Vintage Books, the paperback division of Alfred A. Knopf (part of the Random House group), today announced it will publish "The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward -- A New Approach," as an authorized exclusive original paperback (i.e., skipping hardcover) Dec. 6. This is the report of the Baker-Hamilton commission, the 10-member bipartisan group charged with making recommendations on Iraq war strategy and policy.
This isn't the first time an official report has had an exclusive commercial publisher. The 2004 report of the 9/11 commission (of which former US Representative Lee Hamilton was also co-chairman) was published by W.W. Norton. But the tight timing is unusual; the study group reportedly reached agreement only yesterday on recommendations.
As explained to me just now by Vintage spokesman Russell Perreault, the study group queried several publishers (how fast can you do it? how many copies can you print?) and picked Vintage. The final text of the report will go to Vintage electronically tomorrow, will be designed and typeset in one day, and the presses will roll immediately, in time for bookstores around the country to have books on shelves next Wednesday -- the same day the report is officially given to the president and Congress.
Perreault said printing numbers are unavailable; that will depend on retail orders. He was not sure if any advance was paid (it seems unlikely -- the study group was appointed by the United States Institute for Peace, chartered and funded by Congress), but said, "portions of the proceeds will go to a charity, to be announced next week." The report will also be available for free downloading.