Last week, former US president Barack Obama published his highly anticipated memoir A Promised Land. The book went straight to the top of the charts and sold extremely well within just the first few days of sale. It has now been confirmed that, within a week of release, Obama’s memoir has sold over 1.7 million copies in North America alone, among the highest for a non-fiction title.
A Promised Land details Obama’s journey to becoming the 44th president of the United States, and concludes with the killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011. Obama reflects on his time in office, the decision he made, and the struggle he had with making progress as a democrat with a House and Senate controlled by a Republican majority. A Promised Land is the first in a two-part volume, the second of which will likely be as popular as the first. A testament to his popularity and interest in his administration, the book sold almost 890,000 copies in its first day of sales alone, with publisher Crown stating it has increased the title’s print run from 3.4 million copies to 4.3 million in order to keep up with demand.
As USAToday reports, A Promised Land‘s success is certainly noteworthy, but Barack is not the first Obama to break records with a new book. In 2018, Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming proved to be an enormous hit, selling 725,000 copies with its first 24 hours of sales, and going on to sell over 1.4 million copies within its first week on shelves, making it one of the fastest-selling nonfiction books ever. To date, it has sold over 10 million copies and is still so in demand that, two years later, a paperback edition is yet to be released.
The Obamas are far from the first presidential figures to publish memoirs of their time in the White House. George W. Bush published Decision Points in 2010, which sold 775,000 copies within its first week, reaching No. 1 and remaining there for five weeks. Bill Clinton’s My Life was published in 2004 and remained in the top spot for two weeks, selling over a million copies in just over a week. The two former president’s books have sold between 3.5 and 4 million copies to date, a target that Barack Obama’s memoir looks set to beat.
While former US Presidents are topping the charts for nonfiction, the record for the fastest-selling book of all time is held by J.K. Rowling for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which sold over 8 million copies within its first day of sales.