News & Politics

Barack Obama Memoir “A Promised Land” Has DC Bookstores Bracing for Huge Sales

Politics and Prose will have at least 2,000 copies, and Kramers will open at midnight.

Barack Obama’s new memoir, A Promised Land, goes on sale Tuesday, and DC bookstores are preparing for the highly anticipated release, which is likely to be one of the biggest book launches of 2020, if not the biggest. Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, sold 1.4 million copies in its first week when it was released in November 2018, and it went on to sell more than 10 million copies in its six months.

Sales of books have surged during the pandemic just as printers have experienced huge backlogs in filling orders for popular books. Obama’s publisher had to print 1.5 million copies of A Promised Land in Germany and send them to the US via cargo ship, the New York Times reports.

So how are locals stores prepping for this massive book launch? Politics and Prose will have at least 2,000 copies of the book, co-owner Bradley Graham tells Washingtonian. That’s in line with what it ordered for Becoming, Graham says. The local mini-chain has received “several hundred” pre-orders and will have the book available on a large table exclusively dedicated to A Promised Land in its Connecticut Avenue, Northwest, store. It will also be displayed prominently at Politics and Prose’s other two locations, Graham says.

Kramers (formerly Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café) will be open at midnight to sell A Promised Land, as it’s done for other big releases like Bob Woodward’s Fear. It will have 500 copies in stock, spokesperson Leah Frelinghuysen tells Washingtonian, and the shop has already had a few hundred pre-orders. The store will open its doors at 11:45 PM. It will check customers’ temperatures at the door and limit the number of people who can go inside at one time. Once you’re in, you can buy the book at any time after midnight. Kramers will close at 1 AM.

The former president, who lives about three minutes’ drive from Kramers and eight minutes’ drive from Politics and Prose, has promoted the book with interviews on 60 Minutes and in The Atlantic.

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.