President Obama confirmed what many political and literary observers have long assumed: After he leaves office, he’ll be writing a book.
In a CNN interview with David Axelrod, his former campaign strategist and senior advisor, Obama revealed he plans to restart his literary career after President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20.
“I’m gonna start thinking about the first book I want to write. We’ve got to unpack, and I don’t need your help on that either,” Obama said, prompting laughter from Axelrod.
The president isn’t a stranger to the life of an author. He published his first book, the memoir “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” when he was 34.
He followed that up with his 2006 book, “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream,” which came two years after he was elected to the U.S. Senate and two years before he become the nation’s 44th president.
It’s become commonplace for presidents to write books after they’ve finished serving their terms in office. Bill Clinton chronicled his time in the Oval Office (and before) in his lengthy 2004 autobiography, “My Life”; George W. Bush did the same with “Decision Points,” published in 2010.
Obama is clearly a reader as well as an author. During his time in office, he has visited bookstores in Iowa, Massachusetts and around Washington D.C.; regularly released lists of the books he’s reading; taken his family holiday shopping for books with cameras following along; and got a copy of Jonathan Franzen’s novel “Freedom” before it even hit shelves.
Speculation about Obama’s post-White House book has been building steadily as his term nears an end. In September, the New York Times suggested that books by Obama and his wife, Michelle, could fetch millions from publishers.
Literary agent Raphael Sagalyn told the Times that President Obama could earn up to $30 million for a multiple-book deal.
“His is going to be easily the most valuable presidential memoir ever,” Sagalyn said. “And I think Michelle Obama has the opportunity to sell the most valuable first lady memoir in history.”
Any literary effort by the president will have to wait a little bit, though — Obama told Axelrod that his memoir would not be his first order of business once he leaves the West Wing.
“Well, I think … my intentions on January 21 [are] to sleep, take my wife on a nice vacation,” Obama said, “and she has said it better be nice.”