Wednesday, May. 25, 2011

The Book Club

In 1996, Oprah launched her now-famous Book Club, an institution with unparalleled power in today's publishing world. The first selection, The Deep End of the Ocean, then a little-known novel, became a best-seller; three years later, it was turned into a movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer. Since then, Oprah has chosen to tout more than 60 books, which customarily benefit from the major sales boost that comes with Winfrey's seal of approval. The club has not been without its controversy: not all authors have been grateful for their selection (Jonathan Franzen said Oprah's "schmaltzy, one-dimensional" selections made him "cringe"), and Oprah herself apologized for picking James Frey memoir A Million Little Pieces selection, which turned out to have been partially fabricated. Still, few can argue that Winfrey's ability to get so many people to pick up books is anything less than a fantastic feat.