August 17

This Day in History

Literary

Aug 17, 1993:

Random House gives Colin Powell largest autobiography advance to date

Random house agrees to pay Gen. Colin Powell an advance of about $6 million for the rights to his autobiography, My American Journey.

The deal followed fierce bidding wars between several major publishers. Powell was born to Jamaican immigrants, grew up in New York City, distinguished himself in the military, and served as an important presidential adviser until his retirement in September 1993. His book became an immediate bestseller.

Retired Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf reportedly obtained $5 million from Bantam Books to write his autobiography, It Doesn't Take a Hero, which sold more than 1 million hardcover copies. Powell's book, however, became the fastest-selling book in Random House history. Before the book even hit bookstores, Random House boosted its initial print run from 500,000 to 1.25 million.

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