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Lamb Closing C-SPAN’s Booknotes in Dec.

8/10/2004 8:38 AM Eastern

After 15 years and interviews with nearly 800 authors, C-SPAN founder and CEO Brian Lamb has decided to close the covers on Booknotes, the Sunday-evening program devoted to authors and their books on history and politics.

C-SPAN spokeswoman Robin Scullin said Lamb wanted to reclaim some personal time, noting that each one-hour program required 20 hours of preparation.

"When you add it all up, I've committed about 1.8 years of my life to reading books for the series. It's time to use all those hours in other ways,” Lamb said in a prepared statement.

C-SPAN is a public-affairs cable network launched by the cable industry 25 years ago and sustained today by fees paid by cable and satellite companies.

The first author to appear on Booknotes was Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter’s national-security adviser. Brzezinski was interviewed April 2, 1989, about his book, The Grand Failure.

Other Booknotes luminaries included British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev and Presidents George H.W. Bush, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter.

The last Booknotes is scheduled for Dec. 5. The book and the author have not been selected, but he or she will be the 800thBooknotes guest.

No author has been permitted to appear twice, Scullin said. As a result, the one-appearance rule precluded former President Bill Clinton from being able to discuss with Lamb his new bestseller, My Life. While serving as president, Clinton was interviewed in 1996 for his book, Between Hope and History.

Lamb isn’t yielding the Sunday time slot, as he plans to launch an interview program called Q&A to replace Booknotes. Lamb will quiz experts from the fields of politics, science, history and medicine. And on occasion, authors will be involved, Scullin said.

"We'll look for different, but topical issues and people who aren't being seen and heard elsewhere on TV," Lamb said.

Booknotes was no match for Oprah’s Book Club in terms of driving sales, but the publishing world valued the program, as well as C-SPAN II’s coverage of the book industry on the weekends, which will continue.

While coming to an end as a TV product, Booknotes will live on in cyberspace. C-SPAN will continue to archive every interview on its Web site (www.c-span.org), including the original video and transcripts.

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