Books on Television


Television is a great way to sell books. Oprah’s Book Club is the best known example, but Edan Lepucki‘s bestselling debut California certainly owed some of its success to the Colbert Bump. But The Colbert Report has ended, and Jon Stewart, another populist book advocate, is leaving The Daily Show. So where does that leave books, Melville House asks:

Which is not to say, of course, that Comedy Central began to make time for Blake Butler or Lars Iyer or Amelia Gray, or that they regularly took chances on debut authors—or even that they were particularly good friends to fiction—but they made time nonetheless. Stewart and Colbert could have easily limited their format to the typical late-night guests (celebrities hawking a new film) or traditional news magazine guests (journalists covering an important story of the day) but they didn’t. They broadened the possibilities of their format.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →