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Inside Move: Book biz hails Oprah’s return

Other tome touters lacked yak queen's touch

Oprah’s book club is back, and not a moment too soon for the publishing biz.

Booksellers say it was a sad day in April 2002 when Winfrey hung up her book-picking spurs, pleading fatigue over the responsibility of choosing America’s reading list. Her literary anointing translated to millions of dollars in book sales.

Perhaps it was her newfound embrace of the classics (the theme of the new-model Oprah Book Club), or perhaps the pending chat competish from Jane Pauley, but Oprah is ready to pore over many a backlist.

Several new pretenders have emerged during her hiatus, including book selections from ayemers “Good Morning America,” “The Today Show” and Kelly Ripa. But none had Oprah’s magic touch.

Penguin Putnam is the first beneficiary of Oprah’s return as publisher of her first pick, John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.” The publisher reportedly has ordered a new print run of 600,000 copies of the classic, which had been a very slow (if steady) seller.

Unlike the old club, which touted one new title per month, the new incarnation will aim for three to five titles a year.