Some controversy surrounds Tony Blair now that the British media got wind of his rather draconian rules for his forthcoming book signing, which takes place in London on September 8. The former British prime minister, who resigned from his post more than three years ago, will be in the Piccadilly branch of the bookstore Waterstones to promote his memoirs, A Journey. But beware: even if you buy a book, chances are you may never get it signed by the political heavyweight. We have the trade magazine and website The Bookseller to thank for revealing the strict guidelines that Blair's security team will enforce at the event.
If you want to have your photo taken alongside Blair, forget it. Likewise, using your mobile to take a picture: that's banned, too. Additionally, don't expect a personal dedication in your copy of A Journey, and be prepared to have your belongings checked into a holding area before getting anywhere close to the former PM. The rules also go on to say that members of the public who buy a book will be given a wristband to access the queue, but that doesn't necessarily guarantee a book signing.
Blair, who is the Middle East envoy for Britain as well as being the world's currently highest-paid public speaker, may be considered high-handed for what are perceived to be rather precious demands during his book tour, but one would expect high security for someone like a former PM. Not quite in the same league of global controversy, though, are Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Their aloof approach to their fans during a 2008 signing of their coffee-table book, Influence, seems a little more baffling.
For Olsen-twin fans, there were no fewer than nine rules revealed in an announcement, which also included this clarification: "Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen will be with us for a limited time. They will only be signing copies of their book" - that is, the twins would not be speaking, reading or taking questions. And for anyone who hadn't already been put off, there were further guidelines to abide by: "There is no photography allowed. You must put away your camera or cellphone before approaching the signing table [and the Olsens] will not sign any memorabilia or product other than Influence."
Still, all this pales in comparison with the mammoth demands that came with the former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin's attendance at an event for her 2009 book, Going Rogue: An American Life, at a Barnes & Noble store in the United States. One rule on the leaked 14-rule list, which was issued by the security detail at Bloomington, Minnesota's Mall of America - which later issued an apology to Sarah Palin, calling it "an internal miscommunication" - was the rather bizarre demand that "only English-speaking press attend the event".
Other gems include members of the public being charged to have photos taken alongside Palin; no mobile phones; no personalised dedications (we're beginning to see a pattern here); and no signing of any memorabilia - apart from the $29.99 Going Rogue, of course. Fans of the politician were given some reprieve, however, with permission to "leave the line to use the restroom or get food for a short period of time". Really, you spoil us.
As for Blair, we think it would be wise for him to take a page out of one of American crime novelist James Ellroy's books. Back in 1996, for the promotion of his memoir My Dark Places, Ellroy famously signed every single one of the 65,000 first-edition copies presented to him. And then there's the king of macabre, Stephen King, who once signed so many novels (at an event in Seattle) that his hands started to bleed. Ever the martyr, King continued to sign for his fans even after he began to ooze - precisely because they asked him to. Quite frankly, we're not sure which is weirder here: his fans asking, or King complying.
Regardless of how Blair handles his upcoming event, one thing's for sure: however coldly he treats his fans, there's little chance of his memoirs selling as badly as The Change We Choose, which was written by former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown - Blair's ever-so-brief successor. The book, which is a collection of speeches from Brown's two-year spell in power, has reportedly sold a meagre 32 copies in its four months of release.
Given Blair's reported £4.6 million fee from publisher Random House, we think Blair will have to sell quite a few more copies of A Journey.