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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — What has more than 900 pages, regularly costs $35, mentions Monica, Hillary and Newt, and can’t be bought at most U.S. military bases in the Pacific?

“My Life,” Bill Clinton’s new memoir, which has broken sales records nationally, quickly sold out this week from Yokosuka’s Navy Exchange, Yokota Air Base’s exchange, Yongsan Garrison’s post exchange and Kunsan Air Base.

That wasn’t a complete surprise: Most stores received small numbers of the book.

Yokosuka NEX manager Dave Thompson was surprised when, after researching the matter, found that his NEX, the largest overseas Navy store in the world, received only 29 copies in its first shipping. “Twenty-nine copies — for us, that’s pretty low. I would have looked more for 120 copies,” he said.

The main store at Yongsan Garrison in South Korea ordered 30 copies, and all are sold out; Camp Foster’s Okinawa bookstore sold all 40 copies; Yokota BX also sold out 40 copies; Atsugi Naval Air Facility’s bookstore has one of 20 copies left and Camp Zama’s bookmart has half of its 20 copies left.

People at Navy Exchange headquarters primarily decide what books, and how many, to send to its stores, Thompson said. The largest exchange, in Pearl Harbor, did not, however, sell the most Clinton memoirs, according to an NEX memo: the book has sold best in the San Diego NEX, which had sold 129. Navy-exchange-wide, 922 copies of the book have been sold since its release June 22. “Our headquarters was very happy with the book,” Thompson said.

Thompson said local book vendors have ordered more copies, which should arrive sometime within the next two weeks.

New shipments of books and magazines arrive each Friday, he said, and workers have brought “more urgency” to getting things on the selves faster.

It was unclear why the stores received such small numbers of the book. AAFES Okinawa spokeswoman Air Force Sgt. 1st Class Amanda Glenn said she’d been told the problem “was at the publisher’s end.” That could not be immediately confirmed.

The Clinton autobiography has been likened to another publishing sensation, the Harry Potter books. Thompson said the Yokosuka NEX got about 240 copies of the most recent Harry Potter, and anticipated huge sales based on how swiftly the previous Harry Potter book had sold. But the new Harry Potter didn’t exactly fly off the shelves.

The Yokosuka NEX sold out of another best-seller, “The Da Vinci Code,” then ordered more copies, which didn’t sell as well.

The Clinton book was expected to be a hit, but sales have exceeded expectations, Paul Bogaards, executive director of publicity, promotion and media relations for publisher Alfred A. Knopf, told United Press International. In two weeks, 1.25 million copies were sold, Bogaards said.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
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