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Alaskans eager for Sarah Palin book release

Palmer book store owner: Customers thrilled that someone from their region made it to the big-time

Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Fans in Sarah Palin's home state turned out as early as possible Tuesday to snap up copies of her highly anticipated memoir.

Curiosity drove Natalie Baumgartner to pick up a copy of the former GOP vice presidential candidate's book, "Going Rogue," at an Anchorage Costco.

"I'm not politically inclined but it is something that I'm just interested in," said Baumgartner, who lives in the central Alaska town of McGrath. "It's more of the human-interest element of it, to see what she's got to say."

David Cheezem, co-owner of Fireside Books in Palmer, said people have been calling to make sure they'll be able to get the book there. He opened early with coffee and doughnuts to celebrate the Tuesday release.

Palmer is adjacent to Wasilla, the hometown of Palin, who resigned as Alaska governor in July. Cheezem said he's hoping some of that regional connection spills over to people buying the book from his store - at the full $28.99 price. By Tuesday morning, 32 copies of his 100-book shipment had been pre-ordered and by late morning another 21 copies had been sold over the counter.

Customers are thrilled that someone from their region made it to the big time, Cheezem said.

"People are not just buying the book for political affiliations," he said. "They're buying it because Sarah Palin grew up here and they know her children and they know her."

Other sellers are offering discounts on the 413-page book, with some national retailers marking the book at about $9.

Pandemonium Booksellers in Wasilla will knock off at least 20 percent, said storeowner Shannon Cullip. Her store has 100 copies available and has another 100 sold through pre-order, including 25 from just one customer.

But there are a few non-fans among the loving hometown crowd, too.

"It's always mixed," Cullip said. "People either love her or they hate her. They either would rather die than read her book or they can't wait to read it and they think everyone needs to read it, too."

The memoir is the first thing customers see when they walk in the door of the Borders store in Anchorage, where the price of the book is slashed by 30 percent for general customers and 40 percent for members of the Borders rewards program. Terry Johnson of Wasilla was waiting for his wife to finish her doctor's appointment and decided to pick up a copy there. Johnson, who has seen Palin around his hometown but doesn't know her, planned to begin reading it right away.

"I'm kind of curious to see what she has to say about the campaign and some of those things," he said.

Kristy Havasi, the store's operations manager, declined to discuss how many books are available or how fast they're selling, only that they were moving quickly Tuesday morning.

"At the beginning, pretty much every other customer was walking out with a copy or two," she said.

The same discounts apply at Borders' Waldenbooks store in Wasilla. The books are going briskly, with 150 copies pre-ordered and another 55 sold Tuesday morning, according to store manager Mary Fox.

"We're having a great time," she said. "The town is just excited. And three boxes are ready to go to people outside the state who wanted to get the books from Wasilla. One gentleman from Minnesota wanted to make sure he got the store stamp so he could show he got it from where Sarah lives."

Another worker at the store, Crystal Dietz, said the store was getting more and more calls leading up to the release date, with some asking if any signings are scheduled for Palin, who is launching a national book tour this week. There's been no word yet on any Alaska appearances.

At Gulliver's Books in Fairbanks, tins of candies packaged as "Sarah's Embarrassmints" are a hot item, far outselling Palin's book.

Store owner David Hollingsworth said he's sold 13 out of his 100 copies. It's nothing like the frenzy he saw for the 2,000 copies he ordered with the last installment of the Harry Potter series.

The July 2007 release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" prompted two young sisters to wait in line outside his store for 11 days, living out in their parents' camper. Hollingsworth also had a midnight release for Potter fans but didn't plan to repeat those hours for "Going Rogue."

"Yes, it's a big deal, but we've had bigger deals," he said.

Coinciding with Palin's national book tour, the Alaska Democratic Party announced Monday it was launching a Web site to hold Palin accountable on some issues. It's called "Say nO to Sarah," or SOS.

"It's a response to all the calls we've gotten from outside of Alaska from people wanting to know what's fact and what's fiction regarding Sarah Palin's record," party spokesman Kevin Harun said.



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