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Barack Obama’s memoirs are set to set sales records

NEW YORK (AP) – The “Promised Land” of former President Barack Obama sold nearly 890,000 copies in the United States and Canada in the first 24 hours, making it on the track as the best-selling presidential memoir in modern history.

Sales for the first day, a record for Penguin Random House, include pre-orders, e-books and audio.

“We are excited about the sales on the first day,” said David Drake, publisher of Penguin Random House’s Crown print. “They reflect the wide-ranging excitement that readers feel about President Obama̵

7;s long-awaited and unusually written book.”

The only book by a former White House resident that comes close to the early pace of The Promised Land is the memoir of Obama’s wife Michelle Obama, whose “Rise” sold 725,000 copies in North America for the first day and exceeded 10 million. worldwide since its release in 2018, “Becoming” is still in high demand that Crown, which also publishes Obama and reportedly paid about $ 60 million for their books, has not yet released a paperback.

As of noon on Wednesday, “Promised Land” is No. 1 on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. James Down, CEO of Barnes & Noble, said the supermarket chain easily sold more than 50,000 copies on its first day and hopes to reach half a million in 10 days.

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“So far, it’s been a door and a door with Michelle Obama’s book,” he said.

By comparison, Bill Clinton’s My Life sold about 400,000 copies in North America on the first day, and George W. Bush’s Decision Points sold about 220,000, with sales for each memoir currently between 3.5 and 4 million copies. The fastest-selling book in memory remains JK Rowling’s seventh and final novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which came out in 2007 and sold more than 8 million copies in 24 hours.

Obama’s 768-page memoir, which came out Tuesday and has a $ 45 price list, had an unusually risky time for a book of such importance to the author, readers, and the publishing industry. It came out just two weeks after election day and could be overshadowed if the race was still in doubt or perhaps unwelcome by troubled Obama fans if President Donald Trump had defeated Democratic nominee Joe Biden. But Biden won, and his victory probably revived interest in an era when he was a trusted and popular vice president of Obama.

Obama himself admits that he did not intend the book, the first of two planned volumes, to arrive so close to the presidential election or take nearly four years after leaving the White House – months longer than My Life and two years longer. from Decision Points. In the August 2020 introduction to Promised Land, Obama wrote that “the book is constantly growing in length and scope,” as he finds that he needs more words than expected to capture a moment – commitment, which many authors understand well. He also worked in conditions he “did not fully expect,” from the pandemic to the Black Lives protests, to “the most disturbing of all,” how “democracy in the country seems to be balancing on the brink of crisis.”

Due to the pandemic, Obama will not go on Michelle Obama’s star tour for “Getting Up.” But he takes advantage of every memoir by a former president and especially Obama, who has a rare rise among politicians to write his own books and draw as much or more attention to how he tells a story than to the story itself. Obama has already written two acclaimed works that have sold millions, “My Father’s Dreams” and “The Courage of Hope,” which came out in 2006. His new book covers some of the same period of time as his previous ones, while continuing the story in the early 2 1/2 years since his presidency and the assassination of Osama bin Laden in 2011 by the SEALS fleet.

Weekly publishers praised the book as “memorable,” while other reviews were more qualified, calling the book too reflective of Obama’s thoughtful, even style. Jennifer Salay of the New York Times wrote that the “boldest thing” in The Promised Land is Obama’s “radiant portrait” on the cover. Carlos Lozada of the Washington Post noted that in “domestic politics and foreign affairs, in debates about culture and race, Obama divides differences, sticks to the environment and trusts the process as much as principle.”

“It turns out that he is not a ‘revolutionary soul’, but a reformist one, ‘conservative in temperament, if not in vision.’ Behind these dreams, audacity and everything it promises, there is a stubborn strip of moderation, “Lozada wrote.

Obama’s book is the highlight of the holiday publishing season, and for some independent bookstores, the potential difference is between staying in business or closing. Sales of publications were surprisingly stable during the pandemic, but much of the benefit went to Amazon.com as readers increasingly turned to online shopping. The American Booksellers Association, an independent retailer, has warned that hundreds of stores could stop working if holiday sales do not reach.

Kris Kleindienst, co-owner of Left Bank Books in St. Louis, expects to sell about 1,000 copies by the end of the year, a number that makes a “HUGE difference” in annual revenue, she wrote in an email. Sarah McNally, owner of McNally Jackson Books in Manhattan, said she sold about 600 copies in the first 24 hours, the pace being surpassed only by the latest Harry Potter book.

“It’s not difficult to be a bright place this year, a year in which we would go out of business without federal aid,” McNally said. “But Obama feels like a savior, as do our customers who buy this from us.”

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