Sunday, February 26, 2017

Celebrity Inspired Book Clubs

 “From Obscurity to Bestseller: Examining the Impact of Oprah's Book Club Selections”
Butler, R., Cowan, B., & Nilsson, S.

Reading the article over Oprah’s influence reminded me of an episode of the television show, Parks and Recreation . In the episode Leslie Knop is trying to get her book added into a tv host’s book club, “Joan’s Book Club”, so that it can gain popularity. Leslie demonstrates the boost the club gives to books by describing a book that had no popularity before being added and then that it becomes “best seller, four years in a row” after Joan makes it her pick. While the exaggeration is used for humor, the idea is very similar in the case Bulter, et. al. make in their article over Oprah. 

The research that the authors did revealed that the books chosen for Oprah’s book club
 not only experienced popularity directly after their selection but also had popularity after this initial surge. While in later years Oprah’s influence was shown to wane, her books still had a better than average bestseller life then the “average bestseller”. It’s interesting to think that a celebrity could have such an effect on a book even if its quality wasn’t up to being a bestseller. Going back to my mention of the tv episode, it’s almost like the person who has picked the book gives more influence to the reader’s opinion then an actual review. I can understand someone taking the opinion of a close friend over a stranger’s review, but what is it about celebrities that make us trust their word? Is it the fact that they are a celebrity, and somehow their word carries more weight, or does it have something to do with us not considering them strangers?

The article brings up an interesting idea of how much a celebrity could influence a book’s sales. When you think about it, what more authority does Oprah have to say a book is good than anyone else? What I found most interesting in the article was the decline in popularity of the book club and what reasons could be behind the fall. The authors speculate but no strong evidence is given for a true reason, however, one idea was the decline of quality of the books chosen. This may be due to the rather narrow area Oprah picks from, but it’s interesting to think that perhaps people no longer choose her picks because they’ve found they aren’t to their taste. It shows that reading a book simply for the person who’s suggested it doesn’t guarantee you will enjoy it as well.


  1. Hello Taylor! I agree with your comments on the Oprah's Book Club article. The authors obviously went into great detail determining the statistics for this article. In my post on this article, I wrote how people may want to read the books celebrities "read," even if they don't actually read them themselves. Celebrities who mention books increase people's awareness of these books, making people more likely to ask about and read them.

  2. Taylor, I also thought of that Parks and Recreation episode. :) It really is a direct satirical representation of Oprah's influence on book sales. I also agree with your last statement, taking reading recommendations from someone who is not recommending based on your own taste will eventually become uninteresting to you.

  3. Wonderful post! I love the parks and rec tie in, good pop culture reference, full points!