Former senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Former senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Credit: AP / Cliff Owen

Staff at the storefront Books & Books along Main Street in Westhampton Beach had just five days to prepare for Hillary Rodham Clinton and the estimated 800 people who showed up Sunday to have copies of her new book, "Hard Choices," signed by the former secretary of state.

Clinton's signing drew the "biggest" crowd the shop has ever seen, co-owner Denise Berthiaume said.

"We got into our rhythm and I think it worked really well," said co-owner Jack McKeon. "Everybody had a moment with the secretary . . . you can't beat that."

During a visit from Clinton's literary agent Bob Barnett, who was "perusing" the history section two weeks ago, McKeown told him of the shop's efforts over the past six months to land the South Fork village as one of Clinton's stops on her book tour.

The store -- which touts regular notable shoppers such as journalist Anderson Cooper -- has hosted numerous author signings since its opening in June 2010, but Clinton was the first politician, said Berthiaume, who is married to McKeown.

"I told Bob that we've been trying to get your gal here for six months," McKeown said. "Then we got the call Monday at 5 p.m. that she was coming."

While Clinton was signing books with longtime aide and confidant Huma Abedin by her side, representatives from Ready for Hillary -- a super PAC based in Rosslyn, Virginia, aimed at fundraising and influencing Clinton's decision to run for president in 2016 -- were outside combing the sidewalks for supporters.

"We're trying to collect as many signatures as we can so while Hillary makes her decision, she can see how many people really are behind her and would vote for her," said Sean England, a communications associate for the group.

England says group members attend each of Clinton's book signings and it has so far gathered thousands of signatures.

Eager to meet the former first lady who also served as Democratic U.S. senator from New York, Beverly Perkowski, 61, of Northampton said she purchased two books, one for herself and another to send to her daughter-in-law in Portland, Oregon.

"She's such a good role model for my two granddaughters," Perkowski said of the girls, ages 6 and 8. "After all that she's been through as a woman, she's very strong. She's been around the block a few times."

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