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BuzzFeed, Celebs Team With NYC Mayor’s Office on Book-Reading Campaign

Variety logo Variety 2/2/2017 Todd Spangler
© Provided by Variety

New York City is bolstering its hometown book biz with a new campaign — executed in partnership with BuzzFeed — aimed at driving Big Apple bookworms to read the same books at the same time.

The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment this week launched “One Book, One New York,” with a series of videos highlighting celebrity testimonials for each of the five titles picked for the program. Readers will be able to vote for their favorite of the bunch.

The five nominated books, which each have a connection to the New York metro area, are: “Americanah,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; “Between the World and Me,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates; “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” by Junot Díaz; “The Sellout,” by Paul Beatty; and “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” by Betty Smith.

Videos promoting each book, produced in partnership with NYC-based BuzzFeed, feature William H. Macy (“Shameless”), Bebe Neuwirth (“Madame Secretary”), Giancarlo Esposito (“The Get Down”), comedian and commentator Larry Wilmore, and Danielle Brooks (“Orange Is the New Black”).

To select the five books finalists, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment formed a panel that included reps from the city’s three public library systems, NYC-based academics and members of the city’s publishing industry. Voting for “One Book, One New York” will take place through Feb. 28 online (at nyc.gov/onebook) and at interactive kiosks on subway platforms throughout New York City. The winning selection will be announced in early March followed by an event in early June.

“The publishing industry is a vital element of the city’s creative economy,” said Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin. “‘One Book, One New York’ will help readers connect with one another while rediscovering their local libraries and their independent neighborhood bookstores.”

BuzzFeed is “honored for the chance to spread the book love and get the word out through all five boroughs, so that everyone can partake and participate,” said Isaac Fitzgerald, the site’s books editor. “New York City has one of the most vibrant and flourishing literary cultures in the world.”

The five celebrity book promos are available to watch on YouTube: Bebe Neuwirth on “Americanah”Danielle Brooks on “Between the World and Me”Larry Wilmore on “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”Giancarlo Esposito on “The Sellout”; and William H. Macy on “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.”

The publishers of the five nominated books have provided copies of each title to NYC’s more than 200 library branches, amounting to more than 4,000 copies in all.

The Mayor’s Office noted that the city is home to the book biz’s “Big Five” publishers — Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan — along with prominent indie and academic publishing houses.

The city’s public-awareness campaign for “One Book, One New York” will be featured in NYC subways, on bus shelters, on LinkNYC street kiosks, via custom-designed subway platform kiosks all across the city, and on Taxi TV.

Pictured above: William H. Macy touts Betty Smith’s “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”

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