06.03.12

Oprah’s Book Club By the Numbers

The Daily Beast rounds up the numbers on the endorsement that helped bring literature to the masses.

A year after Oprah Winfrey closed the book on her legendary book club, the most successful talk show host in history is back with “Oprah’s Book Club 2.0." In an online video announcement last week, the OWN founder said that this new iteration of her once career-making club will be “way different from the old book club.” She’s embracing pixels as well as pages, promising that “this time, it’s an interactive, online club for our digital world.”

Oprah is launching the new club with Wild, a memoir published in March that recounts author Cheryl Strayed’s 1,100-mile hike through California and Washington State.

While it remains to be seen whether the new club will enjoy the same market power her original did before floundering in 2011, The Daily Beast looks back at the clout O’s endorsement once wielded.

1 – Author disinvited to Oprah’s show after dissing her book-club choice. Jonathan Franzen earned this distinction after his novel The Corrections was selected for the club, and Franzen said he was a tad discomfited by putting “that logo of corporate ownership” on his work.

2 – Dickens's novels, Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities, selected by Oprah’s book club in December of 2010. The talk-show host said that she hadn’t read any of Dickens’s work before selecting the classics.

3 – Books by Bill Cosby selected by Oprah in one year.

3 – Novels by Southern master William Faulkner selected by Oprah in 2005.

4 – Books by Toni Morrison selected by Oprah.

70 – Books Oprah’s book club officially selected between 1996 and 2011.

77,000 – Copies sold of Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan before getting the Oprah bump.

780,000 – Copies Akpan’s short-story collection sold after the “O” logo was stamped on the cover.

85,000 – Copies sold of James Frey’s controversial and heavily fictionalized memoir A Million Little Pieces purchased within four days of Oprah’s endorsement.

500,000 – Estimated copies a title was expected to sell after Oprah’s endorsement at the height of her club’s popularity.

720,000 – Copies sold of White Oleander, penned by previously unknown author Janet Finch, after Oprah gave the book her stamp of approval in 1999.

800,000 – Number of copies by which Penguin increased its press run of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky’s translation of Anna Karenina after the Tolstoy classic made Oprah’s list.

2 million – Estimated number of members in Oprah’s original club.

2,695,000 – Copies sold of A Million Little Pieces, as of 2011. Frey’s book ranks second among Oprah’s book-club bestsellers.

3,370,000 Copies sold of Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, as of 2011. Tolle’s book ranks first among Oprah’s book-club bestsellers.

22 million – Total number of Oprah’s branded book-club picks sold between 1996 and 2011.