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.


Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Sally Rooney trumps Michelle Obama to book of the year title
Despite the former first lady’s memoir Becoming rapidly outselling Rooney’s Normal People, British book award judges give top prize to Irish writer

Matthew Wilson

13, May, 2019 @7:30 PM

Article image
Michelle Obama announces memoir will be called Becoming
Former US first lady hopes her story, released worldwide in November, will inspire others

Nicola Slawson

25, Feb, 2018 @7:18 PM

Article image
Super Thursday: battle for UK book charts Christmas No 1 begins
Jamie Oliver and Phil Collins go up against Ladybird parodies and Danish coziness on bumper publishing day

Alison Flood

20, Oct, 2016 @5:01 AM

Article image
Gina Miller to write 'rallying cry' memoir, Rise
Brexit legal challenger to write book about struggles in her work and personal life, as well as ‘offering guidance and confidence to women in particular’

Alison Flood

24, Aug, 2017 @11:01 PM

Article image
Woody Allen memoir may still go ahead in France, despite controversy
The film director’s book Apropos of Nothing was dropped by its US publisher after staff walkouts, but the French publisher says ‘Allen is not Roman Polanski’

Alison Flood

09, Mar, 2020 @2:57 PM

Article image
David Cameron's memoir fails to top Tony Blair’s in first week sales
For the Record, the former PM’s account of his time in office sold close to 21,000 copies in its first week, behind Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, which topped 100,000

Alison Flood

24, Sep, 2019 @2:00 PM

Article image
Becoming review – tantalising tour of Michelle Obama's life
This carefully authorised documentary offers glimpses of a dazzling presence on America’s political stage

Peter Bradshaw

04, May, 2020 @2:00 PM

Article image
Alan Rickman's 27 volumes of diaries to be published as one book
The Diaries of Alan Rickman, written by the actor until his death with the intention of one day publishing them, will be released in autumn 2022

Sian Cain

21, Nov, 2020 @7:00 AM

Article image
Michelle Obama topples David Walliams to secure Christmas No 1
The former first lady’s memoir Becoming sold 92,000 copies last week – well ahead of Walliams, who was the bestselling author for the previous two years

Alison Flood and Sian Cain

18, Dec, 2018 @5:38 PM

Article image
Hillary Clinton to 'let her guard down' in candid 2016 election memoir
What Happened, due out in September, will tell the story of the electoral battle with Donald Trump in ‘a deeply intimate account and a cautionary tale for the nation’

Alison Flood

27, Jul, 2017 @12:33 PM