Al and Tipper, Still Not a Best Seller
It's Week 2 of Al and Tipper Gore's book campaign juggernaut. The ex-veep and his wife -- who pocketed a rumored seven-figure advance from Henry Holt and Co. -- have been welcomed by countless media outlets willing to help them hawk "Joined at the Heart," an anecdotal study of the American family, and "The Spirit of Family," a companion coffee-table photo collection.
But while the authors are getting star billing wherever they go -- including Al's scheduled guest shot on tomorrow's "Tonight Show With Jay Leno" -- their books aren't selling up to expectations, publishing sources told us yesterday. "They've been on television, in Time magazine and everywhere else, and the sales don't seem commensurate with the attention," said a publishing executive who asked for anonymity. "I'm no political expert, but it's surprising when an author gets so much publicity and the sales aren't more dynamic."
A prominent Democratic strategist who advised Gore's presidential campaign compared this book tour to that of another former vice president. "I remember vividly the amount of coverage Dan Quayle received," the consultant told us. "People lined up at Borders for signings, but it takes a lot more people to put together an electoral college majority. What's happening to Gore now is the reverse of what happened to him in 2000. Back then, he did much better with the public than he did with the press."
"Joined at the Heart" is No. 21 on the New York Times extended bestseller list, while its sales rank on Amazon.com was 1,514 at deadline time (and 734 on BarnesandNoble.com); the photo book was moving at a similar pace. In contrast, our colleague Bob Woodward's new book about President Bush has rocketed up the charts.
But, said Henry Holt publicity director Elizabeth Shreve, "the Gores have just come off the first leg of their very successful book tour. Every event was exceptionally well attended, sales were extremely strong, and our accounts could not be happier."
Former Gore campaign press secretary Chris Lehane e-mailed: "As long as Justice Scalia -- Judge Grinch -- does not have the Supreme Court rule that the Gores' book cannot be a stocking stuffer for the holidays, I am sure it will do well. Also, Bush should like the Gore picture book -- with all the photos, it is right up his alley, while the Woodward book seems to be a little long and dense for his type of a read." Gore's current spokesman, Jano Cabrera, declined to try topping Lehane: "Why put my foot through a Picasso?"
THIS JUST IN...
* While the cat's away? We hear that presidential twins Jenna and Barbara Bush were planning to light a big bonfire at the family ranch near Crawford, Tex., last night as part of the celebration of their 21st birthday. School friends from Jenna's University of Texas and Barbara's Yale were expected to converge on the ranch before President Bush and wife Laura arrive later this week. No word on what was on the menu, and Dan Henderson of Uncle Dan's Rib House, a popular caterer from nearby Waco, said he hasn't been contacted. "I know the president has had his hands full with his two girls, and since I have two of my own, I can sympathize with the man," Uncle Dan said. "I'm sure the party won't get out of control," he predicted. The first lady's press secretary didn't return our call.
* Friends in high places: We hear that avocational pilot John Travolta, who flies his own Boeing 707, has agreed to help the Smithsonian launch its year-long Centennial of Flight celebration Dec. 17 at the Air and Space Museum. We also hear that Kennedy Center trustee Ann Jordan, wife of Bill Clinton pal Vernon Jordan, has been elected chairman of the National Symphony Orchestra.
* Their politics might be discordant, but their musical tastes are apparently in sweet harmony. Thus principal NSO pops conductor Marvin Hamlisch credits conservative pundit Cal Thomas for helping him book Irish singing star Mary Black for this weekend's Kennedy Center performances of "A Celtic Evening." Hamlisch told us: "I met Cal a year or two ago after a concert, when we were having dinner in the same restaurant. We didn't talk politics, we talked music. It turns out he loves Broadway pop tunes and he also loves Celtic music. Later I told him about this concert, and he said he was friends with Mary Black and he helped me get her here." Irish fusion violinist Eileen Ivers is also on the program.