What Oprah has done for books
Her impact on the book world was called the "Oprah Effect" for good reason – everything she touched became publishing gold.
She was like a fairy godmother to the book world: With a gushing endorsement and an "O" book seal publishers clamored for, Oprah Winfrey reinvigorated the book club, rocketed little-known authors to stardom, fetched a windfall for the publishing industry as a whole, and encouraged a nation to read.Skip to next paragraph
End to an era at legendary Paris bookshop Shakespeare and Company
'Daughter of Smoke and Bone' film rights acquired by Universal
Better World Books' bestseller list: more classics than new titles
More books, more choices: why America needs its indies
Is Slate's Amazon-defending blogger really a 'moron'?
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
It was called the "Oprah Effect" for good reason – everything she touched became publishing gold.
Now that she’s leaving – The Oprah Winfrey Show ends its 25-year run on Wednesday – what of her determined book boostering?
Publishers are eager to find out. Oprah’s effect on book reading and sales is almost supernatural.
Oprah’s Book Club began Sept. 17, 1996, with Jacquelyn Mitchard’s “The Deep End of the Ocean,” about the kidnapping of a child.
• Since then, she’s selected 70 books for Oprah’s Book Club.
• Fifty-nine of her books made The top 10 on USA Today’s bestseller list
• Twenty-two of her books were No. 1 on USA Today’s bestseller list
• Toni Morrison, whose books were chosen four times for Oprah’s Book Club (“Song of Solomon,” “Paradise,” “The Bluest Eye,” and “Sula” were all picked), got a bigger sales boost from Oprah than from winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Among Oprah’s other successes was bringing Leo Tolstoy’s 19th-century love story “Anna Karenina” to the No. 1 spot on many bestseller lists, including USA Today’s. She also helped sales of a little-known collection of short stories about Africa soar. “Say You’re One of Them” by Uwem Akpan had an initial print of 77,000. After Oprah endorsed the book, 780,000 more copies were printed.
Perhaps most telling, Oprah has helped sell some 55 million copies of her book club picks since 1996, according to Fordham University marketing professor Al Greco. “And there wasn’t a James Patterson or a John Grisham among them,” he told USA Today.