The former first lady’s book is breaking records. According to publisher Penguin Random House, Michelle Obama’s memoir “Becoming” has sold more than 10 million copies — including hardcover, audiobooks and e-books — since its November release. That puts it near the top, if not the pinnacle, of all-time memoir sales.
Markus Dohle, Penguin Random House’s chief executive, told the Wall Street Journal, “I’m not aware, in my personal experience with Penguin Random House, that we ever sold 10 million units of a memoir.”
And sales continue to skyrocket. The memoir was the fastest-selling book of 2018, not to mention the best-selling hardcover book of the year. “Becoming” sold an astounding 725,000 copies on its first day and 2 million copies in North America within 15 days of its release, making it the fastest-selling book of 2018, not to mention the best-selling hardcover book of the year.
Presales ensured that “Becoming” was the No. 1 most-sold book on Amazon even before its release date. Shortly after publication, it also became a No. 1 seller abroad, in Britain, Germany and Greece, among many other countries. (Amazon’s founder and chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, owns The Washington Post.) “Becoming” is the first in a two-book deal that the Obamas made with Penguin Random House in 2017.
The success of the book has been bolstered by a book tour to end all book tours, which has taken her to arenas around the country, including Washington’s Tacoma Dome Sunday, where she spoke to a crowd of more than 18,000 people, according to the Tacoma News Tribune. Her stops have been star-studded, featuring Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Jessica Parker, and Sunday was no different: Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel interviewed Obama, while musicians Ciara and Eddie Vedder made appearances.
The tour, like the book, has been extremely popular. Tickets, which started at $29.95 and peaked in the thousands for special VIP access (a portion of sales are going to charity), were quickly snapped up, prompting the former first lady to extend what started as a 10-city tour to include an additional 21 stops. Next up, she’ll be appearing in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Paris, among other cities, before returning to the States and finishing her tour in Nashville on May 12 with a discussion moderated by Stephen Colbert.
Fans have been drawn to the events to see a more candid side of Obama, and she has rewarded her crowds by being honest about her challenges as the nation’s first African American first lady.
“For eight years, I don’t think I took a full breath because everything mattered,” Obama said during her stop in Tacoma. “We couldn’t slip up.”
Leaving the White House was a huge relief, she said. It’s also been a hugely successful career move.