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Obama's "A Promised Land" sells more than 1.7 million copies in its first week, breaking records

Barack Obama: The 2020 60 Minutes interview
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Former President Obama's memoir, "A Promised Land," has sold more than 1.7 million copies in its first week — breaking records for publisher Penguin Random House. On its first day, Mr. Obama's book sold a whopping 887,000 units in all formats and editions in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin Random House announced on Wednesday. That is the publisher's largest first-day sales total ever.

The memoir also broke the publisher's one-week sales record with a total of 1,710,443 units sold after it was released on November 17.

The hardcover edition of "A Promised Land" has 4.3 million copies in print in the U.S. and Canada after an initial printing of 3.4 million copies, Penguin Random House said. It is the number one bestselling book in the U.K. The book was published in 20 languages and will be printed in six more.

While Mr. Obama's book sales are quite impressive, his wife, Michelle Obama, set a high precedent with her memoir, "Becoming," published in 2018. According to Bertelsmann SE, the German media and services conglomerate that has a controlling stake in Penguin Random House, "Becoming" surpassed 10 million copies sold in 2019 — and those stats only include the company's English, Spanish and German-language territories.

"I'm not aware, in my personal experience with Penguin Random House, that we ever sold 10 million units of a memoir," chief executive Markus Dohle told The Wall Street Journal at the time.

The memoir's history-making release was also followed by a sold-out tour. Penguin Random House reportedly made a more than $30 million deal with the Obamas for both of their books in 2017.

Mr. Obama's "A Promised Land" is the first book in a series of two, according to the publisher. The release date for the second volume has yet to be announced. 

In the memoir, Mr. Obama tells "the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil," according to Penguin Random House.

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