Barack Obama’s Memoir Breaks First Day Sales Record for Largest Publisher in the World

Former President Barack Obama’s new memoir has broken first-day sales records for the largest publishing house in the world.

A Promised Land, sold under the Penguin Random House imprint Crown, moved more than 887,000 units in the U.S. and Canada on Tuesday, the first day it was available for purchase, according to a Penguin Random House press release obtained by Newsweek.

“We are thrilled with the first day sales,” Crown publisher David Drake said in a statement. “They reflect the widespread excitement that readers have for President Obama’s highly anticipated and extraordinarily written book.”

The first-day sales figure outpaced the success of former first lady Michelle Obama, whose 2018 memoir Becoming sold 725,000 units on its first day before going on to sell more than 10 million copies despite never being released as a paperback. The former first couple reportedly signed a deal worth $65 million for publication rights to their memoirs in 2017, according to Publishers Weekly.

Obama Book Display
Copies of former President Barack Obama’s memoir “A Promised Land” are displayed for sale at a Barnes & Noble store in New York City on November 17, 2020.
Jamie McCarthy/Getty

A Promised Land is being marketed as the first volume of a two-book series of “presidential memoirs,” focusing on a period beginning with Obama’s earliest political aspirations and ending with the killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011.

“I want to give an honest reckoning of my time as president, the events and people that shaped those eight years,” Obama said in a video describing his goals in writing the book. “And give people some insight into the decision making process that we went through.”

“I’m also hoping that it gives people some idea about what it’s like to be president of the United States,” he added. “I’d like people to get a sense of what Michelle and I as a family, with our kids, went through in this big transition. Maybe most of all, I want to give young people, hopefully, some inspiration.”

The planned second volume of Obama’s presidential memoirs is likely to pick up where A Promised Land left off and explore the period leading up to him leaving the White House in January 2017.

Two nonfiction books previously written by Obama, Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope, were published in 1995 and 2006, respectively. Obama also authored a children’s book while living in the White House, Of Thee I Sing, which was published in 2010.

Although A Promised Land has not been out long enough to register on the current New York Times best-sellers list, it will likely feature prominently on next week’s list. The book currently sits atop Amazon.com’s list of best-sellers.

The first printing of the book includes 3.4 million copies in North America, with a retail price of $45. Millions more are being printed for sale in other countries, with plans to eventually release editions of the book in 26 different languages.

Newsweek reached out to the office of Obama for comment.

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