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Gingrich or Poor?

Newt Gingrich, best selling author? -- Booksellers aren't betting that "To Renew America" will do as well as publishers predict

Don't weep for Newt Gingrich. Sure, the new king of the Hill gave back that $4.5 million advance from his two-book deal with HarperCollins, but his agent expects the Speaker of the House to make a bundle in royalties when the publisher ships 750,000 copies of his tract, To Renew America, next fall. But will he? An informal canvass reveals that booksellers aren't guaranteeing a landslide. ''The publisher's expectations are going to be high and I think they're not going to be met,'' says Richard Howorth of Square Books in Oxford, Miss., a place where works by William Bennett and Rush Limbaugh have done well. Rick Simonson of Seattle's Elliott Bay Books Co. echoes Howorth's view: ''Most books by past or present politicians— Tip O'Neill, Ronald Reagan — haven't sold much.'' In other words, Gingrich beware: Fortunes in Washington, as in the book biz, can turn on a dime. ''I cannot give away a Clinton book,'' says Penny Davies of Earthling Bookshop in Santa Barbara, Calif. ''How long has he been in office?''

Originally posted Jan 13, 1995 Published in issue #257 Jan 13, 1995 Order article reprints

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