NEW YORK — Times Books announced here Wednesday--just 24 hours after release of the congressional committees' report on the Iran-Contra affair--that it will publish an abridged version of the report, which lays "ultimate responsibility" for the scandal in the hands of President Reagan.
The 352-page, $9.95 trade paperback, to be compiled by reporters from the Washington bureau of the New York Times, will be in bookstores in December, thus amply qualifying it as a "semi-instant" book, Times Books associate publisher Sandee Brawarsky said.
Jonathan B. Segal, vice president and editorial director of Times Books, estimated a first-run printing of 25,000 copies for "A New York Times Special: Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair." By contrast, Times Books and Bantam Books co-published 550,000 copies of the Tower Commission Report, which led to the Iran-Contra hearings. The Tower Report spent four weeks in the No. 1 spot on the New York Times best-seller list.
"I don't expect this one to do anywhere near as well," said Segal, conceding that "serious nonfiction books do not always sell in huge numbers." But "that doesn't mean we shouldn't publish them," said Segal, who called the 690-page, 9x12-inch Government Printing Office version of the investigating committees' report unwieldy, and, at $29, expensive.
"I think it's important to publish important public documents and make them accessible," Segal said. "If we win some, we win some. If we lose, we lose."