Friday, March 17, 2017

What Did The Obamas Promise To Deliver For A $65M Book Deal?

Why, you might ask, would Penguin Random House, shell out 65 million dollars to acquire a pair of books?  Is the book industry that healthy – or is something else at play?

We can look at the obvious for some answers.  Okay, so the books in question are coming from former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.  No release dates were offered for either one – nor does anyone have a clue as to what could be in these books.

One has to speculate that there’s a bombshell in one or both of these books, otherwise why would the publisher pay such an exorbitant price tag?  Memoirs of former presidents and first ladies can sell millions of copies, but it’s hard to see how the publisher can recoup its investment.

So why would a publisher pay a crapload of money to get these books?

·         Prestige and branding.
·         Prevent a competitor from getting them.
·         Politics – staunch support by ownership for the former president’s policies.
·         Hope that residual rights deals, foreign editions, audiobooks, and maybe even a movie deal can offset the investment.
·         To let other authors and literary agents know that they are the big dog and should always be given right of first refusal.  
      What could be in these books that hasn’t been revealed in prior books by or about the president?  What could possibly be new and interesting that the news media and social media hasn’t captured in the past decade, from the campaign trail to eight years in the Oval Office?

Let’s speculate:

·         Amazing policy initiatives are offered -yawn
·         Confessions of mistakes made are thrown in -zzzzz
·         Scandalous accusations are dished –very Twitter-worthy.
·         Personal secrets are revealed-getting warmer.
·         He admits he wasn’t born in America – not likely.
·         He cheated on Michelle – why would he admit it?
·         He really isn’t black – so what is he?

I can’t imagine why people will run to plunk down $35 or more to get a copy of either Obama book.  Sure, political junkies, historians, ardent Obama supporters, proud Liberals and Black organizations could snap up millions of copies over time, especially when the country has to clean itself of Trump’s reckless, unpresidential-like policies, but PRH would have to sell well over 10 million copies – maybe more – for it to hope to recover its investment.

It’s an interesting gamble.  It’s still nice to see such big book deals even though big advances have disappeared but save a few elite best-selling brand authors.  

We’ll soon find out what $65M buys us.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

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