Barack Obama Memoir Sells More Than 887,000 Copies on First Day

By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg

Former President Barack Obama’s memoir sold more than 887,000 copies on Tuesday, a sizzling debut that publisher Penguin Random House said marked the largest first-day sales for any book it had ever published.

The sales included all formats and editions in the U.S. and Canada, as well as preorders.

“A Promised Land,” the first volume of Mr. Obama’s account of his career and years in the White House, slightly outpaced the opening-day sales of the memoir penned by his wife, former first lady Michelle Obama.

Her book, “Becoming,” sold more than 725,000 copies its first day of publication in 2018 and has now logged total sales of more than 14 million copies world-wide in all formats.

Penguin Random House’s parent, German media company Bertelsmann SE, paid an estimated $60 million for the global publishing rights to the books by Mr. and Mrs. Obama. Mr. Obama’s book ranks No. 1 on the bestseller lists of both Amazon and

Early retailer demand was so strong that Penguin Random House increased its print run to 3.4 million copies, up from an original run of 3 million.

“We’re seeing a strong performance across all channels but independent bookstores in particular are reporting unprecedented first day sales,” said David Drake, publisher of Penguin Random House’s Crown imprint. “They have been worried about their financial survival during the pandemic. I hope this book will make a meaningful difference to their year.”

Mr. Obama’s book is off to a hot start in a year that already has been strong for political books. Mary L. Trump’s memoir “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” sold more than 950,000 copies in the U.S. on July 14, the day it went on sale.

Journalist Bob Woodward’s “Rage” sold 600,000 copies in all formats in its first week on sale in the U.S., while former Trump White House national security adviser John Bolton’s memoir “The Room Where It Happened” sold more than 780,000 copies in that time frame. Both titles were published by Simon & Schuster, the book publishing arm of ViacomCBS Inc. that is for sale.

In his book, which took Mr. Obama 2 ½ years longer than expected to finish, he explains the path he took as a young man, through much of his first term in office, with reflections on subjects such as the Arab Spring and the decision to send more troops to Afghanistan. He also writes about his experience as a father and husband.


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