It's been the worst-kept secret in Ireland: U2 is coming Saturday to the country's biggest bookshop. The Dublin-rooted rock stars - Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen - are scheduled to sign copies of their band's first book, U2byU2 and thousands of fans are expected to mass on Dublin's major thoroughfare, O'Connell Street, for the event. But police and the bookshop, Eason's & Sons, decided they couldn't afford to permit people to line up for the chance to meet U2. So the band ran a lottery on its Web site and allotted other admission tickets through competitions on radio stations throughout Ireland.
Just 250 winning fans will be admitted as Eason's shuts down for five hours for the event.
"We had to close the store on crowd safety grounds," said Eason's general manager, Martin Black. "Had we gone ahead and opened it to the general public, we would get tens of thousands of people queuing outside. The whole of Dublin city centre would have been jammed. If we didn't keep the shop shut, then people would understandably refuse to leave."
Police said they also would erect crowd-control barriers outside the main Eason's bookshop on O'Connell Street, the major thoroughfare in the Irish capital.
Eason's has shut down for a book signing only once before, when former U.S. President Bill Clinton launched his autobiography in 2004. On that occasion, more than 3,000 lined the street outside, but Black said U2 was by far a bigger draw. "Bill was big, but Bono is bigger," he said.