Laura Bush gets book deal estimated in millions

Publishers were reportedly underwhelmed in meetings with the first lady, who is unlikely to tell all.

By Alex Koppelman

Published January 5, 2009 5:30PM (EST)

The publishing industry is in a shambles, with major houses laying off employees and dropping authors, but rest easy: Laura Bush will still get to write a memoir. The Associated Press reports that Scribner has signed on to a deal that could be worth millions.

A book by the first lady is likely to be worth more, commercially, than one by her husband would be. That's historically the case, at least, and since the American public isn't exactly fond of the president, the trend will almost certainly continue.

Of course, commercial value doesn't mean the book will actually be worth reading. Sure, no one expects a tell-all -- or even a tell-some -- but if the early word from the New Yorker's Sheelah Kolhatkar (h/t to Gawker) is any indication, there might be even less insight involved in the book than one might normally expect. Kolhatkar writes:

One question that seems to be weighing on prospective editors is whether a book by Mrs. Bush will provide a candid account of her feelings, and perhaps counter the popular view of her as an opinion-free robot...

The reception to Mrs. Bush’s pitch has been mixed so far. "She was not forthcoming about anything that I would consider controversial," [a] publisher who met with her said. "We questioned her rigorously, but it was one-word answers. I considered it the worst, or the most frustrating, meeting of its sort that I've ever had."

"I chose not to meet with her," a publisher at another company said. "I got the impression that everyone was totally underwhelmed by her. That’s why there's so little buzz."

The book is scheduled to be released in 2010. No co-author has been announced yet.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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