April 1, 2019

Michelle Obama’s Becoming is becoming the best selling memoir of all time


Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, is becoming (sorry) the best selling memoir of all time. According to a report from Stephanie Merry at The Washington Post, the book from the former first lady has sold over 10 million copies across all formats—that includes hardcover, audiobooks, and e-books—since its release five months ago.

But back in 2017, when the book deal was announced—reportedly a $65 million deal for two books, one from the first lady and one from her husband, the former president—publishing insiders doubted the potential success of Michelle’s book. In a March 2017 article from Publishers Weekly, Jim Milliot and Rachel Deahl wrote:

Michelle Obama’s book is more of a gamble. Many insiders said that, despite her popularity as first lady and the notoriety she achieved in the just-closed presidential election, it’s harder to make an educated guess about how well her book could sell, out of the gate or in backlist.

There are no specifics given as to why one would question the possible success of Becoming, but perhaps it’s rooted in the sexist ideas that men are more successful than women that continue to proliferate (despite it being 2019). And considering the track record of memoirs by recent first ladies—they more often than not outsold memoirs from their presidential husbandsit’s even more confusing why “publishing insiders” doubted Michelle’s success. One can’t help but question the sexist and racial implications behind it.

Whatever the reason, Barack is going to have to deliver some serious goods if he’s going to want to compete at the same level as Michelle. She has already outsold the combined 7.5 million sales of his two previous books, his 1995 memoir Dreams From My Father and 2006’s The Audacity of Hope, which helped launch his presidential campaign.

They go low, we go high … in book sales.



Stephanie DeLuca is the director of publicity at Melville House.