Barack and Michelle Obama Sign Book Deals
Financial terms were not disclosed, although the deals are likely in the tens of millions of dollars.
Barack and Michelle Obama have book deals.
The former president and first lady have signed with Penguin Random House, the publisher announced Tuesday. Financial terms were not disclosed, although the deals are likely in the tens of millions of dollars.
Earlier reports had the bidding above $60 million. The record for a presidential memoir is the $15 million that Bill Clinton got after leaving office in 2000.
One unique aspect of the deal: a promise to donate 1 million books in the Obama family’s name to First Book, which is dedicated to promoting educational opportunity via new books to children in need. First Book is a longtime Penguin Random House nonprofit partner and the Washington-based partner for the 2016 White House digital education initiative Open eBooks.
Per the publisher’s announcement, the Obamas also plan on donating a “significant portion” of the book deal to charity, including the newly established Obama Foundation.
Both Obamas have published books through Crown, a Penguin Random House imprint.
"We are absolutely thrilled to continue our publishing partnership with President and Mrs. Obama," Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle said in a statement. "With their words and their leadership, they changed the world, and every day, with the books we publish at Penguin Random House, we strive to do the same. Now, we are very much looking forward to working together with President and Mrs. Obama to make each of their books global publishing events of unprecedented scope and significance."
The unusual dual arrangement is for books that are among the most anticipated in memory from a former president and first lady. Barack Obama is widely regarded as the one of the finest prose stylists among recent presidents, having written the million-selling Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope. Michelle Obama has given few details about her time as first lady: Her only book is about food and gardening, American Grown, released in 2012. Both Obamas are widely popular with the public in the U.S. and abroad.
The Obamas were represented by Williams & Connolly partners Robert Barnett and Deneen Howell. Barnett has been the go-to guy for politician book deals for a generation. (He also has helped with Hillary Clinton's debate prep for years, often playing the opposing candidate.) Barnett and Howell charge by the hour for legal services instead of taking the standard literary agent commission, potentially saving the Obamas upwards of $9 million in fees.
The publisher did not immediately say which imprint the books would be released through. Titles, publishing dates and other details about the books also were not immediately available.