— LET THERE BE BEST-SELLERS AGAIN That sound you hear is the publishing industry’s collective sigh of relief: Oprah Winfrey has just announced she’s starting another book club, tentatively called ”Traveling With the Classics.” ”I am going back into the business of recommending books…but with a difference,” she told the Association of American Publishers at its annual meeting Feb. 26. Her show will feature classic works of literature — ”books that we promised ourselves we’d get around to reading” — three to five times a year. While publishers are happy about another Oprah Book Club, they’re waiting to see how it will work with books in the public domain, some of which are printed by many houses. ”It’s great news,” says Penguin president and publisher Kathryn Court. ”But you can’t have 10 publishers leaping on this…you’ll have more books than you might need.” On the other hand, ”if they don’t tell everyone in advance like they used to, there aren’t going to be enough.” A spokesperson for Winfrey’s Harpo Productions says, ”We’re still in the planning stages.” Details will be announced on the show this season.
— TOMMY ACHES He may be Misunderstood, but at least now he can explain why: Former Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee has reached a deal with Atria to write his autobiography with journalist Lonn Friend. Misunderstood, Friend writes in the proposal, will dig into ”Tommy’s two incendiary marriages, fatherhood…jail time…his current relationship with Prince’s former wife, Mayte Garcia…no subject is off-limits.”
— WINNERS’ CIRCLE There was controversy at the National Book Critics Circle awards — picketers protested the nomination of William Langewiesche’s American Ground, which alleged misconduct among firefighters at Ground Zero — but few upsets, unless you count Janet Browne’s Charles Darwin beating out Robert A. Caro’s Master of the Senate for the biography prize. Samantha Power beat Langewiesche in general nonfiction for her book on genocide, A Problem From Hell, and Ian McEwan was the fiction winner for Atonement.