11.17.10

Palin's Blockbuster Book Tour

The former governor’s new book, America By Heart, is out next week and bookstores and fans are already preparing for the rush of people when she appears. Shushannah Walshe on how to snag your autographed copy.

Sarah Palin’s 16-stop book tour for America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag kicks off next Wednesday and although shorter than her last tour ( Going Rogue was 35 cities) stores are expecting equally massive crowds.

Publisher HarperCollins says Palin will be traveling by plane, as she did last year and they—not SarahPAC—are in charge of all planning on the tour and each store is in charge of giving out tickets to book buyers at each location.

So, how do you get in when hundreds or maybe even thousands of your neighbors are also trying to get their Christmas presents signed? Here’s some insight to beat out the competition.

The tour starts on November 23 in former running mate John McCain’s hometown of Phoenix, Arizona at a Barnes & Noble at 6 p.m. But, don’t get there in the afternoon hoping to get a book signed. The store opens at 9 a.m. and people will be able to purchase the book then and receive a wristband that signifies where in line you’ll be placed starting at 4 p.m. Think you can get there at 8 a.m.? Another no. The store expects Palin fans to start lining up as early as 5 a.m. to get their book.

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HarperCollins says press is welcome at all stops on the tour, but two that will generate the most attention will undoubtedly be the stops in the first caucus state of Iowa: Des Moines and Spirit Lake. Lynn Estrem, manager of the West Des Moines Borders, said judging from previous events (the city is a must stop for all potential presidential candidates with a book out) they are expecting 600 people to come and get their book signed. He said HarperCollins is sending them wristbands and they require a press area to be set up at the event.

Another early state stop: the Books-a-Million in Columbia, South Carolina at 6 p.m. The home of newly elected mama grizzly, Nikki Haley, is hosting the final announced event on December 3. The store is expecting a stunning turnout of 3,000 supporters eager to buy America by Heart and see its author. But, Books-a-Million is not giving out wristbands until after 5 p.m., so South Carolina fans should plan to get there early and get ready to make friends with thousands of fellow South Carolinians in line.

Earlier that day, Palin will hit a Kroger grocery store in Cincinnati. Martha Shepard in customer service stressed that they were told that Palin will only have time to sign 500 books at her 11 a.m. stop, but they are expecting a large crowd because they “have been getting phone calls constantly.”

The tour is scheduled around the busiest Christmas shopping days of the year including Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. After a two day break for the holiday, Palin will make a stop at Mardel, a Christian bookstore in Tulsa on November 26 at 6 p.m. Shannon Brown, who does marketing for the chain, said they are “very excited” to host the former Alaska governor, but acknowledges there are “pros and cons” to an event the day after Thanksgiving because people will want to shop, but may not want to wait in line. And if you do want to spend your Thanksgiving day in the parking lot, Brown said they will be prepared if people start lining up the day before as many eager fans did on Going Rogue tour stops. They are even providing port-o-potties to the faithful.

Brown is expecting a huge turnout of between 2,000 and 3,000 book buyers. “We will see, but the book will only be a few days old so sales will be good or really I think it will be well (attended) because of who it is,” she said. Brown said they are excited to give Palin her “first Mardel experience” and they actually approached the publisher when they heard about the second tour to see if Palin could stop at one of their stores. Their wish was granted.

As she did on her last tour, Palin will be ending in her home state. So Last Frontier fans sit tight: She’ll be back home last, and you’ll be able to get your book signed then.

Shushannah Walshe covers politics for The Daily Beast. She is the co-author of Sarah From Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative Superstar. She was a reporter and producer at the Fox News Channel from August 2001 until the end of the 2008 presidential campaign.