings -- away from top-rated Today.

On September 13, ABC's second-rated Good Morning America moved to splashier new indoor/outdoor quarters in Times Square. "Temporary" hosts Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer previously contacted publishers about having a monthly book discussion, a la Oprah, but it has yet to be implemented on air.

CBS's morning programming is set for the biggest changes. Former Today host Bryant Gumbel comes on board November 1. The show will change its name from This Morning to The Early Show. And it will have a new studio and -- most important for book promotion -- an extra hour to fill. -- J.Q.