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Michelle Obama Joins YouTube’s Book Panel Discussion Special

YouTube has tapped Michelle Obama to headline an original special, “BookTube,” slated to debut next month during Women’s History Month.

The former First Lady will discuss her bestselling memoir “Becoming” with a panel of YouTubers.  John Green — best-selling author of books including “The Fault in Our Stars” and co-founder of YouTube channels vlogbrothers and Crash Course — will moderate the discussion. Along with Michelle Obama, the special will feature a panel of YouTube creators including Jouelzy, Ariel Bissett, Kat O’Keeffe, Jesse George and Franchesca Ramsey.

YouTube plans to release the original special in March, to be available for free, with an exact date yet to be determined. “BookTube” will comprise seven short-form “chapters,” each under 10 minutes, based on the questions from the YouTube creators for Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” was first released Nov. 13, 2018, by Penguin Random House’s Crown Publishing, and is being published in 44 languages around the world. The book was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller after one week of sales, and to date has sold more than 5.9 million units in all formats and editions in the U.S. and Canada.

Separately, Barack and Michelle Obama have established a production company, Higher Ground Productions, which has a multiyear development deal with Netflix. On Tuesday, Higher Ground named Priya Swaminathan, formerly with Annapurna, and Tonia Davis, who hails from Chernin Entertainment, as co-heads of the venture.

The “BookTube” special featuring Michelle Obama comes from the YouTube Originals group, led by global head of original content Susanne Daniels.

Last fall, YouTube switched up its strategy on original productions to what it calls “Single Slate,” under which it will make all of its originals available on a free, ad-supported basis — signaling a move toward projects with broad, mainstream appeal rather than those built around YouTube personalities. In many cases, YouTube will window series and movies to premiere first on the YouTube Premium subscription service before making them available for free.

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