April 09, 2002 12:39 PM

Katie Couric is going to be cracking the books. In the wake of Oprah Winfrey’s decision, announced last Friday, that she is scaling back the number of books she will promote in her on-air book club, comes news that NBC’s “Today” show is launching a club of its own come June. “We saw a void and were immediately interested in filling it,” “Today” executive producer Jonathan Wald told New York’s Daily News. “Oprah has done such a terrific job of encouraging America to read. We look forward to carrying on that tradition, with some new elements of our own, to celebrate America’s fascination with the written word.” The way the “Today” club will work, says the paper, is not to have Couric or cohost Matt Lauer recommend titles but, rather, top-selling authors will be asked to suggest books written by undiscovered writers. A month after an initial suggestion is made, “Today” will welcome the author and members of community book clubs across America to discuss the recommended book on the air. “We make no bones about it: when Oprah decided not select her books on a monthly basis, it was an opportunity for us,” NBC spokeswoman Allison Gollust told Reuters. Since 1996, Winfrey’s club has helped promote some 46 titles to the top of the bestseller lists. The scaling back of her club was met with a loud “ouch” in New York publishing circles last Friday.

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