Penguin Random House will publish coming books by former President Barack Obama and the former first lady Michelle Obama, the publishing company announced Tuesday night, concluding a heated auction among multiple publishers. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but publishing industry executives with knowledge of the bidding process said it probably stretched well into eight figures.
Robert B. Barnett and Deneen C. Howell of Williams & Connolly represented the Obamas. Penguin Random House acquired world rights to the books, and worldwide sales could be substantial. No decision has been made yet as to which of the company’s major imprints — which include Random House, Doubleday, Alfred A. Knopf and Crown — will publish the books.
Mr. Obama’s previous books were published by Crown, which also published Mrs. Obama’s book “American Green,” about the White House garden. A spokeswoman for Penguin Random House would not say whether the books would be memoirs and referred questions to representatives of the Obamas. Speculation about the Obamas’ books and how much they would sell for have been circulating in the industry in recent weeks, as executives at the top publishing houses met separately with the former president and first lady.
Some publishing executives who followed the bidding process said that the opening offers for Mr. Obama’s book alone were in the $18 million to $20 million range. The publisher plans to donate one million books in the Obama family’s name to First Book, a nonprofit organization that provides books to disadvantaged children, and Open eBooks, the Washington-based partner for the 2016 White House digital education initiative. The Obamas also plan to donate part of their advances to charity, including the Obama Foundation.