New Delhi: US President Barack Obama has found pride of place on Indian bookshelves. ‘Obama`s Wars’, which arrived in the country last week, is climbing the popularity charts fast and furious and also fuelling interest in previous works by and on the man.
Priced at Rs.972, the book by journalist Bob Woodward explores Obama`s interfaces with the White House staff, his equations with them and the deep divisions that exist. It has been published by US-based Simon & Schuster.
"Price is no bar. People are just picking it up. I think the general public in the capital and in India at large, not only the government and the politicians, are interested in Obama. He is such a different kind of public figure," said Priyanka Malhotra of Full Circle Publishing.
The president`s Nov 6-9 visit to India and the success of ‘Obama`s Wars’ has rekindled interest and curiosity about two of his early books – ‘Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (1995),’ and ‘The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream’ - authored by the president, Malhotra said.
One of the capital`s biggest bookshops in Khan Market is crammed with buyers of all ages browsing through stacks of books - that includes political non-fiction - on a Monday afternoon.
Obama`s tomes are displayed prominently on the shelf. The shop has stocked up on three Obama books - two by him and the one by Bob Woodward.
Suresh Swaminathan, a 46-year-old senior executive in a multinational company in Noida, is in a hurry to pick up his volume of ‘Dreams From My Father’. The hardcover edition costs Rs.395.
"I don`t regret buying the book. I wanted to read it for so many years - now there is an excuse to read it with so much of news about Obama in the television and on ground. I think he is a dynamic president. He is the best thing that could have happened to US," the diminutive man told reporters, clutching his copy of the books.
The Bahrisons, one of the largest booksellers in India that hawks books both online and offline, has been witnessing a resurgence in demand for ‘Dreams From My Father’ and ‘Audacity of Hope’.
‘Dreams From My Father...’ was first published by Times Press and it was reprinted in 2004 by Three Rivers Press. ‘Audacity of Hope...’ was published by Three Rivers and Crown publishers in 2006.
The latter inched up to the number one slot on amazon.com and The New York Times bestsellers` list after Obama with wife Michelle were interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on her show barely days after the book was published.
In the book, the president touches upon many of the subjects that became part of his 2008 campaign.
The initial advance from the publishers amounted to USD 1.9 million. Obama announced his presidential campaign Feb 7, 2007 - a little more than three months after the release of the ‘The Audacity of Hope...’
According to reports in the US media, Obama earned nearly USD 2.5 million in royalties from the sale of his two books in 2008. He was richer by USD 500,000 more Jan 15, 2009 just before taking office as president, when he signed a deal for an abridged version of ‘Dreams From My Father’ suitable for middle grade or young adult readers.
The tome is a nostalgic memoir of the president`s early years, when he was planning to make inroads into politics. It chronicles his childhood in Honolulu and his travels through Asia as a young man.
The book has several references to India.
"The two books are selling more now. One of the reasons could be the president`s visit to India this week. Just this morning we sold two copies of ‘Dreams...,’ a spokesperson for Bahrisons told reporters.
In the last week, the shop has sold six copies of the book, "which is rather unusual". It still has five editions of the books on the shelf. ‘The Audacity of Hope’... is selling well too," the spokesperson said.
The shop has sold more than 50 copies of ‘Obama`s Wars’.
Oxford Bookstore in Connaught Place has sold more than 20 copies of ‘Dreams From My Father’ last week. The shop has a stockpile of 32 copies of the book.
"We expect the sales to go up this week. The buyers are mostly young college students. We also sold four copies of `The Audacity of Hope`...`Obama`s Wars` is in great demand. We think the presidential visit accounts for the sharp rise in demand," a spokesperson for the Oxford Bookstore told reporters.
‘Obama`s Wars’ and ‘Dreams From my Father...’ are also doing good business at the Om Book in Connaught Place and at the Crossword Bookstore in Saket, enquiries by reporters revealed.