“The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbors,
kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.”
Publishers and bookstores everywhere are rejoicing: Oprah is back in the book biz: relishing, reviewing, and renewing stories she adores, but with a whole new spin. She’s launching “Oprah’s Book Club 2.0” — a glitzy, digitally dressed up version of her old club. This time around, readers can opt for traditional, physical books or join the club interactively via social media and get specially created e-books with notes from Oprah.
Paginated or pixilated — who cares? The real story here is that Oprah’s love affair with books is great news for authors everywhere. And here’s why: A Fordham University marketing professor estimates that sales of Oprah’s editions of the 70 titles in her original book club totalled about 55 million copies — that’s right 55 million! Toni Morrison, who had four novels chosen by Oprah, says that she got a bigger boost in book sales from Oprah than she did from winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. Now that’s lit power!
When Oprah ended her original book club run in 2010, she wrapped up on a classical note: her last two picks were A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations — two of my all-time favorite novels by the great Charles Dickens. To kick off her new club, she’s gone contempo: Her first pick is the a memoir called Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
“It’s just a wild ride of a read,” enthuses Oprah on a video announcing her new club. “I love this book,” she says in the July issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, which will spotlight the new book club on its cover and feature an interview with Cheryl. “I want to shout it from the mountaintop. I want to shout it from the Web. In fact, I love this book so much and want to talk about it so much, I knew I had to reinvent my book club.”
I just love it that Oprah is back in the book game! She’s an author’s dream: she reads ravenously, loves being transported by a book, adores writers, and sings their praises from every corner of her media empire. “When it comes to a book, there is no better recommendation engine than a nod from Oprah,” said Paul Bogaards, a spokesman for Knopf, part of Random House and the publisher of Wild. How right he is!
Bravo, Oprah — long may you read — and recommend! Write on.