Monday, May 20, 2024

For Millions More than the Clintons, Random House Will Publish Books by Barack Obama and Michelle Obama


Former president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have sold their memoirs to Penguin Random House, or what we used to call Random House.

There’s a suggestion that they were paid $60 million for the two books, but that seems a little excessive. In any case, they’ll be paid millions and gazillions, more than anyone. But the number isn’t so far off, since this worldwide rights, for hardcover, paperback and other media, forever and ever.

Of course, the books better be juicy, and filled with rich observations about the Obamas’ eight years in Washington, their relationships to the Clintons and Trumps, especially. For $30 million apiece, there will no soft shoe on any subject.

Random House is no stranger to this world. In 2001, they paid Bill Clinton $15 million for his memoir. But Hillary Clinton’s initial book after leaving the White House, called “Living History,” was published by Simon & Schuster in 2003. They paid Mrs. Clinton $8 million. It broke records.

So it’s instructive that the Random House group– rival to CBS’s Simon & Schuster– swept in and bought the books by both Obamas at once. It’s a smart move because Michele Obama has the potential to be a huge selling author. But also because CBS didn’t want to spend the money for S&S, even though that company has a rich history of publishing political tomes with editor Alice Mayhew.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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