Oprah’s New Book Club: My Journey Continues
I have to be careful when I write about Oprah Winfrey.
The worst joke I ever wrote for Dysfunctional Literacy was an Oprah joke. It was tasteless and really, really not funny. There’s a part of me that wants to get rid of it and delete it from Dysfunctional Literacy forever, but another part of me says: “Keep it. This is what happens when you write something every day just for the sake of writing something every day. This is what happens when you publish something before it is ready. Be shamed by this rotten Oprah joke and never do anything like this again!”
I think Oprah would call that a teachable moment.
Now that Oprah is renewing her book club, I want to comment on it, but I hesitate because of my previous disastrous experience writing about Oprah. Still, her Book Club 2.0 might become a big deal in the publishing industry, so I can’t ignore it. The industry is waiting to see what happens to book sales of her first selection. I almost have to write about it.
Oprah is doing more with her new book club than she used to. Oprah’s selections will be available on e-readers with notes and some kind of reader’s guide. That way, when her fans are having an emotional reaction to her book-of-the-month on the tablet or smart phone, curious passersby will think they’re crying at a sad text message and may offer consolation rather than derision for crying at an Oprah book in public.
There will also be a behind-the-scenes show on her cable network where viewers can watch Oprah reading her Book Club choice in real time and see Oprah emotionally reacting to the book (weeping, laughing, saying “Aha!” at key moments) while she reads.
It has to be tough for Oprah to read books when she has so many other things to do. Running a cable network (and a magazine too) is a lot harder than managing a talk show. A talk show is one hour a day. A cable network is 24 hours of content, and it’s tough to find 24 hours of content (or even 6 hours of good content repeated three times). Even the NFL Network, the BEST CABLE CHANNEL EVER, can’t find 24 hours of good content during the off season, and the NFL is way better than Oprah Winfrey.
That’s not an insult. The NFL is way better than any one person.
I could never buy an Oprah Book Club book, but that’s not an insult either. Whenever a book becomes popular, I’ve always had to have a copy that was printed before the book made it big. When I was a kid, I scoured used book stores for Ian Fleming James Bond books that didn’t have Sean Connery or Roger Moore on the cover. Later, when I reread The Lord of the Rings trilogy after movies came out, I dug through my storage room to find beat up paperbacks with the scratchy Middle Earth paintings so that I wouldn’t have to read a book with Elijah Wood or Orlando Bloom on the cover.
So even if I were to read an Oprah Book Club book (which I probably wouldn’t), I’d have to find a copy that was printed before it became an Oprah book, so it wouldn’t have the Oprah symbol on it. It’s a matter of pride.
Even though I’m not an Oprah Winfrey fan, I hope she finds success with her cable network and her new book club. Oprah could have coasted with her talk show, and instead she took a risk. I respect that. She has also admitted to some decision-making mistakes along the way, and I respect that too. She has also fired some people, and even though firing people seems to be unpopular right now, I really respect leaders who can make the tough choices and fire people. I think not enough people get fired. This country (and the world) would be in a lot better shape if more people got fired.
I know my opinion of Oprah doesn’t matter because I’m not Oprah’s target audience. I’m probably the kind of guy that Oprah’s audience complains about. But hey, I watched the Oprah episodes years ago when Dr. Phil first came on. Those were good.
I have to apologize to everybody that read this. I originally meant to write about Oprah Winfrey and how her new book club might affect the publishing industry, and instead I kept writing about myself. I think Oprah has that effect on people. I also was kidding about the television show where viewers can watch Oprah read her book in real time. I kind of feel bad about that, but not enough to cry or anything.