There were two things we learned from Bill and Hillary's ginormous book advances: The couple was enormously popular worldwide, and publishers liked to throw around a lot of money. So, on the heels of Laura Bush's considerably more modest windfall (a reported $1.5 million), we had some book honchos take a wild stab at what President Obama will be looking at — presuming reelection — for his memoirs in eight years.
Larry Kirshbaum, agent and former CEO, Time Warner Books:
"With Dow 9,000 as a base, if it's at 15,000 or below, it's a disaster given inflation and he'll get in the $5 million range. For every 1,000 points above 15,000, he gets another million. So at 20,000 he's at $10 million, at 25,000 he's at $15 million and so on. 28,000, for $18 million, should be very doable. It would require 15% compound growth annually. In more normal times, we would expect a savvy investment manager to return 15% per year, so a good President should do the same."
Geoff Kloske, publisher, Riverhead Books:
"Five million in today's dollars, adjusted for inflation, minus $1 million for each big scandal, plus $1 million for each major new piece of legislation, times two if the foreigners still love him."
Eric Simonoff, agent, Janklow and Nesbit:
"In an auction between the two remaining megahouses, President Obama's memoirs will go for $15,000,000, which doesn't sound like all that much until you factor in eight years of spiraling deflation, which makes that equivalent to $30,000,0000 in 2009 dollars."
Stuart Krichevsky, agent:
"A smart publisher might try to sign the book today, for an advance tied to the S&P 500 on the day Barack leaves office. Think of it as an economic stimulus package. So the advance is anybody's guess, but the book will initially be distributed as a tweet (or the 2016 equivalent) for a donation of $250 or more."
David Hirshey, Executive Editor, HarperCollins:
"The question presumes three major things. One, that the vast left-wing conspiracy gets its way and Obama has a second term. Two, that the dollar still exists in eight years. And three, that the book business still exists. If all three make it that far, I could see Obama getting the biggest Presidential advance in history. He's already had two bestsellers and something tells me that he has a decent shot at being an Oprah's Book Club choice — should she be around in eight years. Clinton got $12 million — and he was impeached — so you're looking at somewhere north of $15 million. If for nothing else, a sweet book deal is a pretty good reason for Obama to turn around the economy, bring peace to the Middle East, get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan and solve global warming. Of course, if he were to arrange for a BCS playoff format, then the sky is the limit."
Robert Barnett, lawyer-agent for both Clintons, Greenspan, Laura Bush, and
everyone else in Washington:
Robert Barnett had no comment.
David Rosenthal, publisher, Simon & Schuster trade
"The only certainty is that Barnett will be representing him. If it turns out Obama's really a Martian, that's worth a lot because it's a great revelation. There's been great profit for people who have been president. It's been Jimmy Carter's entire source of income. One of the reasons the Clinton book went for so much was that there was an international market. He became a world hero, a great figure for various reasons. George Bush, I don't think anybody can make that same claim. Plus he'll write it in crayon. But Obama, I've never seen such excitement, so that bodes very well for the "big planet, big dollars" concept." Would a scandal would help or hurt? "It depends on the kind of scandal. There's the blow-job premium."