Barack Obama broke records for publisher Penguin Random House with his memoir “A Promised Land.” It has sold more than 1.7 million copies in its first week.
On Wednesday, Penguin Random House announced that on its first day, Obama’s book sold 887,000 units in all formats and editions in the U.S. and Canada. This is Penguin Random House’s largest first-day sales total ever. On November 17, Obama’s memoir also broke the publisher’s one-week sales record with a total of 1,710,443 units sold after it was released.
Penguin Random House said that the hardcover edition of “A Promised Land” had 4.3 million copies in print in the U.S. and Canada after the initial printing of 3.4 million copies. It is the number one best selling book in the U.K. The book has been published in 20 languages and will be printed in six more.
While Mr. Obama’s book sales are quite impressive, his wife, Michelle Obama, set a high precedent with her memoir, “Becoming,” published in 2018. According to Bertelsmann SE, the German media and services conglomerate with a controlling stake in Penguin Random House, “Becoming” surpassed 10 million copies sold in 2019 — and those stats only include the company’s English, Spanish and German-language territories.
“I’m not aware, in my personal experience with Penguin Random House, that we ever sold 10 million units of a memoir,” chief executive Markus Dohle told The Wall Street Journal at the time.
The memoir’s history-making release was also followed by a sold-out tour. Penguin Random House reportedly made a more than $30 million deal with the Obamas for both of their books in 2017.
According to the publisher, Obama’s “A Promised Land” is the first book in a series of two. The release date for the second volume has yet to be announced.
In the memoir, Mr. Obama tells “the story of his improbable odyssey from a young man searching for his identity to the leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil,” according to Penguin Random House.