All hell broke loose at the Hachette Book Group building last week when The New York Times published a story detailing some of the most newsworthy bits contained in the late Ted Kennedy’s forthcoming memoir, True Compass. A spokeswoman for the paper said Times reporters had purchased multiple copies of the book at a bookstore the day before, and, much to the chagrin of Twelve publisher Jonathan Karp and his publicity director, Cary Goldstein, quickly broke the strict embargo that the imprint had tried to impose on it. The trouble was, of course, that the $8 million memoir wouldn’t be hitting stores for another 11 days, and all the publicity generated by the Times piece—not to mention the glowing review by Michiko Kakutani that ran the following day—was likely to confuse and frustrate customers who went looking for it in the meantime.
Furious that copies of True Compass had gotten out despite clear instructions to booksellers not to display them before the on-sale date, officials at Hachette have taken the rare step of hiring a private investigator to look into how the leaks occurred. Hachette corporate spokeswoman Sophie Cottrell confirmed that a P.I. was on the case, but would not elaborate on his or her identity or specific objective.