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Obamas Reportedly Set ‘Record for U.S. Presidential-Memoirs’ with New Book Deals

Former President Barack Obama and wife Michelle have both previously published books with Penguin Random House. (Wikimedia Commons)

Forthcoming books by Barack Obama and Michelle Obama will be published by Penguin Random House following a bidding war that reportedly ended in a deal of more than $60 million.

The publisher’s CEO, Markus Dohle, announced Tuesday, Feb. 28, that the company gained world publication rights for two books, which may or may not be memoirs, one written by the former president and the other by the former first lady.

“We are absolutely thrilled to continue our publishing partnership with [former] President and Mrs. Obama,” Dohle said in a release. “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 [former] President and Mrs. Obama to make each of their books global publishing events of unprecedented scope and significance.”

Penguin Random House, whose imprints have published other books by the Obamas, didn’t reveal the terms of the deal, but Financial Times reported an auction between several well-known book publishers rose above the $60-million point. The newspaper, which didn’t state the exact figure the Obamas received,  said it set “a record sum for U.S. presidential memoirs.” The Obamas’ reported deal is four times as much as Bill Clinton’s $15-million contract for his post-presidency title and more than eight times as much as George W. Bush’s $7-million deal. The agreement comes after reports said Barack Obama could earn as much as $20 million for a post-presidency memoir.

The exact Penguin Random House imprint on which the books will be released is unknown but the publisher has revealed it will donate one million books in the Obamas’ name to First Book, a nonprofit dedicated to providing new books to disadvantaged children and Open eBooks, an app containing thousands of books given free to children in underserved communities. The Obamas also will donate a “significant portion” of their writing proceeds to charities, including The Obama Foundation.

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