Michelle Obama book boosts Bertelsmann revenues

Former US First Lady Michelle Obama’s best-selling autobiography helped boost revenue last year at German media giant Bertelsmann to the highest in more than a decade.

Michelle Obama book boosts Bertelsmann revenues

Former US First Lady Michelle Obama’s best-selling autobiography helped boost revenue last year at German media giant Bertelsmann to the highest in more than a decade.

Bertelsmann’s Penguin Random House sold nearly 10 million copies of Becoming, the account of Ms Obama’s journey from Chicago’s south side to the White House. That helped lift Bertelsmann’s total sales to €17.7bn, the highest since 2007.

“We believe this could become the most successful memoir ever,” Bertelsmann chief executive Thomas Rabe said.

The book’s strong sales are a boon for Mr Rabe’s strategy to bet big on publishing after Bertelsmann bought a 22% share in Penguin Random House from Pearson for about $1bn in 2017, raising its stake to 75%.

Penguin Random House in 2017 agreed to pay a reported $65m to publish separate books from Barack and Michelle Obama.

Becoming continues to sell well and could become a “modern classic” that provides continuous revenue every year, the publisher’s CEO Markus Dohle said. Mr Dohle said he hopes that Barack Obama’s memoir will be published this year and will sell similarly well.

Sales at Penguin Random House also rose last year thanks to a foothold in fast-growing markets such as India, the growth of audio books, and recent blockbusters including John Grisham’s The Reckoning, and political thriller The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson.

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