Although neither the former first couple nor the company revealed how much the Obamas received, anonymous insiders told the Financial Times that bidding among publishing firms reached nearly $65 million for global rights to the titles. The same report, echoed by The New York Times and The Hollywood Reporter, indicates that they auctioned the rights jointly, with offers for the ex-president’s rights alone rising as high as $20 million. If the reports are true, then the offer exceeds Bill Clinton’s reported $15 million advance for his 2004 memoir, “My Life.” At the time, it was the largest publisher payment for an ex-president’s book to date.
Penguin Random House’s Crown imprint published three of the pair’s previous books: Barack’s “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream” and “Dreams From my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” and Michelle’s “American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America.” Penguin Random House did not confirm the future books’ genres, release dates or imprints.
“We are absolutely thrilled to continue our publishing partnership with President and Mrs. Obama,” said Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle in a statement published in Vanity Fair. “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.”