Barack and Michelle Continue to Rule: Bidding War for Obama Memoirs Reaches More Than $60,000,000

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Barack and Michelle Obama are still in the hearts and minds of many Americans. We miss their presence and their spirit. We cry over their absence in the White House, especially given what we’ve been left with. We long for any tidbit of news we can get about them.


Apparently, publishers also long to have a piece of the Obamas, because Financial Times reports that the global rights to two books by Barack and Michelle are up for bid in a “blockbuster auction” that has reached more than $60 million, which is a record sum for presidential memoirs.

The Obamas are writing their memoirs separately but selling them jointly.

Penguin Random House, which published Barack’s three previous books; HarperCollins; Simon & Schuster; and Macmillan are all reported to be looking to buy the books by the former president and first lady.


Penguin Random House is reportedly in the lead with the bidding, and an announcement of the winning bid is expected any day now.

Neither Penguin Random House nor Barack Obama’s literary agent, Robert Barnett, nor a spokesman for the former president wanted to comment on the auction.

From Financial Times:

The sum offered would eclipse other book deals secured by departing presidents. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House, paid $15m for the rights to Bill Clinton’s 2004 memoirs My Life when he left the White House, while George W Bush made an estimated $10m from his book Decision Points, which was published by Crown.

One executive from a publisher interested in acquiring the rights, who asked not to be named, said that while Penguin Random House had made a “big move” to secure the books, other publishers were watching the situation closely before deciding their next steps. “It’s live,” the executive added.

Mr Barnett has become a power player for politicians seeking big book deals. He brokered Tony Blair’s £4.5m contract with Penguin Random House, which is jointly owned by UK education group Pearson and Bertelsmann, the German media company. Pearson last month said it had exercised an option to sell its stake in the company; discussions between the two sides are said to be ongoing.


The Obamas have maintained a low profile since leaving the Oval Office. Photographs surfaced of the former president kiteboarding with Sir Richard Branson, and the couple sent cute tweets to each other on Valentine’s Day, but other than a much-celebrated sighting of Barack in New York last week, the beloved couple has been virtually off the radar.


Whichever publishing house wins the rights to the books is guaranteed to make a mint off of sales.

According to Financial Times, Barack Obama earned $8.8 million for The Audacity of Hope and the children’s book Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters. His first memoir, 2004’s Dreams From My Father, earned him $6.8 million.


Read more at Financial Times.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.

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