Following their exit from the White House, Barack and Michelle Obama signed a massive, multi-million dollar publishing deal that had them both writing autobiographies. Michelle’s Becoming was released in late 2018 and went on to be the best-selling book of the year, with more than 10 million copies sold; meanwhile, Barack’s book is still in the works.
The release of the former president’s memoir may now be pushed back until 2020, a delay that has critics wondering what’s up. But while some maintain that Mr. Obama intends for his book release to have an impact on the 2020 elections, it is also reportedly part of a competitive desire to sell more books than his wife.
Sell, sell, sell
According to several anonymous sources who spoke with The Atlantic and were purported to be in direct contact with the former president, Barack Obama has shared with friends that he hopes to out-sell his wife when it comes to books.
The sources pointed out that Obama has a tendency to often lament that he is doing all of the writing for his book by himself, rather than with the aid of a ghostwriter, as had been the case with the former first lady’s book.
The as-yet-untitled book is said to outline the former president’s experiences from his 2004 address to the Democratic National Convention — the moment Obama first emerged as a contender on the national stage — through his two terms in the White House.
Though the memoir initially planned to be released at some point in 2019, that book could come as late as Thanksgiving 2020 so Obama can catch the holiday spending season to drive up his book sale numbers higher than those attained by his wife.
Looking to 2020
Aside from the competition over sales numbers with his wife, there may be other political considerations involved in the decision to delay the release of Barack Obama’s book until 2020.
Should the book be released in the heart of the primary or general campaign season, it could be viewed as an effort to support the nominee and help the party achieve victory in November.
If held until after the election, depending upon how that election goes, the book could also serve to help console Democrats following a Trump re-election.
But such a release would risk stealing the spotlight away from the newly-elected Democratic president if Trump were to lose his bid.
Basking in the spotlight
One can only wonder if the alleged desire by Obama to sell more books than his wife is nothing more than a friendly competition or if it signals something deeper. A divide in the relationship? A level of insecurity on the part of the former president?
As for the inevitability of a 2020 book release having an impact of some sort on the election, it remains to be seen how the Democrat hopefuls will feel about sharing the media spotlight with the media-beloved former leader.