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Literature

Obama Memoir Sells A Record 1.7 Million Copies in First Week

November 25, 2020

Former President Barack Obama's "A Promised Land" sold 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.

Crown announced Tuesday that it had increased its initial print run from 3.4 million copies to 4.3 million. Sales also include audio and digital books. 

"A Promised Land," the first of two planned volumes, was published Nov. 17 and sold nearly 890,000 copies just in its first day. Among former White House residents, only Obama's wife Michelle approaches his popularity as a writer. Her "Becoming," published in 2018, has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and is currently in the top 20 on Amazon.com.

George W. Bush's "Decision Points" sold 775,000 copies its first week and Bill Clinton's "My Life" topped 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.

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