By JULIE BOSMAN
In person, Amanda Knox came across as soft-spoken, smart, almost scholarly, naming literary novels that she found moving. She said it was a longtime dream of hers to be a writer. And her book, she told the publishers, editors and publicists who listened raptly, would be the true and unvarnished story of what happened in Perugia, Italy.
“Everybody fell in love with her,” said one publishing executive who attended a meeting, echoing the sentiments of a range of people who have met Ms. Knox recently to discuss publishing her memoir.
Her personal charm aside, however, Ms. Knox’s story is complex, disturbing and still hotly debated by an American public that loves to take sides when it comes to did-she-or-didn’t-she crime tales.
This makes the next step trickier for publishers vying this week for the rights to her memoir, whose blockbuster allure has a backdrop of unsettling details: Ms. Knox was arrested in 2007 in the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, in what prosecutors described as a sex escapade gone wrong, spent nearly four years in an Italian prison and was exonerated last October after an appeals court overturned the original conviction.
The surge of media attention that will surely accompany the book’s release — normally good for publishers — comes with risks. To some members of the public, Ms. Knox was an innocent abroad who was imprisoned for a crime she did not commit. To others, she is a cunning femme fatale who got away with murder.
And that brings some difficult questions: do book-buying Americans see Ms. Knox as a sympathetic figure? And if the book commands a seven-figure advance, as is widely expected, will it be worth it?
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