Clinton lands record $78m deal for memoirs

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 August, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 August, 2001, 12:00am

Former US president Bill Clinton made publishing history yesterday by snaring an advance of more than US$10 million (HK$78 million) for his memoirs.

The rights to the account of Mr Clinton's life and political career had become the hottest in publishing, boosted by his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

The bid by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, apparently caught other publishers off guard. By dealing with one house only, Mr Clinton avoided the tawdry spectacle of being seen to auction his memoirs to the highest bidder.

No dollar figure was disclosed by either the publisher or Mr Clinton, but various sources said the amount was at least US$10 million, with some putting the figure as high as US$12 million.

Either figure outstrips the previous records for a non-fiction work - US$8.5 million for Pope John Paul's autobiography and the US$7 million to US$8.5 million reportedly paid to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Unlike the Pope, however, the Clintons' payments will not be going to charity.

Knopf president Sonny Mehta said the heart of the memoir would be Mr Clinton's two-term presidency, which included the Lewinsky sex scandal that led to his impeachment in 1998. Mr Clinton remained in office when the Senate voted against his ouster.

The advance - to be boosted by sales and syndication rights - will prove handy for the Clintons. The couple still owe US$3.9 million to lawyers.

The book will be edited by Robert Gottlieb, who assisted actress Lauren Bacall, Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham and novelist Toni Morrison with their memoirs.