Record-breaking auction for Obamas’ book deal tops $65m Penguin Random House wins bidding war for memoirs by former president and first lady Read next Fast FT Jessica Dye Private prisons get a boost as Trump reportedly pulls Obama policy © Getty Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Email6 Save AN HOUR AGO by: Matthew Garrahan in New York and David Bond in London Penguin Random House will pay more than $65m for the global rights to two books to be written separately by Barack and Michelle Obama, after a blockbuster auction that set a new record for US presidential memoirs. The company declined to comment on the fee it had agreed with the Obamas. But people briefed on the auction, which attracted interest from HarperCollins, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, and CBS’ Simon & Schuster, confirmed it would exceed $65m. Markus Dohle, Penguin Random House chief executive, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to continue our publishing partnership with the President and Mrs Obama. With their words and their leadership, they changed the world.” Penguin Random House published Mr Obama’s previous three books. While the Obamas are writing separate books, they sold the rights jointly. The deal eclipses those secured by departing US presidents. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House, paid $15m for the rights to Bill Clinton’s 2004 memoirs My Life when he left the White House, while George W Bush made an estimated $10m from his book Decision Points, which was published by Crown. Robert Barnett, Mr Obama’s literary agent, fielded the offers on behalf of the former president. A spokesman for Mr Obama also declined to comment. Related article The Obama legacy: FT journalists pick their favourite articles A collection of piercing — and prophetic — journalism as eight years in the White House come to a close Mr Barnett has become a power player for politicians seeking big book deals. He brokered Tony Blair’s £4.5m contract with Penguin Random House, which is jointly owned by UK education group Pearson and Bertelsmann, the German media company. Pearson last month said it had exercised an option to sell its stake in the company; discussions between the two sides are said to be ongoing. The Obamas have kept a low profile since leaving the White House. They recently holidayed in Palm Springs and visited Necker Island, where Mr Obama kite-boarded with Sir Richard Branson. Having gained a reputation as a writer before entering the White House with his best selling books Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope, Mr Obama’s story of his two terms as president was always likely to attract huge offers from publishing groups. But the prospect of a joint book deal with his wife Michelle propelled the auction to record-breaking levels and has set the publishing industry alight. Mr Obama earned $8.8m from The Audacity of Hope, a 2006 bestseller, and the children’s book Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, according to a report by Forbes. Sales of his first memoir, Dreams from My Father, published in paperback in 2004, brought in a further $6.8m in royalties, according to Forbes.
Five days a week, Kim Moske makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and brown-bags it to work. “I’ve been doing that for 30 years and saving what I would have spent eating my lunch out someplace,” she said. “That’s added up to a lot of money, and truthfully, I don’t care what I eat for lunch.”
That is a small gesture, but it is indicative of the advantages of making daily choices to help save for a financially secure retirement.
Ms. Moske, 56, lives in Delaware, Ohio, and is a project manager for a small manufacturing firm. She expects to retire in six years. But it has not been all about homemade sandwiches: She started to save and invest in her late 20s.
That foresight and discipline have made it possible for her to envision a fairly traditional retirement — one that will allow her time to pursue hobbies like gardening, hiking in Hocking Hills State Park or biking along the Olentangy River near her home, and traveling.