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Clinton memoir breaks sales record

'Living History' covers White House years

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton signs copies of her memoir at a Manhattan bookstore on Monday.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton signs copies of her memoir at a Manhattan bookstore on Monday.

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CNN's Jonathan Karl has more on Hillary Rodham Clinton's new book, 'Living History.' (June 10)
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's memoir focusing on her White House years as first lady flew off the shelves on its first day of release, and the publisher is already printing more copies.

"Living History" sold more copies in its first day of release than any other nonfiction book in Barnes & Noble's history, the company said Tuesday.

"More than 40,000 books were sold in 24 hours; it's a tremendous amount of books," said Carolyn Brown, director of communications at Barnes & Noble.

The total includes sales at stores and online, from midnight Sunday to midnight Monday. Tuesday afternoon, "Living History" was in first place on Barnes & Noble's list of online sales.

"We expected 'Living History' to be the best-selling biography of the summer and think the momentum will continue through the fall," Brown said.

Publisher Simon and Schuster said nationwide sales so far are about 200,000.

Release of the memoir had been highly anticipated in political circles, fueled by leaks reported last week by The Associated Press in which Clinton, a freshman Democrat from New York and a polarizing figure on the national political stage, wrote about President Clinton's infidelity and her role in the administration.

"We don't know of any other political memoir that has had such a high initial print volume," said Aileen Boyle, Simon and Schuster publicist for the book.

On, Clinton's book ranked second behind pre-orders for the next Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" by J.K. Rowling, which is scheduled for release June 21. Barnes & Noble competitor Borders sells online through

The first printing of Clinton's book was 1 million copies, an unusually high number for a work of political nonfiction, and Simon and Schuster has already ordered another 300,000, Boyle said.

"We expect to order more later this week based on demand," she added.

Boyle said deals for the book also have been arranged with publishers in 18 different countries around the world.

As part of a heavy media blitz to promote the book, Clinton has granted some high-profile television interviews, revisiting such painful and controversial topics as her failed effort to reform health care, her husband's affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky and his impeachment. He was later acquitted by the Senate of the impeachment charges.

Clinton plans a tour through August to further hawk her memoir for which she was paid $8 million. Details of her tour are not being released in advance because of security considerations, Boyle said.

Clinton kicked things off with a book signing Monday in Manhattan, where she lamented what she called the "politics of personal destruction."

Taking reporters' questions before she met with people who had lined up outside a Barnes & Noble to buy her book, Clinton was asked whether reliving some painful moments from her White House years as first lady -- such as President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky -- was painful.

"I think that these were obviously personal and private moments that unfortunately were made public for partisan, political purposes -- a part of the ongoing politics of personal destruction that was so much a part of our country's life and certainly our time in the White House," Clinton said.

"I had to address what was public in my memoir, and I tried to do so in a way that might provide some insight and information to the reader."

"This is my story," Clinton told reporters.

Asked Monday about any White House aspirations, Clinton demurred. "That's obviously flattering, but I have a wonderful job I'm very proud to have, which is representing the people of New York in the United States Senate," she said.

The book is 528 pages spread over 38 chapters, not counting the acknowledgments and index. The retail price of the hardcover book is $28. An audio version of the book, narrated by Clinton, runs seven hours on six compact discs. It costs $30.

"My eight years in the White House tested my faith and political beliefs, my marriage, and our nation's Constitution," Clinton wrote in her introductory author's note.

"I became a lightning rod for political and ideological battles waged over America's future and a magnet for feelings, good and bad, about women's choices and roles," she wrote.

In her most revelatory account yet of their marital problems in 1998, Clinton said she and the president underwent marriage counseling after he finally confessed his affair with Lewinsky.

"As his wife, I wanted to wring Bill's neck. But he was not only my husband, he was also my president, and I thought that, in spite of everything, Bill led America and the world in a way that I continued to support. No matter what he had done, I did not think any person deserved the abusive treatment he had received," Clinton wrote.

Clinton said the "most difficult decisions" in her life have been "to stay married to Bill" and her subsequent race for the U.S. Senate, which she won in 2000.

CNN Senior Producer Phil Hirschkorn contributed to this report.

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