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From small title to overnight bestseller

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It was a chance for both a small press and contemporary publishing technology to shine. On Friday, John McCain announced that Alaska governor Sarah Palin would be his running mate. Within minutes, the press was on to the fact that there is one – and only one – published biography of Palin.

That book is "Sarah: How a Small-Town Girl Turned Alaska's Political Establishment on Its Ear" by Kaylene Johnson, published by Epicenter Press.

Suddenly the tiny Epicenter Press in Kenmore, Wash., (founded by two Alaska journalists and specializing in books about the state) was overwhelmed. For six hours, their office phone system was so swamped that they were unable to make outgoing calls.

As of Friday, only 3,000 hardcover copies of the book were available. But thanks to Ingram's Lightning Source publishing-on-demand service, today 30,000 paperback copies of the book (with a revised title: "Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down") are expected to be shipped.

The book, which previously had sold only 8,00o copies, is now one of amazon.com's top 20 bestselling books and Kaylene Johnson is giving her own interviews.

Epicenter's other titles include multiple books about the Iditarod and the occasional piece of Alaskan fiction. Publisher Kent Sturgis apparently commissioned the Palin bio in 2006 after having a chance to meet her and determining that she was a character of interest.

"No matter what you think about her politics," Sturgis is reported to have said, "she's an interesting and an unusual politician."

As it turns out, quite a good call!


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