Well, that vacation didn't last long: after a multi-publisher bidding war, Barack and Michelle Obama have sold the rights to their next books to Penguin Random House for a sum that has reportedly passed $60 million, according to a report by the Financial Times. (They will be writing separate books, but the rights were sold jointly.) As far as past and present presidential book deals go, this one’s a biggie: it surpasses previous records set by George W. Bush's reported $7 million deal and Bill Clinton's reported $15 million dollar advance.
“We are absolutely thrilled to continue our publishing partnership with President and Mrs. Obama,” Penguin CEO Markus Dohle said in a statement, according to The Associated Press. “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.” The publisher added that they would aim to “make each of their books global publishing events of unprecedented scope and significance.” And what more would you expect from a former president who believed, as Nathan Heller wrote in December, so fully in the power of “what artful sentences can do?”Obama has always had literary leanings—occasionally even to his detriment, according to his critics. Among his last events at the White House was an informal lunch with his favorite authors (Dave Eggers, Colson Whitehead, Zadie Smith, Junot Diaz, and Barbara Kingsolver), after which he gave an interview to the New York Times about his reading habits, after which its author, Michiko Kakutani, wrote: “Not since Lincoln has there been a president as fundamentally shaped—in his life, convictions, and outlook on the world—by reading and writing as Barack Obama.” His critically lauded first book, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, was published in 1995 and re-released in 2004, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream was published in 2006 and was on the New York Times bestseller list for 30 weeks. (He also wrote a children’s book, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, in 2010.) Is it too soon to place a pair of pre-orders?