A bidding war over the global rights to two books from former President Obama and his wife Michelle has soared above $60 million, according to a new report.
The potential price tag would mark a record sum for a U.S. president’s memoirs, according to the Financial Times, which reported Tuesday the former president and first lady are writing separate books but selling the rights jointly.
George W. Bush earned an estimated $10 million from 2010’s “Decision Points,” a New York Times bestseller published by Crown, while Bill Clinton’s “My Life” netted $15 million following its publication by Knopf in 2004.
At least four publishers are involved in an auction over the Obama books, sources told the Times, which reported that Penguin Random House is leading the pack and a decision on the winning bid is expected soon.
Penguin published Obama’s last three books.
HarperCollins, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., is reportedly another contender. HarperCollins winning the rights would bring the Obamas into the same publishing house as figures such as Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly, one of the former president’s biggest media critics.
Sources briefed on the auction’s standing said Macmillian is a third competitor, while Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CBS, remains a fourth player.
Penguin declined to comment for the report, as did Obama’s spokesman and Robert Barnett, the former president’s literary agent.
Barack Obama was an accomplished author before his two terms in the White House, publishing a pair of bestselling books as a Democratic senator from Illinois.
“Dreams from My Father” was initially released in 1995 and earned $6.8 million in royalties after its re-release in paperback in 2004, according to Forbes.
“The Audacity of Hope” became an $8.8 million bestseller in 2006, while also planting the seeds for Obama’s “hope and change” campaign slogan during his successful 2008 presidential bid.