‘Booknotes’ Enters Its Last Chapter

Posted August 13, 2004 at 1:07pm

After more than 15 years and 800 interviews, C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb announced last week that “Booknotes,” the public affairs network’s longest running interview program, will feature its last author and last book during the show’s last hour on Dec. 5.

The show, which first debuted in 1989, has become well-known by viewers and publishers as a forum for writers of history, politics and public affairs. Using the slogan “One book. One author. One hour,” Lamb has hosted world leaders such as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, best-selling author Frank McCourt, and singer David Crosby.

In a press release last week, Lamb said “Booknotes” will be replaced by a new interview show called “Q&A” that he also will host. “Q&A” will feature guests from many fields including politics, science, history and medicine, as well as authors.

“We’ll look for different but topical issues and people that aren’t being seen and heard elsewhere on TV,” Lamb said.

Lamb, who admitted he’s been thinking about hanging up the reigns of “Booknotes” on and off for about a year, said the main reason he is ending the series is to reclaim some personal time. He estimated that he spends about 20 hours each week reading and preparing for the Sunday night show.

“When you add it all up, I’ve committed about 1.8 years of my life reading books for the series. It’s time to use all those hours in other ways,” he said.

“I think there’s a little bit of relief, a little bit of wistfulness and a little bit of ‘let’s stop while this is still fun,’” said C-SPAN media relations manager Robin Scullin, who produced “Booknotes” for more than three years. Lamb “achieved his goal of bringing books into an intimate conversational setting and we’ve extended our goal by having ‘Booknotes’ morph into 48 hours of Book TV,” Scullin said, referring to C-SPAN2’s weekly nonfiction book programming, which began in 1998.

C-SPAN has not yet announced which author will appear on the last “Booknotes” show on Dec. 5 or the topic of the first “Q&A” show, which will premiere the following Sunday, Dec. 12.