Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Stephen Colbert hasn't been shy about using his mock talk show, ``The Colbert Report,'' to plug his own book, ``I Am America (And So Can You!).''
The branding of Colbert is an active industry. The Saginaw Spirit, a minor-league Michigan hockey team, named its mascot after him: Steagle Colbeagle the Eagle. Ben and Jerry's produced the flavor Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream (``a decadent melting pot of vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered waffle cone pieces and a caramel swirl'').
Last month, Colbert auctioned the plaster cast from his broken wrist on eBay Inc., garnering a winning bid of $17,200.
The book begins its exercise in arch right-wing smarm by pandering on the dust jacket: ``Congratulations, just by opening the cover of this book you became 25% more patriotic.'' There are satirical essays on cultural conservatism, a chart comparing the ``Jesus Train'' to the liquor ``Night Train,'' a list of ``things that are trying to turn me gay,'' and a photo of Colbert retching while reading the New York Times.
The big question is whether Colbert's book, which comes out Oct. 9, will outsell ``America (The Book)'' by fellow Comedy Central newscaster Jon Stewart. Grand Central, the publisher of both, thinks it might and is offering a first printing of 1.4 million copies -- just shy of the 1.5 million copies sold by Stewart.
Stewart, meanwhile, bagged Valerie Plame Wilson for his show. Her memoir, ``Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House,'' comes out on Oct. 22. Why not Colbert? ``This book just seemed better-suited to Jon,'' said Wilson's publicist, Elizabeth Mason, adding ``I don't think Valerie is going to be doing a lot of conservative media.''
With a first printing of 400,000 copies, Wilson's publisher, Simon & Schuster, will need more than Stewart's imprimatur to move books. Michael Persons, a bookseller at the Alabama Booksmith in Birmingham, thinks Plame will need to provoke a response from the Bush administration. ``That's the only way the book will last beyond one or two news cycles,'' Persons said.
Wilson will want to avoid another high-profile blond author making the media rounds, Ann Coulter. The conservative commentator's new, subtly titled ``If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans'' was released this week. Though Coulter seems to be slipping in popularity, her publisher, Crown, is counting on loyalists to snap up this best-of collection of Coulter quips and recent columns. The first printing is 600,000.
October also sees the return of novelist Alice Sebold. Her 2002 novel ``The Lovely Bones,'' featured a murdered narrator who observed events on Earth from the afterlife. It became a phenomenon in grieving post-9/11 America and sold 1.5 million copies.
Her new novel, ``The Almost Moon,'' due in stores on Oct. 16, also explores the psychology of murder and features a woman who commits matricide in the first pages. Publisher Little, Brown, confident that the grim story won't repel readers, is printing a whopping 750,000 copies.