He's been called the "literary president" and the "new Oprah," unintentionally shooting books to the top of the bestseller lists by mentioning them in interviews or simply receiving them as gifts. Now it looks like yet another title may get a boost from President Obama. In a forthcoming interview in the New York Times Magazine, by David Leonhardt, Obama answers a question about whether he's "reading anything good" by saying he's "sick enough of briefing books" and has started Joseph O'Neill's novel, Netherland. Now Random House, which publishes the title, is headed back to press.
The May 2008 book, published by Random House's Pantheon imprint and one of the New York Times's Best Books of the Year, has already gained market traction--according to Random House's Paul Bogaards the title has sold 90,000 copies. But with this new presidential seal of approval, RH has decided to go back to press for an additional 2,500 copies as "a start," according to Bogaards. (The paperback edition is scheduled for June, and RH is planning to ship 45,000 copies.)
But regardless of whether O'Neill sees his sales numbers spike thanks to the president's endorsement, Bogaards thinks a statement like this is a good thing for books, period: "The bigger message is that the president, at the end of the day, is making time to read a book." That our commander-in-chief is plugging fiction says something as well. Bogaards thinks Obama expressing that he's "finding solace in the pages of a novel" is something that will resonate with Americans and, just maybe, get them reading.