Monday, August 25, 2008

The Snowball Is Preparing To Roll

Saturday's Wall Street Journal had an article by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg on the forthcoming book about Warren Buffet titled The Snowball.

According to the author, the title is based on a comment by Buffet: "Life is like a snowball. The important thing is finding wet snow and a really long hill."

The WSJ says Bantam "paid $7.2 million for the North American rights and expects to sell more than 1 million hardcover copies of The Snowball, which is due out September 29."

Alice Schroeder, author of the biography, met Buffett about ten years ago when she was an analyst at Paine Webber reporting on Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett's company. He reportedly gave her access to his personal files and correspondence and a letter of introduction to his friends.

However, it appears that Buffett will not be publicizing the book. According to The Journal:
A person familiar with the situation says Mr. Buffett was initially upset about some of the content. The issue has to do with his first marriage. Mr. Buffett's first wife, Susan, left him and moved to San Francisco in 1977. The two, however, never divorced, and with his wife's encouragement, Astrid Menks, a waitress at the French Cafe in Omaha, eventually moved in with Mr. Buffett. She later married him following Susan's death in 2004.
Buffett and Menks, who was born in Latvia, married on his 76th birthday in 2006. This coming Saturday when he celebrates his 78th birthday, they will have been together for 30 years. She is 62.

A spokesman for Buffett said it wasn't true that he isn't going to do a junket tour for the book because he was upset about material included. The WSJ article says:
Ms. Schroeder acknowledges that Mr. Buffett disagreed with some of what he read in the manuscript but says he didn't ask her to delete anything. She adds that she has 'multiple sources for everything of any significance in my book'.
Ms. Schroeder says her goal was to show the entire man, not merely one aspect of him.

Bantam is going to have to sell an awful lot of books to make a profit on this book. I have always admired Mr. Buffett and will probably buy a copy.

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