Employees of a Barnes & Noble bookstore in midtown Manhattan began issuing wristbands, like those issued to ticket buyers at rock concerts, to buyers of her "Living History" at 8:30 a.m. for the 11 a.m. book signing.
The bookstore planned to give out 250 wristbands, but as the senator stayed on signing, hundreds more customers received autographed copies.
"It was very quick, in and out," said Krystal Powell, a Manhattan executive's assistant who had to wait more than two hours in line to see Clinton. "It was definitely worth it."
As the scheduled one-hour event stretched more than 2½ hours, passers-by hopped onto the end of the line, kept inside police barricades stretching around the corner.
Just before the signing, Clinton told reporters at a Manhattan hotel that her critics also could benefit from reading her memoirs.
"I think if people read the book with an open mind they may be surprised, they may learn a few things, they may decide that maybe they weren't given a full picture of what had gone on," Clinton said.
In spite of the limit on wristbands, the crowd kept growing on a line behind police barricades near a side entrance to the Fifth Avenue store. Those not issued wristbands still hoped they had a chance to meet the senator.
Barnes & Nobles' vice president of marketing, Bob Wietrack, predicted the memoir will be the chain's No. 1 nonfiction book of the year. Simon & Schuster, which agreed to pay Clinton $8 million, printed an astounding 1 million copies.
Richard Paice, a 36-year-old lawyer, decided on the spur of the moment to join the book signing line at 8:50 a.m.
"If you think about it, it's a historic moment. "She's one of the smartest people in modern political history."
He said he had no interest in reading the senator's reaction to the White House infidelities of her husband, President Bill Clinton. "It's difficult to get good people in public service. Why castigate them," Paice said.
In the book, Clinton revisits the public and private wreckage from her husband's affair with intern Monica Lewinsky. She concludes that what her husband did was morally wrong but not a betrayal of the public.
Barbara Walters's much-anticipated interview with the senator aired Sunday night on ABC. Clinton told Walters her marriage has "been tried and tested and we are at the point now that we're looking forward ... I hope that we'll grow old together."
Clinton's former press secretary Howard Wolfson says the book also revisits the policy battles of her husband's presidency.
"I think this book is going to make the case that the Clinton years were good years for this country, and this the Bush years have taken us backwards," Wolfson told the CBS News Early Show.
Time magazine is running excerpts from the book and an interview with Clinton. In the interview, she is asked if she plans to run for president in 2008, and answers: "I have no intention of running for president."
After Monday's event, Clinton will have two other signings during the week in Washington.
During the summer, she will sandwich more book-signing visits in between her Senate work schedule. Simon & Schuster spokeswoman Victoria Meyer said the company is not releasing the tour itinerary for logistical and security reasons.