Poynter’s 9-11 Book Raises $250,000

By: Ana Mantica

The Poynter Institute of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Andrews McMeel Publishing (AMP) of Kansas City, Mo., today donated $250,000 from sales of their surprising best-selling book September 11, 2001 to the September 11th Fund. This is the first check from all profits and royalties from the book, a compilation of newspaper front pages which Poynter collected.

On The New York Times best-seller list for nine weeks, the book reached the No. 5 spot this week in the non-fiction paperback category. About 80,000 copies have been sold since November.

AMP estimates that $4 of every copy sold to booksellers will be available for donation to the charity. The list price is $14.95.

The book first began as an online gallery at poynter.org. After the terrorist attacks, Poynter officials decided to display newspaper front pages on their Web site just as they had done previously with the 2000 presidential election. “We found that people were really interested with how newspapers had done their front pages on a day like that,” said Bill Mitchell, Poynter’s online editor and marketing director.

Collecting front pages from extra editions and from Sept. 12 papers, Poynter.org soon had several hundred front pages posted on their Web site. “We had to shift the pages to another server in Tampa to handle the traffic,” Mitchell said.

But no one had thought of compiling a book until a visitor to the Web site suggested it. “On Thursday, Sept. 13, we got an e-mail from someone saying ‘So when’s the book coming out?'” Mitchell said. “And I called the people at AMP and ran the idea by them. And they liked it.”

Officials at Poynter and AMP decided to market the book to the general public, instead of limiting it to journalists — though the foreword by former New York Times Executive Editor Max Frankel has a powerful appeal to the journalism community. “As we watch the sales of it, clearly it resonates with people generally,” Mitchell told E&P. “People, readers, citizens obviously have a deep interest, not only in the events of the day, but in the way newspapers covered it.”

Poynter had to narrow the selection from over 400 front pages to 145. In selecting newspapers for inclusion in the book, Poynter tried to keep conscious several factors, including different sized papers, geographic spread, and the use of both front pages from cities with two newspapers. They also tried to include international papers, but Mitchell said they were unable to get any Arab-language newspapers.

AMP, Poynter, the Associated Press, and all newspapers involved will donate all royalties and profits from the book to The September 11th Fund, launched by the United Way and The New York Community Trust. The AP is involved because its photos appeared on many of the front pages. Booksellers are also encouraged to donate their markup.

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