PRH to publish collection of Obama and Springsteen conversations

PRH to publish collection of Obama and Springsteen conversations

Penguin Random House is to publish "a collection of candid, intimate, and entertaining conversations" between former President of the United States Barack Obama and musician Bruce Springsteen, based on their shared podcast, with the Viking imprint bringing out the book in the UK. 

The news was announced by Markus Dohle, c.e.o. of PRH, who acquired world rights from Deneen Howell of Williams & Connolly LLP to Renegades: Born in the USA, which will publish globally on 26th October 2021, in partnership with Higher Ground, the media company run by Barack and Michelle Obama. 

In the UK the "highly illustrated" book, 320 pages long, will have a list price of £35 in print and £15.99 in digital.

The book will feature photographs from the authors' personal collections as well as never-before-seen archival material including Springsteen’s handwritten lyrics and Obama’s annotated speeches. 

The publisher said: "Renegades: Born in the USA chronicles the conversation Obama and Springsteen began in Spotify’s co-produced podcast of the same name, which is one of the the most listened-to podcasts globally on the Spotify platform. During these intimate conversations, they share exclusive stories and ruminations about life, music, and their enduring love of America, with all its challenges and contradictions."

Waterstones expects the book to perform well this autumn. Non-fiction buyer Kate McHale told The Bookseller: “We’re hugely excited to have a new headline act this year with the announcement of Renegades: Born in the USA, particularly as Barack Obama’s A Promised Land was one of the highlights of a challenging autumn last year. I can hardly think of a more legendary pairing and we expect it to be a favourite on many of our customers' Christmas lists .”

In the opening pages of the book, Obama writes: "Over the years, what we’ve found is that we’ve got a shared sensibility. About work, about family, and about America. In our own ways, Bruce and I have been on parallel journeys trying to understand this country that’s given us both so much. Trying to chronicle the stories of its people. Looking for a way to connect our own individual searches for meaning and truth and community with the larger story of America."

In his introduction, Springsteen says: “There were serious conversations about the fate of the country, the fortune of its citizens, and the destructive, ugly, corrupt forces at play that would like to take it all down. This is a time of vigilance when who we are is being seriously tested. Hard conversations about who we are and who we want to become can perhaps serve as a small guiding map for some of our fellow citizens... This is a time for serious consideration of who we want to be and what kind of country we will leave our children. Will we let slip through our hands the best of us or will we turn united to face the fire? Within this book you won’t find the answers to those questions, but you will find a couple of seekers doing their best to get us to ask better questions.”

An English-language edition of Renegades will be published in the United States and Canada by Crown, and in Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa by Viking. A Spanish language edition will also be available, published as Renegados. The book will also be published in translation in seven additional languages, including Spanish Debate/Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial; German Penguin Verlag/Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe; Portuguese Brazil Companhia das Letras; Portuguese Portugal Objectiva/Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial; French Editions Fayard; Italian Garzanti; and Dutch Hollands Diep.

Obama has sold 1.45 million books for £12.5m via Nielsen BookScan's UK TCM. His recent autobiography A Promised Land (Penguin) has sold 180,615 copies to date, but this does not include lockdown-era sales, which included its first few weeks on the shelves. Meanwhile Springsteen's memoir Born to Run went to the UK number one in October 2016, and has sold 287,566 copies for £3m in total via Nielsen BookScan in the UK.

The announcement comes as the second high-profile global acquisition for PRH this week, following on from the revelation that Prince Harry's memoir has also been acquired, for publication in 2022.