Book publishers got a pleasant surprise this weekend when Oprah Winfrey announced she has relaunched her influential book club—the imprimatur of debatable literary value (Jonathan Franzen famously sniffed at it) that can drive enough sales to put an obscure author on the map or keep an imprint in the black. (Mr. Franzen came crawling back for his next novel.)
As Ms. Winfrey tells it, she had to bring back the club because she loved Cheryl Strayed‘s hiking memoir Wild so much.
“I was on the edge of my seat reading the book,” Ms. Winfrey said in the announcement video below, posted on Friday. “I was like, ‘Where is the Oprah Winfrey Show when you need to announce and tell everybody about this book? [You canceled it in order to start your own cable channel, Ms. Winfrey!] I need Book Club. So I created Book Club 2.0 for this book.”
Ms. Strayed’s story of loss and survival does seem tailor-made for Oprah’s Book Club and, as our own Drew Grant pointed out, Ms. Strayed’s popular advice column at The Rumpus, “Dear Sugar,” has already made her the Oprah of the Internet.
The “2.0″ means that Ms. Strayed will be interacting with Oprah Book Club members on Twitter and Facebook and that a special Oprah’s Book Club ebook version will include Ms. Winfrey’s marginalia.
The Book Club 2.0 will be promoted on the poorly rated Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and in O: The Oprah Magazine, making it an interesting measure of Ms. Winfrey’s post-network television influence.