Publishers are planning a wave of Obama books for summer, fall

By Hillel Italie

Two children’s books on Obama will hit the shelves.

NEW YORK — Book publishers couldn’t wait for a concession speech. Several works about Sen. Barack Obama, the Democrats’ presumptive presidential candidate, have been planned for a while for the summer and fall, from children’s stories and photographs to attacks from both the left and the right.

“Based on past election years, we anticipate strong customer interest in titles regarding the issues, candidates and election process,” Bob Wietrak, a vice president of merchandising at Barnes Noble, Inc., told The Associated Press recently.

Obama has written two books, “Dreams From My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope,” both million sellers.

“He tells his own story so eloquently I can’t imagine a book about him selling so well. Never,” said Carla Cohen, co-owner of the Politics Prose bookstore, based in Washington, D.C. She did say there has been interest in some previous books, including David Mendell’s “Obama,” a biography published by HarperCollins last year and recently out in paperback.

“I think there is still a market for them [Obama books], although I have to say, it’s hard to match his own storytelling,” says Priscilla Painton, editor-in-chief of Simon Schuster, which has at least two Obama books planned.

“But there are two reasons why more Obama books might get traction: First, there’s a market for a professional journalist telling the story drawing on all kinds of sources, not just Obama’s version. But you also have to remember that lots of folks are only now waking up to the idea that he could be president, and so there’s a second wave of buyers out there ready to read about him.”

Simon & Schuster is publishing a biography about Obama’s wife, Michelle Obama, by Washington Post reporter Liza Mundy. The book, currently untitled, will come out in October with a first printing of 100,000. Simon Schuster is also releasing a children’s work, “Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope,” by author Nikki Grimes and illustrator Bryan Collier. Another story for young people, Garen Thomas’ “Yes We Can,” will come from Feiwel, a children’s imprint of MacMillan.

PublicAffairs plans a revised version of a collection of the senator’s speeches, “Barack Obama in His Own Words,” and is already committed to a campaign book by Evan Thomas and the staff of Newsweek. Thomas Nelson, a religious publisher, will offer “The Faith of Barack Obama,” by Stephen Mansfield, while Triumph Books plans Pete Souza’s “The Rise of Barack Obama,” a compilation of photographs.

The left-wing Verso Books has just released “The Decline of Black Politics: From Malcolm X to Barack Obama,” by civil rights activist Kevin Alexander Gray. The conservative Regnery Publishing just announced two books for August: David Freddoso’s “The Case Against Barack Obama: The Unlikely Rise and Unexamined Agenda of the Media’s Favorite Candidate,” and Thomas Blood’s “The Clinton Collapse: How Bill Clinton Lost Hillary Her ‘Sure Thing’ Nomination (And Might Even Make Obama Lose Too).”

“We intend to put him under the microscope, and we think readers will be very interested to learn what we uncover,” says Marji Ross, president and publisher of Regnery, which in 2004 released “Unfit for Command,” the best-selling attack against Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry.

Some books will be whimsical, such as Mathew Honan’s “Barack Obama Is Your New Bicycle: 366 Ways He Really Cares,” coming in August from Penguin Group (USA). Others warn of end times, like “Obama — The Postmodern Coup: Making of a Manchurian Candidate,” by Webster Griffin Tarpley, a radio commentator and author of “9-11 Synthetic Terror.”

“Barack Obama is a deeply troubled personality, the megalomaniac front man for a postmodern coup by the intelligence agencies, using fake polls, mobs of swarming adolescents, superrich contributors and orchestrated media hysteria to short-circuit normal politics and seize power,” according to the Progressive Press, which identifies itself as “America’s Dedicated Truth Publisher.”

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