The first volume of Barack Obama’s long-anticipated presidential memoir, A Promised Land, will be published globally in hardcover and digital formats on November 17, 2020 by Crown, an imprint of Penguin Random House. PRH has ordered a three million copy first printing of the U.S. edition, which will be released worldwide simultaneously in 25 languages; in addition PRH will release an unabridged audiobook edition that will be read by President Obama.
Acquired in 2017 along with Michelle Obama’s bestselling 2018 memoir Becoming in a record-breaking package deal for $65 million, Barack Obama’s A Promised Land, will be 768 pages and will include two 16-page photographic inserts. The hardcover edition will sell for $45 in the U.S., and $17.99 in the e-book edition. A book tour for the first volume as well as the date of publication of the second volume will be announced at a later date.
The book is written by President Obama, author of two previous bestselling works of memoir, Dreams of My Father, and The Audacity of Hope, and will tell the story of his rise from a young community organizer to become the 44th president of the United States and the first African American elected to the office. According to the publisher’s release, the book will provide a “deeply personal account” of the political balance and social demands of being the first Black American to occupy the Oval office as well as the demands of the presidency on his family. The book will also detail the dynamics that drove Obama’s national political and foreign policy decisions—from the Affordable Health Care Act to Russia and Vladimir Putin, the war in Afghanistan, and the death of Osama Bin Laden—that shaped the Obama administration and its historical legacy.
In remarks addressing the book’s release, Penguin Random House global CEO Markus Dohle said “Through his words and actions, President Obama has had an indelible impact on the world and the course of history, serving as a beacon of hope and progress that has inspired so many. It is a great honor for Penguin Random House to publish A Promised Land for readers everywhere. I know they will find it to be a book that vividly brings history to life, reminding us of the power of democracy even during times of global crisis.”
The convergence of the release of A Promised Land, the memoir of a popular former president, along with a contentious, polarized presidential election, and a nation still battling the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic, is certain to drive enormous demand for the book. Interest in the book will likely dominate the media landscape as well as literary discussions and the release of A Promised Land will likely provide a boon to independent bookstores as well as chains and online booksellers.
Retailers reacted immediately to the news of the book’s release. Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt said, "A Promised Land now offers us a grand, lyrical narrative of his Presidency. This will be a book of rare consequence. That it will sell as no other book has done since July 21, 2007 [release of The Deathly Hallows] is immensely cheering to booksellers.”
Luisa Smith, head buyer, Book Passage, an independent bookstore in the San Francisco Bay Area, said she was, "Thrilled for the store and for myself! This is going to be the gift book of the season and a welcome treat for the end of a long year. Obama's words have often acted as a balm to our collective soul, and there has never been a time we need it more." And Bradley Graham, owner of Politics & Prose in Washington DC, told PW: "For our store and no doubt independent bookstores everywhere, it's a holiday gift, sure to boost sales during the holiday shopping season. And of all years, we really need a boost now."
In a prepared statement, President Obama said, “There’s no feeling like finishing a book, and I’m proud of this one. I’ve spent the last few years reflecting on my presidency, and in A Promised Land I’ve tried to provide an honest accounting of my presidential campaign and my time in office.” The President said that his account will include, “the key events and people who shaped it; my take on what I got right and the mistakes I made; and the political, economic, and cultural forces that my team and I had to confront then—and that as a nation we are grappling with still.” The book, he continued, will also offer readers “a sense of the personal journey that Michelle and I went through during those years,” and "offer some of my broader thoughts on how we can heal the division in our country going forward.
“Along with being a fun and informative read,” President Obama said, “I hope more than anything that the book inspires young people across the country—and around the globe—to take up the baton, lift up their voices, and play their part in remaking the world for the better.”