Oprah's Book Club 2.0 Announced
“What in God’s name is Oprah reading right now? What does she think of it? What does she like about it?” If you’ve spent the last two years tortured by these questions, you can finally relax. The former talk-show host resurrected her bestseller-making book club on Monday with the selection of Wild by Cheryl Strayed, also known as the writer behind The Rumpus's popular “Dear Sugar” advice column. The memoir tells the story of one woman's life-changing 1,100-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail after the death of her mother and the failure of her marriage.
Middle-aged women are not the only ones who have been flung into a cultish fervor by the announcement. Publishers, authors, and book publicists are also predictably and justifiably ecstatic. From 1996 until 2011, the Oprah Effect shoved 70 selections up the bestseller list, often turning unknown authors into household names overnight. According to USA Today, Toni Morrison got a bigger sales boost from Winfrey than from winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Though the daytime TV queen no longer has the 12 million strong audience she did at her peak and her OWN cable network could definitely be doing better, Winfrey still has a monthly magazine, a weekly reality series, a strong online presence, and an army of followers keen to obey her every command. It will be interesting to see if she can deliver the Midas Touch she once did. So far, her announcement has moved Wild from #175 on Amazon to #12.
The online Book Club 2.0 has been modernized. In addition to standard paper books, the selections will also be available via special Kindle, iPad, and Nook editions that feature interactive extras such as highlighted text that opens up to reveal Oprah's thoughts about the passage (you know you were dying to know), all of Oprah's notes, and group discussion guides. Online, there'll be maps to help readers find other book club members in their area, tools to assist them in discussing the selections with one another, video of Oprah and the author answering readers' questions each week, aggregated tweets and Facebook posts about the book, and other fancy digital features.
How important is this news to the publishing world now that The Oprah Winfrey Show is over? Does her endorsement of a book influence your reading habits in any way?
Photo via Harpo Studios
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