Cover Stories: BookExpoAmerica; Arianna Huffington and others

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The Independent Culture

BookExpoAmerica, in Washington this week, is bigger by far than its London counterpart and really does feel like a fair. Just watching booksellers filling carts with proofs and waiting in line for a signed copy (sometimes with an eye solely on ebay) is a sight to behold. Both fairs are owned by Reed Exhibitions and, fresh from his victory in London over Frankfurt, its director Alistair Burtenshaw was taking larger US bookings for Earls Court next spring. Politicians were signing copies of manifestos: among them Gary Hart, one of many presidential candidates undone by an inability to keep his trousers done up. Edward Kennedy had a kids' book on the workings of Washington. And Illinois senator Barack Obama (above), tipped as a future Democratic contender, has written about race, hope and inheritance in the US.

* Born-again liberal Arianna Huffington offered a book of advice for women - not least Hillary Clinton. Doro Bush Koch, sister of W and Jeb, will write about her father, the first President Bush. And Cindy Sheehan, the focus of anti-Iraq protest, drew a warm reception. Her memoir Peace Mom is an account of what it means to bury a son as the result of an unjust war.

* Among the big-name writers in Washington were Monica Ali, Richard Ford and William Boyd, who's hoping that Restless, a story of wartime espionage, will break through for him in the US. New writers likely to hit the headlines include Yale law professor Jed Rubenfeld: this autumn Headline has his classy crime debut, The Interpretation of Murder. The story, richly evocative of early 20th-century Manhattan, takes its cue from Sigmund Freud's visit to the city in 1909.