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'Hands Across America' Book Is on the Way

May 28, 1986|ELIZABETH MEHREN | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — About one month after the historic linking of hands across the country, the official "Hands Across America" book will be published, commemorating what Pocket Books has dubbed "the world's largest participatory event."

Scheduled to be on sale June 25, the 8-by-10-inch trade paperback will be titled simply "Hands Across America" and will carry no single byline or attribution. After expenses, Pocket Books said that all proceeds of the nonprofit, $7.95 book will be donated to Hands Across America.

Pocket Books spokesman Roger Bilheimer said the book will be extensively illustrated with about 100 black-and-white photographs, and will be divided into three distinct sections of text.

Background and Impact

In the first section, journalist Joe Morgenstern will examine the background of "Hands Across America" as well as the projected impact of the event.

The second and largest section will consist of "representative personal experiences" of numerous participants, as told to more than 40 reporters and photographers around the country.

The final section will provide a scrapbook in which participants may include their own memorabilia and thoughts about the project.

In addition, as-yet-unnamed celebrity sponsors of "Hands Across America" are expected to contribute to the book.

Well before the actual event, the book was the joint brainchild of "Hands Across America" creator Ken Kragen, president of United Support of Artists for Africa, and Jack Romanos, president of the trade publishing group of Simon & Schuster Inc., Pocket Books' parent corporation.

Entertainment entrepreneur Kragen's book on personal management is scheduled for publication by Simon & Schuster and Pocket Books sometime in 1987.

Unprecedented Event

As a result of that relationship, Kragen invited Romanos to the initial unveiling of plans for the "Hands Across America" project, and at that time, the pair began discussing the possibilities of a book on what Kragen has consistently described as "an unprecedented nationwide event" uniting Americans on behalf of the hungry and the homeless.

Organizers of "Hands Across America" estimate that at least 6 million people--including President and Mrs. Reagan--joined hands for 15 minutes on Sunday in the project's 4,125-mile route. Final figures on money raised will not be available for months, but organizers were hoping to raise between $50 million and $60 million to help combat hunger and homelessness.

Said Romanos, commenting on his company's involvement in the effort, "We are enormously proud to be working with Hands Across America to create a book that can make a significant contribution in the fight against hunger in this country."

Described as a "major team effort," the one-month publication schedule is considered quick even by paperback standards. But Bilheimer stressed that the hasty production timetable "is in no way a reflection on the quality or the research in the book."

On Feb. 28, Pocket Books met a similar deadline when it published "Challengers: The Inspiring Life Stories of the Seven Brave Astronauts of Shuttle Mission 51-L" just one month after the Jan. 28 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.

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