Springfield State Journal Register

December 16, 2004

Obama gains book deal
Senator-elect to pen three works for $1.9 million


WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen.-elect Barack Obama, whose autobiography has spent 14 weeks on best-seller lists after his keynote address to the Democratic National Convention, will receive $1.9 million to write three books, including one for children, his staff and publishers announced Friday.

The Illinois Democrat will write two books for adults and will work on the children's book with his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters, Malia, 6, and Sasha, 3.

For Obama, who will be juggling his Senate work with requests to appear nationally, the book deal adds yet another demand on his time.

"Some people go fishing as a hobby or for relaxation. Sen. Obama likes to write. I think he'll do a lot of this stuff in his free time as he relaxes and in the course of what he does throughout his normal day," said his spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Obama and his family are spending the holidays in Hawaii, where he was born and spent much of his childhood.

Obama will receive an $850,000 advance for each adult book and a $200,000 advance for the children's book. Proceeds from the children's book will go to a charity that hasn't yet been chosen, Gibbs said.Obama will seek approval from the Senate Ethics Committee, although he technically isn't required to do so because he hasn't yet been sworn in, Gibbs added.

When he is sworn in, Obama, 43, will become the only black member of the new Senate and only the fifth black senator in U.S. history.

The first book, scheduled for release in 2006, will focus on the political and spiritual convictions that propelled Obama's recent Senate victory in Illinois, according to a press release by Crown Publishing Group and Random House Children's Books, both divisions of Random House Inc.

"I got into politics after law school because it seemed to me that the law was inadequate to the task of affecting change," Obama said in a statement.

"Politics provided a direct link to my background as a community organizer. Today, when I see the divisions in this country, when I see unfairness and injustice, when I see misunderstanding or the enormous empathy deficit that damages so much of our politics, I have to do something about it. It's a lifetime journey and it is the basis for this book."

The children's book, also scheduled to be released in 2006, will detail Obama's childhood as "a skinny young kid with the big ears and funny name" who grew up to be a senator.

The topic and release date for the third book hasn't yet been determined, Gibbs said.

Obama was represented by Washington attorney Robert Barnett, who also negotiated deals for former President Bill Clinton, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former CIA Director George Tenet.

Obama's first book, "Dreams From My Father," was initially published by Crown in 1995. It was re-released in July after the convention and has spent 14 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list for paperback nonfiction, with 350,000 copies in print.