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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Books and “The Oprah Effect”


Oprah airs her last show today. Among her legacies is the readership she brought to more than 70 books during her long-running book club. According to USA Today ("How the 'Oprah Effect' Changed Publishing," May 24, 2011), one marketing professor estimates sales of “Oprah editions” totaled 55 million copies.

Here at the library, the holds list for Oprah’s books became so overwhelming in the mid-1990s that we and other libraries throughout the country arranged with Oprah’s staff and our vendors to order the monthly selection in advance, not even knowing the title.

While some didn’t embrace the emotional appeal of early selections, no one disputes the power of her recommendations. As an example, when she decided to move to the classics, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina topped the USA Today’s bestseller list in 2004.

It is also a testament to her influence that you can still find 161 listings under the subject heading “Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club Selections” in our catalog.

Jacquelyn Mitchard’s The Deep End of the Ocean was Oprah’s first book club selection on Sept. 17, 1994. Here are a few of the others:

White Oleander by Janet Fitch

Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Map of the World by Jane Hamilton

Paradise by Toni Morrison

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