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Originally published November 6, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 6, 2008 at 11:24 AM

Live inauguration coverage: AP | Washington Post | KUOW


Readers rush to buy papers as history keepsakes

In this Twittering, podcasting, digital age, the morning after America's presidential election found thousands of people clamoring for something more old-fashioned and tangible: extra copies of the morning paper.

Selling history

Thomas Baldwin has 10,000 reasons to believe he can profit from President-elect Obama. The Birch Bay, Whatcom County, resident, on Wednesday bought 10,000 copies of The Bellingham Herald's election wrap-up edition — at a cost of $5,000. "I sat there thinking about that, and I thought, 'You know, what the heck, maybe there's a market for it,' " said Baldwin, 67, noting he'll wrap them in plastic and store them.

The Bellingham Herald

NEW YORK — In this Twittering, podcasting, digital age, the morning after America's presidential election found thousands of people clamoring for something more old-fashioned and tangible: extra copies of the morning paper.

Newsstands from Seattle to New York quickly sold out of papers declaring Barack Obama the nation's first black president as some jubilant customers picked up two, three or even 30 copies as keepsakes.

"You can't put a computer screen into a scrapbook," said Joyce Mutcherson-Ridley, 56, an office manager who went to The Washington Post's downtown headquarters Wednesday only to learn the paper's first printing had sold out.

The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune in Obama's hometown were among papers that restarted their presses to produce hundreds of thousands of additional copies across the country.

Entrepreneurs were seeking more than $600 for The New York Times on eBay on Wednesday.

The Seattle Times, which printed about double the number of copies normally done for newsstands and news racks, sold out Wednesday morning, said Corey Digiacinto, communications manager for The Seattle Times Co.

"We started hearing from our retailers and newsstand locations at about 8 a.m. ... wondering if there were any additional copies," she said.

She added that "while we don't have a stash of copies," the newsroom is producing posters and T-shirts of Wednesday's front page. Details will be published in the paper, she said.

Some papers devoted their entire front pages to a single photo of Obama. In the San Francisco Chronicle's case, it was overlaid with "OBAMA" in enormous type and a snippet from his acceptance speech: "Change has come to America." USA Today declared, "America makes history."

The Plain Dealer in Cleveland offered high-quality reprints of the front page for $54.95. Below the headline "Change Has Come," a close-up of Obama is three-fourths of the page.

Say what you want about the Internet replacing printed newspapers, but saving a copy of a Web page on a disk isn't the same.

"What it really shows is there's a unique value to print," said Steve Hills, The Washington Post's president and general manager. "It's the ability to look at the whole thing and have a piece of history in your hands."

"You can't show your children your BlackBerry or your computer screen," said Merwyn Scott, 39, a lobbyist who covered papers in plastic wrap against the drizzle after waiting in line outside The Post for more than an hour. "In 30 years, my children will be able to touch and feel these papers when I tell them all about this historic day."

In Miami's predominantly black Liberty City, newspapers were sold out at stores all along Martin Luther King Boulevard, where residents wore Obama T-shirts and waited for buses on corners with hand-painted quotes from the civil-rights leader.

"I've got to put this in a frame because this is history," Larry Johnson said as he searched for a newspaper cover of Obama.

New York Times executives decided to print an additional 75,000 copies for sale in New York as vending machines and retail stores sold out by midmorning.

The Tribune restarted its presses for an extra 200,000, 10 times more than the increase it had planned. The Washington Post decided at midday to publish 350,000 copies of a slimmed-down commemorative edition.

The Los Angeles Times ran 40,000 extra copies, sold them all and began printing a second run of 30,000. In Atlanta, Journal-Constitution workers set up tables on the street to sell three extra printings: 40,000, then 60,000 and then a last run of 50,000.

In Philadelphia, vendors said the election issue was selling better than the commemoration for the Philadelphia Phillies' recent World Series championship.

Washington, D.C., newsstand vendor Tony Portillo refused a tempting offer. "I got a guy who wanted to buy the whole bundle," Portillo said. "I said, 'I can't sell it. I have more people coming. I'll sell you five.' "

Information from the Los Angeles Times and Seattle Times staff is included in this report.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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