'Today' is now the home of a book club

NBC's 'Today' show will be picking monthly titles for a book club, with Samantha Shannon's 'The Bone Season' serving as the first selection.

Peter Kramer/NBC/AP
'Today' currently has Matt Lauer (second from r.) and Savannah Guthrie (second from l.) as co-anchors, with Natalie Morales (l.) serving as news anchor and co-anchor of the third hour of the show and Al Roker (r.) as co-anchor and weather and feature anchor.

Another book club is coming to television: NBC's “Today” show will be the center of a new program that will select both new releases and older titles to read and discuss with viewers.

The first pick for the club is the fantasy novel “The Bone Season” by Samantha Shannon. The “Today” website called the new group “a fresh and interactive digital discussion series” and said Google Hangouts will be a part of the club, with readers able to share their thoughts on the book with the “Today” anchors, other viewers, and writers. Shannon will take part in a Hangout about her book that will be hosted by “Today” news anchor Natalie Rhodes on Sept. 16.

“[It’s] so amazing," Shannon said of the news, according to “Today.” "I just never imagined that [the book] would get to that kind of level.”

An excerpt of “The Bone Season” is available on the “Today” website. "Today" has not yet said whether the book chosen each month or so will be discussed only via the Google Hangout or whether the book club will be part of the show as well. 

Will being chosen by “Today” give books the same kind of sales bump that Oprah Winfrey used to bestow on the titles chosen for her book club? It certainly can't hurt, given the program's more than 4 million daily viewers. New York Times writer Julie Bosman called the book club “a happy development for a publishing industry frustrated by years of shrinking television time devoted to authors.”

Bloomsbury spokesperson Sara Mercurio told the NYT that orders of the novel (it comes out today) from bookstores almost doubled when the news about the “Today” pick surfaced.

“One can’t overstate the importance of a nationally televised book club,” she said. “I think it will have a huge impact on this book and on the publishing industry.” 

“Today” did launch a book club about a decade ago, but it was phased out.

Even before its selection by "Today," Shannon’s book was already getting significant buzz in the publishing world. "The Bone Season" is the first book in what is projected to be a planned seven-part series.

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