Saturday, May 30, 2009

The "O" ness sells books

Yep, not just Oprah. Bookmark time for!!!

When President Barack Obama recently told The New York Times Magazine that he was reading “Netherland,” the novel caught fire.

Sales quickly rose by 40 percent and as of last week, the book had sold more than 95,000 copies.

“It was getting so much attention and we were in such demand that we decided to move up the release of the paperback by a month,” said Russell Perreault, vice president and director of publicity at Vintage Books, the novel’s publisher. “It’s been fantastic.”

Like presidents before him, when Obama reveals the current title on his nightstand, good things happen for that book.

It also happened after Obama suggested he was modeling his Cabinet on Abraham Lincoln’s “Team of Rivals,” and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book of the same name shot up the charts last November, a full three years after it was published.

Howard Yoon, a literary agent with Gail Ross said, "few people in the world" have the influnce Obama has when it comes to the literary world.

"There's Oprah and now Obama," Yoon said. "Those are the two titans. But it's more than just influence. It's also respect and trust. Here you have a sitting president who's not only trained as a legal scholar but also a New York Times best-selling author. His credibility and trust is extraordinarily high when it comes to book recommendations."

So what’s next to get the Obama seal of approval? Aides say he read in recent months “What is the What,” a novel about a real-life Sudanese refugee who is separated from his family during the civil war when the Arab militia wipes out his village.

Obama liked the book so much, a senior aide said, he urged White House aides to read it, too.

First lady Michelle Obama also tries to make time for books. In recent weeks, a senior White House aide said she finished up “Life of Pi” — a book about an Indian boy who survives a shipwreck, which she read with daughter Malia — as well as Zadie Smith’s “White Teeth,” which describes as a novel about “race, sex, class, history, and the minefield of gender politics.”

With “What is the What,” author Dave Eggers was surprised to find out, in a call from POLITICO, that Barack Obama had actually read his book.

“It’s surreal,” said Eggers, who also wrote the bestseller "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius." “There’s no brain I respect more than Obama’s. To have occupied his time for a few hours…it’s a profound honor.” read more here...

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