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Barnes & Noble to sell Simpson book in stores

Former NFL star and actor O.J. Simpson talks with reporters as he arrives for the funeral of attorney Johnnie Cochran in Los Angeles, April 6, 2005. Barnes & Noble, the world's largest book retailer, has decided to sell O.J. Simpson's book "If I Did It" in its stores, reversing an earlier decision to offer the controversial title only on the Web. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Barnes & Noble, the world’s largest book retailer, has decided to sell O.J. Simpson’s book “If I Did It” in its stores, reversing an earlier decision to offer the controversial title only on the Web.

“Our customers are asking for it. We have been monitoring pre-orders and decided we had enough” to put the book on retail shelves, company spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating said on Thursday.

“If I Did It,” in which the former U.S. football star offers a hypothetical account of his ex-wife’s murder, has caused a firestorm of controversy since it was revealed last November that Simpson worked with a ghostwriter to author it.

Simpson was acquitted of murder charges in 1995, but was later found liable for the killings in a civil trial and ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages to the victims’ families.

The original publisher scrapped plans for “If I Did It” after public outrage, and the family of Ronald Goldman, who was killed with Simpson’s former wife Nicole Brown Simpson in 1994, eventually won rights to the book in a court battle.

Last month, New York-based Beaufort Books partnered with the Goldman family to publish “If I Did It” because the publisher believes it will be seen “as a confession by many who will read it,” according to a statement from Beaufort.

The book is set for a September 14 release, and 150,000 copies will be printed, up from a previously planned 125,000 copies, according to a Beaufort spokeswoman.

Keating said Barnes & Noble originally believed demand would not be high enough to put the book in stores. But online pre-orders have risen more than expected and the book has been on the top 100 list at barnesandnoble.com.

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