July 26, 2004, was a big day for Barack Obama, then the Democratic candidate for Illinois senator. He was the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention and his speech was a big hit. Obama was also the author of a memoir published by Crown in 1995, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. Alert Crown senior editor Rachel Klayman discovered the book in the publisher's backlist a few months earlier, after reading an article about Obama's Harvard years, including his being elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. Sales prior to Obama's keynote were modest. The book was re-released in August with an 8,500-copy first printing, and between August and November, the newly elected senator (the fifth black senator in U.S. history and the only one in the current session) did lots of national shows for the book, including Charlie Rose, The View and Fresh Air. Oprah can be credited with pushing him higher on the charts when she featured him on January 18 on her "Living the American Dream" show. The Three Rivers Press edition has 500,000 copies in print after 17 trips to press. More Obama books are on the way—the author signed a $1.9-million deal with Crown in December for two adult books and one children's title.
Volume 252 Issue 6 02/07/2005