WASHINGTON – Bookstores received dozens of requests for the commercially published version of “The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward – A New Approach” on Wednesday as its authors presented their recommendations on Capitol Hill.
At the morning news conference,former secretary of state James A. Baker and former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton were flanked by the other eight members of the panel of former public servants.
“This report by this group of has-beens is the only bipartisan report out there,” said Baker,a Republican.
But that doesn't mean the 142-page report will be the next New York Times bestseller. Vintage Books,a division of Random House Inc.,published the report and will donate some of the proceeds to a charity benefiting soldiers' families.
“Although people are very interested in it,it's not going to be the same thing as the 9/11 report,” said Andy Shuman,a co-owner of the Trover Shop,the closest bookstore to the Capitol. The store got its shipment of about 70 books late in the day.
“[Iraq] still affects people because we have loved ones fighting,” he said. “But it's not the same thing. It's happening in somebody else's backyard and not ours.”
Some booksellers are expecting high sales – and some do compare it to the 2004 bestseller,”The 9/11 Commission Report.”
“Whenever we see a title getting a lot of attention in the news,it sparks interest,” said Ann Binkley,a spokeswoman for Borders.
Some say that hype is expected to carry sales.
“We anticipate that ‘The Iraq Study Group Report' will be an instant bestseller,” said Bob Wietrak,a vice president of merchandising for Barnes & Noble Booksellers,in a prepared statement. “We expect there to be an initial pop and then sales will level off accordingly.”
But it might take a day or two for most people to catch on,said Sean Cummings,an assistant manager at the downtown Washington Barnes & Noble,which ordered more than 200 copies.
“The feeling I'm getting is people didn't realize it was going to be in print that quickly,” he said. “I think it kind of snuck up on a lot of people.”
At Trover and Barnes & Noble,reporters were among the first to snag copies.
The book jumped to the No. 22 spot on Amazon.com sales rankings Wednesday evening. “You: On a Diet: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management” clinched the top spot.
At the news conference,former Wyoming senator Alan K. Simpson,joked that former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor criticized his writing for the report because he split too many infinitives. Both are panel members.
Simpson said Americans can either accept the report or not,adding that it was important to have scrutinized the war. He said he expected criticism from both the far right and left.
Leon E. Panetta,a former House member and chief of staff for President Clinton,said the panel told President Bush he needs to unify the country because the war has divided it.
Dozens of camera crews and more than 100 reporters crowded the large hearing room in the Hart Senate Office Building for the news conference. Panel members spoke and answered questions for 45 minutes. They were swarmed by reporters and photographers as they left.
The report's main suggestions to policy makers are that U.S. troops should hand over power to the Iraqi army and withdraw from the war-torn nation by 2008. It called the war in Iraq “grave and deteriorating.”
“The Iraq Study Group Report” is available free online.
For more photos from the commission's news conference,go to this photo gallery.