Michelle Obama memoir tops US book charts – with nine copies sold per second

The former first lady’s autobiography has been warmly reviewed and is No 2 in the UK charts – outsold only by David Walliams

Michelle Obama’s Becoming sold almost nine copies per second on its first day on sale in North America to become the fastest-selling book of the year so far, while in the UK, the memoir is close to the top of the book charts.

Published last Tuesday, the former first lady’s autobiography has been warmly greeted by both the media and the public. The New York Times called it a “polished pearl of a memoir”, the Guardian said that it was “dignified” with a “refreshing level of honesty”. On Amazon.com, more than 200 user reviews gave it five stars.

With a first print run of 1.8m copies in the US and Canada, publisher Penguin Random House has already ordered an additional 800,000 hardbacks of Becoming. On Monday, the company said that the memoir had sold more than 725,000 copies in its first 24 hours on sale, making it the biggest single-day seller of the year. Chief executive Madeline McIntosh called the response “extraordinary”.

The US’s biggest book chain, Barnes & Noble, said Becoming had had the biggest first-week sales of any book this year, beating Bob Woodward’s Fear. “[It] is among the fastest sellers in Barnes & Noble history,” said the firm’s senior director of merchandising, Liz Harwell.

In the UK, the title has leapfrogged to second spot on the charts, selling 64,732 print copies in five days, trailing only The Ice Monster by bestselling children’s author David Walliams. Penguin reported that 86,000 copies had been sold across all formats, including audiobook, and that it had dispatched 350,000 copies, with two reprints already. Becoming is also No 1 at Amazon.co.uk and Waterstones, which has partnered with Penguin and online magazine gal-dem to launch a pop-up shop stocking only books by women and non-binary people of colour from 23 November, as part of promotions for the memoir.

“This book is, without a doubt, the most exciting publishing event of this year. Her remarkable story of growing up on the South Side of Chicago, through to her two terms as first lady in the White House, offers us all, in these days of polarisation and hate, a fresh alternative hope,” said Waterstones non-fiction buyer Richard Humphreys. It was level with first-week sales of Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage, which went on to become Waterstones’ bestselling book of 2017.

Contributor

Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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