Barack and Michelle Obama sign record book deals with Penguin Random House

Books by former president and first lady said to have been sold for more than $60m and will focus on White House years

Barack and Michelle Obama have signed book deals with Penguin Random House, the publisher announced on Tuesday.

Financial terms were not disclosed for the books, for which several publishers had competed, although the Financial Times reported that bidding reached more than $60m a record sum for US presidential memoirs.

By comparison, fellow Democrat and former president Bill Clinton earned $15m for rights to his 2004 memoir My Life after he left office, while Obamas immediate predecessor, Republican George W Bush, reaped some $10m from his 2010 book Decision Points.

The former president and first lady have previously published through Crown, a Penguin Random House imprint. But Penguin Random House declined comment on which imprint or imprints the books would be released through.

We are absolutely thrilled to continue our publishing partnership with president and Mrs Obama, the publishers CEO Markus Dohle said in a statement. With their words and their leadership, they changed the world, and every day, with the books we publish at Penguin Random House, we strive to do the same. Now, we are very much looking forward to working together with president and Mrs Obama to make each of their books global publishing events of unprecedented scope and significance.

The Obamas were represented in negotiations by Robert Barnett and Deneen Howell of Williams & Connolly. Barnett has worked on deals with Obamas two immediate predecessors Bill Clinton and George W Bush, and with Michelle Obamas predecessors Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush.

The Obamas plan to donate a significant portion of their author proceeds to charity, including to the Obama Foundation. Barack Obamas book is a strong contender to attract the largest advance for any ex-president; the previous record is believed to be $15m for Bill Clintons My Life.

The unique dual arrangement announced on Tuesday is for books that are among the most anticipated in memory from a former president and first lady.

Barack Obama is widely regarded as one of the finest prose stylists among modern presidents, and his million-selling Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope are considered essential to his rise to the White House.

Michelle Obama and Barack Obama read Where the Wild Things Are for children at the annual White House Easter egg roll in 2016. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Michelle Obama has given few details about her time as first lady: her only book is about food and gardening, American Grown, released in 2012.

Titles and release dates were not immediately available. The books will reflect on the Obamas White House years, although Penguin Random House declined to give further details. A publishing official with knowledge of the negotiations told Associated Press that Barack Obamas book will be a straightforward memoir about his presidency, while Michelle Obama plans to write an inspirational work for young people that will draw on her life story.

Presidential memoirs have contributed little to the literary canon, a tradition many believe Barack Obama will change. But recent books have found large audiences with Bill Clintons George W Bushs becoming million-sellers.

Books by first ladies, including Hillary Clintons Living History, have been dependable best-sellers.

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