Ayem book bookings beat ‘Oprah’

Oprah Winfrey may sell more books, but morning news shows – and NBC’s “Today,” in particular – are better friends to publishers.

The top-rated ayem program has booked a whopping 226 authors in the first 10 months of this year, an average of more than one a day, according to a new study from ADT Research, while its next-closest competitor, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” booked 144 scribes. (ADT didn’t track CBS’ “This Morning,” where a local-national hybrid format limits author bookings.)

Historical comparisons weren’t available, but “Today’s” success – it eclipsed longtime leader “GMA” late in 1995 – has sparked publishers’ interest in author bookings there, which NBC has eagerly lapped up.

“There’s been no conscious change in our booking of authors,” said Jeff Zucker, “Today” exec producer. “We don’t have a quota for the number of books we will or will not do. We just want to do interesting topics. What has changed is publishers have become much more eager for their authors to appear on the ‘Today’ show when they have big books.”

Especially popular are self-help books, featured 94 times on “Today” during the survey period, vs. 64 on “GMA”; followed by general nonfiction authors (82 on “Today,” vs. 59 on “GMA”); and novelists (48 vs. 21).

“For certain kinds of books, a morning-show booking will be all the difference between moving a book into the mainstream awareness and out of stores and having it sink like a stone,” said Mary Bahr, head of publicity for the Free Press imprint of Simon & Schuster.

“Authors are willing performers for you,” explained Andrew Tyndall, ADT’s president. “You’ve got someone enthusiastic answering questions because they want to move their book.”

Tyndall wonders why “GMA” lags “Today” so badly in booking authors, but ABC producers say their own appetite hasn’t lessened.

“We’re very interested in books and authors; it’s an important part of what we do,” said Mark Lukasiewicz, “GMA” exec producer. But “it’s always about interesting stories and people,” he added, noting that “Angela’s Ashes” author Frank McCourt has appeared several times to comment on topics other than his own book.

(Jennifer Nix contributed to this story.)

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