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When Politics and Publishing Collide

USA Today’s Carol Memmott looks at the astounding success of Barack Obama‘s THE AUDACITY OF HOPE and whether book sales really do have an impact on campaign plans. Booksellers and political observers have been buzzing for months about the rock-star atmosphere at Obama’s appearances to promote the book. “Reaction to the book and the response he received on the tour contributed to his thinking about the presidential race, but it wasn’t timed for that purpose,” says David Axelrod, a political consultant to Obama. The soon-to-be presidential candidate signed on to write the book long before the idea of running for president ever surfaced, Axelrod says. “There is no question, however, that the book signings and accompanying forums gave him a great opportunity to interact with thousands of people throughout the country.”

These days, it’s almost a requirement for a candidate to write a book, and there sure will be plenty of them coming in 2007 and 2008. “But the smart ones write a book that becomes kinetic, because it’s a bit unusual,” said Douglas Brinkley, citing JFK and Jimmy Carter as presidents who were helped by the books they wrote before. “You don’t want it to smell like a policy-platform document.”

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