Michelle Obama’s debut memoir continues to steamroll all other contenders for the title of 2018’s top-selling book. This week, publisher Penguin Random House announced that Becoming has sold more than 3 million copies in the U.S. and Canada in all formats, 1 million more than it reported two weeks ago. NPD BookScan, which tracks 80 to 85 percent of trade bookstore sales in the U.S., put that number at 1,530,326 total — but BookScan only tracks sales of physical print and audio units, and doesn’t include Canadian sales, e-books, or digital audio. It’s also likely that BookScan’s numbers don’t take into account the thousands of books Obama has sold at ticketed events through outside vendors like Live Nation and its subsidiary, Ticketmaster.
The sales update came along with the announcement of an additional 21 tour events in 2019, which make a grand total of 35 when added to the 16 previously announced for 2018 — all in large arenas in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, and all with packaged book-and-ticket deals. (Two of those dates, though, were canceled in order to allow the former First Lady to attend former president George H.W. Bush’s funeral last month.) The added dates are sure to increase the book’s total sales numbers going into the new year — as will continued sales orders for libraries and other markets not tracked by BookScan.
To put those numbers in context, the decade’s best-selling book to date, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Pts. 1 and 2, sold 4,453,382 in 2016 alone according to BookScan, which was then owned by Nielsen. It’s hard to see Becoming getting even close (though Potter was published months earlier in the year). Two books Obama has a very good chance of besting are John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, 2014’s biggest seller with 1,813,574 copies, and the following year’s record-holder, Harper Lee’s mysterious maybe-prequel Go Set a Watchman (1,599,189 total units). Watchman was published in July of that year, four months before Obama’s — and Becoming is only 70,000 sales away from beating it.
So where would the smart money go, if smart money went to books? Obama’s memoir is becoming one of the best-selling books of the decade. But it probably won’t be No. 1.