Amanda Knox memoirs bidding war breaks out
A multi-million dollar bidding war has been launched for the memoirs of Amanda Knox, the American student convicted then cleared of murdering her British room-mate.
In a meeting with potential publishers, Knox was said to be self-assured and intelligent, quoting her favourite novels and describing her dreams of becoming a writer as she promised to deliver the truth about the death of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, five years ago.
The book, she is said to have disclosed, would provide a faithful account of the events leading up to and following the murder of Kercher, who was 21 when she was found with her throat cut after what prosecutors described as a sex game that went wrong.
Knox and her Italian then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito always denied taking part in the assault along with a third defendant, Rudy Guede, who pleaded guilty.
They were convicted to 26 and 25 years respectively, but freed on appeal in October after serving four years in prison. Sollecito is also now reported to be writing his memoirs.
Knox has attracted huge publicity on both sides of the Atlantic since the crime, with Americans largely viewing her as a victim while many in Britain and Italy asking whether she was a manipulative killer who got away with murder.
Her invitation to publishers to bid for her memoirs met with a similarly mixed response, with some saying they were reluctant to become involved with such a divisive figure.
Now 24, Knox has kept a relatively low profile since arriving back in her home town of Seattle, spending much of her time writing the book which is said to be based on diaries she kept in prison, and is expected to attract a seven-figure advance.
She is reported to have proved an impressive and charming figure in the meeting with publishers, editors and publicists to discuss her memoir.
One publisher who attended said: "Everybody fell in love with her." Others expressed reservations about bidding for the book however, saying that there were concerns about whether consumers would view Knox as a sympathetic figure.
"I think it's a huge gamble for somebody," one publisher who will not be taking part in the auction told the New York Times. "It's not like she has been exonerated in a clear and definitive way."
Kercher's father John said at the time of Knox's release that he considered the successful appeal "ludicrous". Asked about suggestions that she would be offered a lucrative book deal, he said he hoped Knox would not seek to cash in on his daughter's death.
Knox is represented by Robert B Barnett, a Washington-based lawyer who has overseen book deals for major figures including President Barack Obama, President George W Bush, President Bill Clinton and the singer Elton John.
Simon & Schuster, Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins are expected to be among those bidding for the memoir.
"The book will have very broad resonance," one publishing executive involved in the auction said. "The world has heard from everybody else, but the world has not actually heard from Amanda Knox."
To accompany any book deal, Knox would also be expected to take part in a high-profile television interview.
True story crime books are big business in the publishing world. The 2011 memoir A Stolen Life, by Jaycee Dugard, who was kidnapped at the age of 11 and held captive for 18 years, became one of the biggest sellers of last year.