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Yet More Proof of Oprah’s Bookselling Omnipotence

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As if we needed any more reasons to either kiss Oprah’s feet or to kneel in fear of her power…

The New York Times reported in yesterday’s business section that Oprah’s bookselling influence affects just about any text she mentions on her show, not just the lucky few selected for her book club. The article, written by Juston Jones, examines last week’s appearance by novelist Terry McMillan. McMillan’s most recent novel, The Interruption of Everything, was released last July but the real reason for the author’s appearance on the show was to discuss her contentious divorce from husband Jonathan Plummer.

The short version is that the Plummer, twenty-three years younger than the author, met McMillan in Jamaica in 1995 and inspired How Stella Got Her Groove Back. The couple was married in 1998 but recently divorced after Plummer announced he is gay. The NYT article states that the hour-long appearance on Oprah focused on the marriage and divorce but “luckily for the author, Ms. Winfrey ended the show with a brief mention of The Interruption of Everything saying that she liked it so much that she bought the movie rights. That was enough to stir up sales.”

The day before McMillan’s appearance on the show, the novel had a ranking of higher than number 2,000 on Amazon. By the end of the week, the book was ranked lower than 150. [For those of you not yet obsessed by Amazon rankings, the point is to have the lower number. So number one on Amazon is the top selling book, which as of this writing, just happens to be another text touched by Saint Oprah: James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces] McMillan’s older work also enjoyed a sales spike after her appearance on the show. How Stella Got Her Groove Back was ranked higher than 120,000 before the show, afterwards it was about 60,000.