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Obama and book sales

November 26, 2008 | 12:36 pm

Obamawithlincolnbook Execs at HarperCollins were excited (and understandably so) when President-elect Barack Obama was recently spotted leaving a friend's home with one of their books in hand: Fred Kaplan's "Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer." Our lead blogger Carolyn Kellogg has already talked about Obama's interest in Lincoln and Lincoln's writings, and now it's interesting to see Obama specifically identify a book which Shakespeare authority Jack Lynch reviewed for us not long ago.

Considering all the attention directed at Obama's rhetoric, and at his efforts to craft his own speeches, perhaps the president-elect is just seeking inspiration from another president who also had his hands full with crises and still found time for composition.

And talk about product placement. There is plenty of discussion already about what the Obama effect -- rather than Oprah's -- might mean for the book industry over the next four years.  It's just the sort of good news to hear when many publishers, like other firms, are being affected by economic turmoil. Jacket Copy has already reported the news about Houghton Mifflin Harcourt temporarily halting its acquisition of new books. The news was stunning, especially considering this is the publisher of important writers including Cynthia Ozick, Jonathan Safran Foer, Philip Roth and J.R.R. Tolkien. With Obama's clear interest in books established, perhaps a literary bailout might be in order? Stay tuned.

-- Nick Owchar

Photo: Associated Press