Going where Oprah Winfrey has gone twice before, NBC's Today launched a book club this morning, in what is potentially good news for the publishing world — if only the book club succeeds in driving sales. The first pick is Samantha Shannon's much-buzzed-about The Bone Season, which is being published today.
Love it-big supporter of large scale book clubs-get people talking, reading ‘Today’ Is Starting Oprah-like Book Club http://t.co/JCGL1jAenw— Lauren Belle (@lbhartwick) August 20, 2013
An announcement on the Today show's site said that the book club will be
a fresh and interactive digital discussion series focused on great reads from up-and-coming authors and old favorites alike, launches August 20. Book lovers will have a chance to share their thoughts and insights with the TODAY anchors, featured authors, and other fans through regular Google Hangouts.
Shannon will chat about The Bone Season in a Google Hangout on September 16. New books will reportedly be chosen every month or so.
As The New York Times reports, Today previously had a book club that "faded about a decade ago." This time around, both NBC producers and book publishers are hoping that the book club attracts digitally-savvy fans who wants to discuss literature on social media sites (the book club has a hashtag, #TODAYBookClub).
As one publisher told The Times, "One can't overstate the importance of a nationally televised book club." Though it's not clear how often authors will actually appear on the morning show — which trails ABC's Good Morning America in ratings — branding like book stickers emblazoned with the Today logo could entice customers.
That, of course, is a classic Oprah Winfrey's stratagem. Her first book club, which started in 1996 and ended in 2011, helped make unknown authors famous while making accessible the works of Leo Tolstoy and Toni Morrison. As Little, Brown chief Michael Pietsch told USA Today back in 2011, she "didn't originate the idea of book clubs, but more than anyone, she has spread the idea of reading a book as a shared community."
Obviously, the Today book club hopes to engender such a community as well, even if it has to compete with Oprah's Book Club 2.0, which started up in the summer of 2012. It, too, is geared towards a more digitally-savvy audience. Reporting on the Today book club, Deadline Hollywood said the development "looks like a win for the publishing industry." NBC surely hopes its a win for its morning lineup, too.