To ensure that a book detailing the history of the company gets as much exposure as possible, L.L. Bean is giving a level of marketing support to L.L. Bean: The Making of an American Icon that could rival the Oprah effect. The campaign will begin with a full-page ad in the L.L. Bean holiday catalogue and will be backed up with point-of-sale displays and book signings at all eight L.L. Bean retail locations, as well as inserts in two million MBNA/ Bean credit card statements and three million inserts in customer packages.

Although many of the marketing efforts are intended to drive book purchases at L.L. Bean, the retailer is also giving booksellers who order 10 or more copies boots, totes, a cap and other merchandise so that they can create in-store displays.

With so much market clout behind it, Bean, written by company chairman Leon Gorman, the grandson of founder Leon L. Bean, is Harvard Business School Press's big book for the fall, and the publisher has set a first printing of 100,000 copies. "What appeals to me," said HBSP v-p and director David Goehring, "is the subtitle: 'The Making of an American Icon.' Everybody here grew up around L.L. Bean. It's a terrific business story about how it weathered the century and became the icon it is today." Despite L.L. Bean's deep New England roots, Goehring isn't concerned that the title will have limited geographical appeal. By the late 1990s, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states account for only about half of Bean's customers, with the fastest-growing sales in the West Coast and the Rockies.

Lest L.L. Bean seem like an exercise on Gorman's part in corporate back-slapping, Harvard actually approached him nearly a decade ago to write about his experiences and paired him with writer Kent Lineback, who did many of the interviews and helped shape the book's structure. Still, Gorman takes sole credit, or blame, for his retelling of the "L.L. Bean story," a quintessentially American one about the rewards of hard work and perseverance—and hiking, biking and fly-fishing.