Shelf Life has learned that a quote from Pres. Barack Obama has been removed from the book jacket of Hard Work: A Life On and Off the Court, a memoir by University of North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams that will be published by Algonquin in November.
Here’s the quote: “What makes Coach Williams one of the great coaches isn’t just his extraordinary record, but his dedication to his players. He’s just as serious about making these guys into men and into leaders as he is into making them champions.” Obama, who made the statement when he stopped to shoot hoops with the Tar Heels team during his campaign last year, clearly intended to extol Williams the man and not to blurb the legendary coach’s book (which has been getting rave advance notices). According to a publicist for Algonquin, the company has deleted the statement from the jacket after consulting with its legal team, which determined that sitting presidents cannot make commercial endorsements. A staffer at the The White House press office confirms this: “As a general matter, the White House does not authorize the use of the President’s likeness or words for commercial purposes.”
Interestingly, though, recent printings of the paperback edition of Joseph O’Neill’s 2008 novel Netherland include a sticker with this blurb (a quote pulled from an Obama interview published last spring): “‘Fascinating…A wonderful book.’ President Barack Obama, Newsweek.” Vintage, the book’s publisher, did not check with the White House before issuing the stickered edition. (with reporting by Keith Staskiewicz)