What's next for Oprah – and her book club

Oprah's moving on the Next Chapter. What will that mean for her book club?

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They call it "the Oprah effect" and it's hard to overestimate. Business Week once reported that the power of Oprah Winfrey's television book club to sell books was somewhere between 20 and 100 times greater than that of any other media personality.

Now, Oprah is reported to be moving on. The Wall Street Journal says that she will be hosting an evening show called "Oprah's Next Chapter" on her own new cable network (OWN) starting late next year.

Oprah told the Journal that the show – which would last an hour and air as often as two or three times a week – would take her out of the studio and around the world. "I'm going to take viewers with me, going to take celebrities I want to interview with me," she said, mentioning locales such as Egypt and China.

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The good news for the book world is that Oprah also said that she may appear in other OWN shows "including a possible book-club show."

Oprah's book picks may not have been many of late (three in the past two years), but they remain powerful.

Since she began her book club in 1996, the memorable moments have been many. There have been the winners (Wally Lamb, Eckhart Tolle, and David Wroblewski, to name just a few) and there have been the losers (James Frey, Herman Rosenblat, and Jonathan Franzen come quickly to mind).

But Oprah's own favorite book-club memory (at least, it's the one book-club segment that she cites in her own list of top 20 on-air moments) is the audience member who told her that she'd never read an entire book until Oprah started her club.

It can only be a plus – for those who love books as well as those who sell them – to see that "possible book-club show" become a reality.

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.

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