Kennedy has told his own story: coming next month

Even in a season stacked with big books, Ted Kennedy's memoir "True Compass," scheduled for release next month, is likely to be one of the biggest. "My sense is he's going to write his life as he lived it," Bob Barnett, the lawyer who represented Sen. Kennedy in the $8-million book contract told the press at the time of the deal. "You will hear the [accounts] of these momentous events in the voice of the man who lived them."

Kennedy's passing last night will only serve to increase anticipation over the book. Originally, "True Compass" had a 2010 release date. However, that had been pushed up to Oct., 2009, and then, more recently, to Sept. 14.

One of the biggest questions surrounding the book (whether Kennedy will address the 1969 accident at Chappaquiddick which resulted in the death of campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne) remains unanswered. Most pundits predict that any mention of the incident will be omitted. However, when it comes to the book's sales, it may not matter.

"The publishing industry often makes huge advances for celebrity [books] they aren't sure they can earn back," Adam Clymer, author of a book on Kennedy, told the press at the time of Kennedy's sale of his memoir. But "a book by [Ted Kennedy] that is reasonably frank and interesting will sell," he added.

In addition to regular sales of the book, Kennedy's publisher, Twelve, will also be making available – for $1,000 a piece – 1,000 copies of a leather-bound, electronically signed, limited edition of “True Compass” to be sold through the website of parent company the Hachette Book Group.

So high-priced an edition is unusual but not entirely unprecedented. A special edition of President Reagan’s diaries sold for $200 and 1,500 copies of a limited edition of President Clinton’s memoir “My Life” were offered at $350. But in 1990, when Simon & Schuster published President Reagan’s memoir, “An American Life,” a leather-bound, signed, boxed edition was priced at $1,500.

Recent biographies of Kennedy include: "Ted Kennedy: The Dream That Never Died" by Edward Klein, "The Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy," edited by Peter S. Canellos, "The Kennedy Legacy: Jack, Bobby and Ted and a Family Dream Fulfilled," by Vincent Bzdek, and "Ted Kennedy: Scenes from an Epic Life" by the Boston Globe.

Kennedy was also the author of "My Senator and Me: A Dog's Eye View of Washington, D.C.," a book aimed at children, told from the point of view of Kennedy's Portuguese Water Dog, Splash.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.