'Paterno' book to debut at No. 1

Updated: August 30, 2012, 12:38 PM ET
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

The early returns are in and they're good for sales of Joe Paterno's new biography.

"Paterno," written by sportswriter Joe Posnanski, will debut at No. 1 on the New York Times hardcover non-fiction best-seller list this week, the book's publisher, Simon & Schuster, confirmed to ESPN.com. The Times itself, in a review written last week, said Posnanski "had the worst literary timing since Aldous Huxley," an English writer who died the same day as President John F. Kennedy was shot.

Posnanski set out to write the definitive book about the Penn State football coach long before Paterno became part of the sexual assault scandal that stripped him of his job and the honor of having his statue in front of Beaver Stadium. Because the appetite had changed on Paterno, it wasn't clear if Simon & Schuster would be able to recover its investment.

While the publisher didn't change its original print run of 100,000 copies, it did scale back some of Posnanski's publicity campaign and interviews so as not to put the author in an uncomfortable position.

Posnanski sat down with Bob Costas for an interview that aired on "Costas Now" on the NBC Sports Network on Wednesday night.

"It is as fair and honest of a book as I could write," he said to Costas. "But it doesn't hide from the fact that for 50 years people considered Joe Paterno a saint, and that for 50 years he was Sportsman of the Year and he was considered the best thing about sports."

In the interview, Posnanski acknowledged to Costas that he and the publisher thought about delaying the book, but that Paterno dying of lung cancer on Jan. 23 was a factor in its immediate publishing.

Posnanski also told Costas he thinks that "people who have written (bad) reviews, frankly, came in with the same opinion that they went out with."

Appearing at the top spot on the New York Times bestseller list doesn't mean that Simon & Schuster has recouped its investment from the book, though its investment might not be as much as people imagined.

Posnanski told Costas that the reported $750,000 advance he got for the book was high by a "substantial" margin.

"Paterno" beat out "Obama's America" by Dinesh D'Souza for the top spot.

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter

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