Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama announced Tuesday that they have each inked book deals with Penguin Random House — after a bidding war that topped $65 million.
Barack Obama’s book will be a “straightforward memoir about his presidency,” according to the Associated Press. Michelle Obama “plans to write an inspirational work for young people that will draw upon her life story,” the AP said, citing anonymous sources within the publishing world.
“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,” Random House CEO Markus Dohle said in a statement.
While the exact terms of the deal haven’t been released, the Financial Times reported that the Obamas will be paid at least $65 million — which appears to be an unprecedented advance for presidential memoirs (although details were not available on how much each author will receive individually). The previous record was held by Bill Clinton, who received $15 million for writing My Life from Knopf, according to the Guardian. (Clinton’s book wound up selling more than 1.2 million copies, CNN reported.)
We still don’t know the timeline of the books’ release or their titles. Of course, Obama was an acclaimed author before his presidency, having published a memoir, Dreams From My Father, in 1995 as well as a 2006 campaign book, The Audacity of Hope.
Michelle Obama has only published one book, American Grown, which was about food and gardening and the anti-obesity campaign she promoted as first lady. It was published in 2012.
Here’s the full release from Penguin Random House:
(February 28, 2017)— Penguin Random House is pleased to announce that it will publish forthcoming books by former President of the United States Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama. Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle announced today that the company has acquired world publication rights for two books, to be written by President and Mrs. Obama respectively. Terms of the agreement, in which the authors were represented by Robert Barnett and Deneen Howell of Williams & Connolly, were not disclosed.
In support of the mission of The Obama Foundation and Penguin Random House’s own commitment to social responsibility, the company will donate one million books in the Obama family’s name to First Book, a longstanding Penguin Random House non-profit partner and the Washington, DC-based partner for the 2016 White House digital education initiative, Open eBooks. First Book is dedicated to promoting equal access to education by providing new books, learning materials, and other essentials to children in need in the United States and Canada. Consistent with their past practice, the Obamas also plan to donate a significant portion of their author proceeds to charity, including the Obama Foundation.