Why He Did It: My Interview with Eric Kampmann about the OJ book

by | Aug 17, 2007 | Book Marketing Basics

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Since the announcement earlier this week that Beaufort would publish If I Did It, I’ve spoken to Eric several times. I was very frank with him and told him that I didn’t understand why he’d take this kind of risk or, for that matter, why he’d publish this book. The answers to my questions are based on a fairly lengthy talk I had with Eric and subsequent interview. I’m beginning to see why he did it and understand what went on behind this process. I believe, above all, that Eric has put his heart and soul into this project. And regardless of how you feel about the book, I hope this interviews gives you some insight into what it’s like to be at the center of a firestorm. When I asked Eric about some of the attacks that have been waged against him he said to me: “I’ve been in this industry a long time and there’s nothing anyone can say that quite possibly hasn’t already been said before. I’m not, however, going to get down and sling mud with these people, I have a company to run and people who depend on me.”

My interview with Eric Kampmann, President of Beaufort Books:

Eric, clearly this book is controversial. Does the controversy surrounding this book bother you?

I probably underestimated the intensity of reaction generated by the announcement that Beaufort Books would be publishing If I did it, and I certainly did not anticipate becoming the spokesperson for the Goldman’s on national television as appeared yesterday. Actually my personal interchange with Denise Brown was very cordial. As for the controversy bothering me, I guess if I felt in my heart I was doing something wrong then I would be bothered because those objecting to the books would be speaking to my conscience. However, I feel that the Goldman’s voice has not been heard, and that the publication of this book will finally introduce truth as an element of this controversy.

This book was a nightmare for HarperCollins and Judith Regan got fired over this, doesn’t the history of this book worry you?

When that controversy hit late last fall, I silently voted with the majority of people who felt that it would be better for HarperCollins to withdraw the book and not publish it. Along with almost everyone else, I felt another injustice was being heaped on top of the original injustice by apparently rewarding OJ Simpson for the crime he had committed. So if the circumstances were the same, of course I would be worried. In fact, I would not be involved. However the circumstances have changed 180 degrees and so I am now worried about a whole different set of issues revolving mostly around packaging, printing and distributing the book.

If you take a hit personally or professionally because of taking on this work, does that concern you?

It does concern me because I am also the president of Midpoint Trade Books which has a sterling reputation for providing first-rate service to all of its publishers and which pays its publishers faithfully once a month. It’s quite remarkable that one writer Wendy Crisp, who knew me back in the 1980’s, has decided to smear my name for reasons that are totally unclear to me. For example, since founding Midpoint in 1996, we have produced sales for our publishers in excess of $125,000,000. We have had an excellent payment record and we are debt-free. Perhaps Wendy should update her files.

People might say that you’re not in this for altruistic reasons or to “catch a killer” what would you say to these people?

Almost everyone in a decision-making position in the publishing world knows that opportunities rise and fall very quickly. If you choose not to act on an opportunity normally someone else will step in. This particular project came upon us very quickly but it was based on an excellent relationship I had with the agent Sharlene Martin. Sharlene had come to know me and understood that as an entrepreneur, I could make a publishing decision quickly and honestly. After meeting on the phone with the Goldman’s and with Sharlene, I decided that their cause was just, the project was viable, and that the new circumstances meant that the book could now be reintroduced to the public. This in no way is similar to the situation HarperCollins and Judith Regan faced last fall. We strongly believe that the public should have an opportunity to make a judgment on their own as to the guilt or innocence of this man based on his own words.

Some have attacked your Christianity, how does that make you feel?

It’s interesting how some people believe that being a Christian makes life easy and resolves all of the normal conflicts other people will face. Nothing could be further from the truth. Christians and Christianity has always been under attack from the first century. There’s nothing new about this and if I am attacked for being a Christian, so be it.

You’ve said that you are doing this to help show that OJ did it, but the majority of the country already believes it. What is the real motivation behind this book?

It is my belief that the Goldman’s are seeking to reveal the truth above everything else.

Are you worried about opening old wounds with this or worried that somehow OJ will inadvertently make some kind of financial gain from this (purchasing copies and then reselling them autographed on eBay) – is anything being done to make sure that this book doesn’t end up working against the Goldman’s?

Based on the information I have, there is no way that OJ Simpson can financially benefit from the publication of this book. From the time I became involved in this book, everything being done has been strategic in nature. Once a book becomes public, the public has every right to buy the book or not buy the book, to comment on the book, to protest against the book, or to read the book and make a judgment on their own as to the rightness or wrongness of opening up this case once again. Once the bankruptcy court in Florida awarded the Goldman’s the book, they had a choice. That choice was to bury the book forever or to bring it to the market. Obviously they have chosen to take the second road. Time will tell whether they were right, but whatever the case, I am standing with them and believe that they have done the right thing.

In the end, what do you hope this book does?

I hope this book meets every expectation the Goldman’s have for it.

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  1. Elaine Secondo

    No reason to publish this book! It does Not help anyone and only causes more pain and hurt. You say you are a Christian? Not in my opinion for what you are doing.

    I’m sick of hearing about O.J. Simpson. He doesn’t deserve to even have his name published!

  2. sandie norton

    Are you that hard up for money that you publish a killers book? He has made a mockery of the court system and now he laughs at you and at the public as he has his confession printed. Wow, his kids should read about how he killed their mother. I don’t want to hear about him in financial woes since the murder took place, he should have thought about it as he carved his ex-wife up and her fiance, boyfriend (whatever). The blood of nicole is on your hands since you are publishing this disgusting and morbid book. Where is your descency? I guess the almighty dollar is all that matters to you. This book WILL bring you bad luck and nothing good of it can come out of it. I hope it bombs as a book and your company goes under financially. I will be sure I NEVER buy any book published by Beaufort Books and I will pass the word on to people. What can kill a company is “word of mouth”. Your company is very sick and warped.

  3. Eric Kampmann

    Sandie Norton: just so you know, money is always a consideration in business, but the primary reason we got involved here is because the Courts awarded the rights to the book in question to the Goldman Family. The father and sister of Ron Goldman want this book out for the public to judge the words of OJ Simpson. I totally agree with them and am pleased and honored to be involved in publishing this book.You do not need to buy it which is why this is a great country. Others may want to read this book and we are in the business of making it available to them.



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