Sarah Palin was actually too busy signing copies of her memoir "Going Rogue" to notice. The tomatoes hurled at her during her bookstore appearance at Minnesota's Mall of America landed about ten feet off mark, hitting a police officer instead of Palin herself. But the incident has got to be disturbing, nonetheless.
Throughout the course of Palin's book tour, she has been thronged by fans, some of whom have even camped out overnight to guarantee a chance to have her autograph their books. At least at some stores, those who wait in line must pass through a security check before they can enter the store.
It's not clear what the security arrangement was at the Mall of America, but the man who reportedly hurled the tomatoes (who is now in police custody) was not in line waiting to meet Palin, but rather was watching her autograph books from a position in the store's balcony.
It's also not clear what level of sophistication or experience most bookstores would have when it comes to matters of security. Although sports- figures-turned-book-authors and certain celebrity writers have been known to draw lines at book stores that curve down city blocks, the Sarah Palin experience (which has included fans who fly or drive from other states to camp out awaiting Palin's arrival) is a mob scene of a different nature.
Throngs of potential customers are, of course, always a happy prospect for retailers. But keeping a controversial political figure safe may prove to involve logistics of a whole different nature.
So far, "Going Rogue" has sold more than 1,000,000 copies and has now been on top of the New York Times bestseller list for two weeks. More than 700,000 copies were sold in the first week, putting Palin ahead of both President Obama, whose 2006 book "The Audacity of Hope" sold only 100,000 copies in its first week of release, and Hillary Clinton, whose "Living History" sold about 600,000 copies in 2003.
(Chapter & Verse readers are reminded that they can access the 12/8/09 Monitor Books podcast – including an interview with Colum McCann, author of "Let the Great World Spin" – either through iTunes or by clicking here.)