Oprah relaunches book club, saying 'I still believe in books'
Just in time for the summer reading season, Oprah Winfrey announced Friday that she's bringing back her book club. In a video posted on the website of her OWN network, Winfrey said, "This time, it's an interactive, online book club for our digital world. That's why we're calling it Book Club 2.0."
Her book club reboot is designed to take advantage of the new technologies available to readers. The e-book editions of her selections will be enhanced especially for the Oprah Book Club, with sharing capacities and notations from Winfrey herself. She also promises to use social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to conduct the discussion about the book.
In the online video [see after the jump], Winfrey said was so enthusiastic about a book that she had to revive her book club in order to share it. That book is Cheryl Strayed's "Wild," a memoir about her 1,110-mile hike down the Pacific Crest Trail.
Holding up a hardcover edition of "Wild" to the camera, Winfrey said, "I still believe in books." She urged readers in her book club to go and purchase the book from a neighborhood bookstore, if that was how they liked to read. Book Club 2.0 is not leaving print books behind.
Founded in 1996, Oprah's Book Club became a fast track to fame and bestsellerdom. Sometimes she picked new novels, like Janet Fitch's "White Oleander," or an older book, like Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye." After picking Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections" in 2001, a controversy erupted over comments he made, and Winfrey suspended the Book Club. When she brought it back, it was less frequent, and initially stuck to classic works. In 2010, in a grand gesture of reconciliation and forgiveness, she selected Franzen's next novel, "Freedom," and he appeared on her show. She officially retired the book club later that year.
Details about Oprah's Book Club 2.0 will be available in the forthcoming issue of "O Magazine," which hits shelves next week.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: James Earl Jones and Oprah Winfrey with their honorary Oscars at the 2012 Academy Awards. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times