Former President Barack Obama’s “A Promised Land” topped the USA TODAY Best-Selling Books list by selling more than 1.7 million copies in North America in its first week, roughly equal to the combined first week sales of memoirs by his two immediate predecessors and among the highest ever for a nonfiction book. Sales also included audio and digital books.
“A Promised Land” charts Obama’s path to the White House up to 2011 and the killing of Osama bin Laden. In it, the 59-year-old former president reflects on his legacy, and the space between his presidential ambitions and the political reality of a Republican-controlled House and Senate that hampered them.
The book, which is the first of two planned volumes, was published Nov. 17 and sold nearly 890,000 copies just in its first day. It’s publisher Crown announced Tuesday that it had increased its initial print run from 3.4 million copies to 4.3 million.
The former president isn’t the first Obama to break publishing records.
Former first lady Michelle Obama’s 2018 memoir “Becoming” sold 725,000 copies on its first day and more than 1.4 million copies in its first week of release, becoming one of the fastest-selling nonfiction books in history. It has since sold 10 million copies worldwide and is still so in demand that Crown, which publishes both Obamas and reportedly paid around $60 million for their books, has yet to release a paperback.
Published in the same week of November in 2018, “Becoming” would go on to become the bestselling book of 2018. Impressive since it was only on the bestsellers list for seven weeks. It would also become the top selling nonfiction book for 2019 as well.
Obama also authored two other bestselling memoirs “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream” (2006) and “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance” (1995) as well as the bestselling 2010 children’s book, “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters”
Previous bestselling presidential memoirs include George W. Bush’s “Decision Points,” debuted at No. 2 in 2010 on the list and sold 775,000 copies its first week. It would eventually reach No. 1 and remain at the top spot for five weeks. As well as Bill Clinton’s “My Life,” which debuted at No. 1 in 2004, and remained for two weeks. It would go on to top 1 million in eight days. The two presidential memoirs have now each sold between 3.5 and 4 million copies, totals that Obama’s book should easily surpass.
No nonfiction comes close to the pace set by J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” which in 2007 sold more than 8 million copies in its first 24 hours.
by Mary Cadden
Contributing: The Associated Press