This was announced today in Publisher’s Weekly:
Former Secretary of State John Kerry will publish a memoir with Simon & Schuster. Jonathan Karp, president and publisher of the Simon & Schuster imprint, and Bob Bender, v-p and executive editor, who will edit the book, acquired world publishing rights in all formats from Robert B. Barnett of Williams & Connolly. No publication date has yet been set. The book will also be published by Simon & Schuster’s international companies in Australia, Canada, India, and the United Kingdom, and in audiobook by Simon & Schuster Audio.
Kerry was represented by Bob Barnett, the same Washington uber-lawyer who has negotiated book deals for the Obamas, George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Sarah Palin, and many other national political figures. In addition to his tenure as Obama’s Secretary of State, I assume the book will also cover his 2004 presidential run and his Senate career.
President and Mrs. Obama have about 60 million reasons to smile today, according to the Financial Times:
A blockbuster auction for the global rights to two books by Barack and Michelle Obama has reached more than $60m, according to people with knowledge of the sales process, a record sum for US presidential memoirs.
The Obamas are writing separate books but selling the rights jointly.
Several publishers including Penguin Random House, which published Mr Obama’s previous three books, and HarperCollins, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, have expressed interest in the most hotly anticipated publishing deal of the year.
Some perspective on how this compares to other presidential book deal:
The sum offered would eclipse other book deals secured by departing 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.
UPDATE: According to the New York Times, Penguin Random House won the bidding war for the worldwide rights to both books. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but estimated to be worth “tens of millions.” There will be a nonprofit/charity component to the publication and the advances of both books.
The publisher plans to donate one million books in the Obama family’s name to First Book, a Penguin Random House nonprofit partner, and the Washington-based partner for the 2016 White House digital education initiative, Open eBooks. The Obamas also plan to donate a portion of their advances to charity, including the Obama Foundation.
According to The Hill, the Obamas have signed on with the Harry Walker Agency, which will represent them and arrange their post-White House speaking gigs. The publication also reports that Washington D.C. lawyers Robert Barnett and Deneen Howell will represent them in negotiations for potential book deals. There are no book releases or speaking engagements currently planned.
There’s also this bit of news from Politico Playbook:
Allison Zelman, a Clinton and Obama alum, and Paulette Aniskoff, a former director of the Office of Public Engagement at the Obama White House, have launched Citizen 44 LLC, which will “oversee President Obama’s engagement with political and progressive organizations and major supporters around the country to defend his legacy. They will also run his alumni network.” FROM ANITA BRECKENRIDGE, OBAMA’S CHIEF OF STAFF: “Paulette is someone who the President has relied on, and who countless allies and activists partnered closely with during our time in the White House. During her ten years on the campaign and inside the administration, she ran point on some of the most important fights we had and was a trusted senior strategist. We are thrilled to have her as a key member of the post presidency team.”
I don’t suppose anyone told them that Citizen 44 sounds very close to Citizenfour, the Oscar-winning documentary about Edward Snowden…
UPDATE: Reaction from Paulette Aniskoff