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Bidding for books by former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama has topped $60 million, according to a report in the Financial Times.
The figure is for one memoir from each, written separately. The Hollywood Reporter had previously reported that bidding on a solo book from President Obama alone would likely top $20 million, besting the record $15 million Bill Clinton received after he left office in January 2000.
Most of the major publishers are said to still be in the hunt, including Penguin Random House, which published Obama’s three previous books, and HarperCollins, owned by conservative Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Penguin Random House is said to be the favorite, as THR reported was likely to be the case.
The Obamas are represented by Washington super-lawyer Robert Barnett, who has negotiated deals for every major Washington player (including the Clintons and the Bushes) for the last generation. Deneen Howell, another partner at Barnett’s firm of Williams & Connolly, is handling the sale with Barnett.
One advantage of using Howell and Barnett is that they charge by the hour as opposed to the standard agent’s commission, meaning the Obamas will pay at most a few hundred thousand in legal fees versus a commission that could run to upwards of $9 million.
Barnett, an Obama spokesperson and publisher’s representatives all declined comment to the Financial Times.
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