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.