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NBC to Begin ‘Oprah’-Style Book Club

Winfrey said on Friday that “Oprah’s Book Club” recommendations would no longer serve as a regular feature on her program.

“It has become harder and harder to find books on a monthly basis that I feel absolutely compelled to share,” Winfrey said in a statement. “I will continue featuring books on The Oprah Winfrey Show when I feel they merit my heartfelt recommendation.”

Nora Rawlinson, editor-in-chief of Publishers Weekly, told The Los Angeles Times she found Winfrey’s statement “very disappointing,” and said “publishers will, and should, take offense at that.”

A Winfrey spokesman told reporters the host would continue to feature books she feels strongly about on her program, but the picks would no longer be a regular feature.

Announcing the new “Today” book club Monday, producers made no attempt to hide they were picking up where Winfrey left off.

“Oprah has done such a terrific job of encouraging America to read. We look forward to carrying on that tradition,” “Today” executive producer Jonathan Wald told The Washington Post.

“Today” already features books in various show segments, discussing about 200 books a year, the Post reports.

Winfrey began her version of the book club in 1996, vowing “to get the whole world reading again.”

The club sent hundreds of thousands of “Oprah” viewers to bookstores, turning the host’s 46 picks, some of which had been on the shelves for decades, into national bestsellers.

“For every book she picked, it was a guaranteed sale of 600,000 to 800,000 copies on top of what the books already sold,” Rawlinson told the LA Times. “That’s a significant number in publishing.”

Wald told reporters “Today” would ask a well-known author to pick a book from a lesser-known author for discussion on the program.

Anchors Katie Couric and Matt Lauer will host the segments, which Wald said will air for a half-hour beginning at 8:30 a.m., when the program’s audience, like Winfrey’s, is heavily weighted toward women.