Nice article –Pottermania — which camp are you in? BY ANA VECIANA-SUAREZ – Miami Herald

The frenzy has long been in the making, frothed up by a fawning media and faithful fans, but it truly turned serious at one minute after midnight this morning, when the sixth book — and second to the last installment — of you-know-who’s saga went on sale. Its release divided the world, or at least the world of my immediate vicinity, into two camps: Pottermaniacs and the rest who just don’t get it.

Whether you realize it or not, you belong to one side or the other. Choose now or forever be left out. (Clue: If you don’t know what I’m talking about, if you have no idea why so much has been made over a mysterious half-blood prince and some orphan wizard boy, you’re most definitely not in.)

Both camps look at each other with a mix of disbelief and disdain. There have been converts, true, but by all counts and if my keen observation proves correct, the majority of those who have an opinion on Harry Potter and his magical friends at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry remain steadfast in either their devotion or their denial.

I know of people, perfectly sane, perfectly responsible, perfectly adultlike, who order their Potter book weeks ahead and, at the stroke of midnight, costumed children in tow, visit Books & Books for their very own copy. They’re among the thousands who will attend the estimated 2,500 Potter Parties across the country. In real life — if there is such a thing — they’re simple Muggles with desk jobs and mortgages.

Equally comfortable in a life of water cooler discussions and children’s sports practices is the other set. They watch such behavior with mock horror and can’t figure out why sleep-deprived parents (and this is about parents, after all, not their kids) stayed up late Friday night to purchase a book the absolute moment it became legal to do so. Why not just buy it on Saturday morning at a normal hour?

”It’s a kids’ book, for Pete’s sake,” they exclaim, with a righteous nod of their collective head. “Grow up!”

Well, most of us, fanatic or not, should know by now that this isn’t just any kids book. J.K. Rowling’s series is a publishing phenomenon, a fascinating entry in the history of literature that has sparked all kind of theories about marketing and reading. In the United States alone, 102 million copies of the preceding five books have been published. They’ve been translated into 62 languages and have chalked up 270 million copies sold.


I haven’t read any of the HP books, I glimpsed at one and found it boring. Not that I am the intended audience. But I was curious about what in the first book captivated so many kids. So I asked someone and they explained to me the initial plot set up and I can see why (orphan type boy fighting against mean adults -others) can be a type of plot that will strike a major chord with kids and adolescents.

I have watched the movie, which I thought was very nicely done, and gave me more clues of why children identify so much with the characters. There are some important empowering messages for kids on an emotional level. That was my brief analysis.


In the era of video games and instant messaging, how does a book bring such a motley crew of readers together?

The answer, I think, can be found between the covers. A good yarn, captivating characters, a universe imagined from whole cloth — these will always make for a good read. But the series was blessed with something else, too, something of great importance in the media age: an incredible marketing machine that has masterfully pumped up anticipation.

Can this mega-success of sales be so much simply a product of modern marketing masterminding? The publishers’ tactics are all very smart, but they are nothing more than that. Nothing that any publisher couldn’t apply to any other book. So why does only HP sell this staggering 270 million copies? This is the population of several European countries put together! And if Rollings rolls out a book a year, although apparently the series now is ended or something like that, in ten years, she would sell more than 2 billion books…

And what amazes me too is that the size of the books is not trivial. Each volume is huge, even for adults, that’s a major read.

Anyways, since I haven’t come across any information that implies there is something wrong or negative with the books, although I’m sure we could always wish for improvements, all the better for the kids to have such an engrossing series of books to read.

Maybe now Rollings should start her Sally Potter series.

Found some interesting additional article bits – UPDATED JUL 20:

Publishing vs. movie and TV

The publishing industry has long put economic returns above artistic achievements. But Bloomsbury stands out by clinging to its traditional regime despite dramatic changes in this sector, untouched by the hot wave of cooperation between publishers and multi-media groups. Heidelberg predicts that by 2010 printed media will only take up a 48 percent market share with the other 52 percent held by e-media.

Profit driven, many publishers choose to bind themselves with competitive multi-media groups and cut staff and costs at the same time. Cooperation between Viacom and Simon & Schuster and that between News Corporation and HarperCollins are of this kind. Despite that, many publishers remain in the red, for everybody knows a sales miracle like Potter is rare. The United States saw 195,000 kinds of books published in 2004, but only a limited number of them turned out profitable.

The success of Harry Potter on the other hand reveals the disadvantageous position of publishers: they are not given economic returns other than the copyright once a book turns out a blockbuster, such as those brought by book-turned movies and TV series. Bloomsbury depends on the 16 million pounds brought by Potter last year for its other commercial plans. But in contrast, Time Warner, who brought Potter’s movie copyrights and the right to put it into other commercial operations, reaped 984 million US dollars in the box office of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone alone.

Harry Potter and the Compendium of Utterly Useless Trivia

1 If all the published copies, hardback and paperback, in all translations, of the six Harry Potter books were laid flat, edge to edge, they would entirely cover Brazil.

2 If, however, the Brazilian rainforest continued to be reduced at the current rate, by the afternoon of April 17, 2057, there would be room only for a single-volume tower of all the published copies of the, by then, seven Harry Potter books. It would be 48,977 miles high. It would be the only pile of books visible from Mars.

Rowling dreads ‘The End’ to Potter
Latest Potter sells a record 9 million copies, set to be fastest selling book ever

In the interview, Rowling said she had mixed feelings about ending the saga of the boy wizard.

‘‘I am dreading it in some ways. I do love writing the books and it is going to be a shock, a profound shock to me,’’ she said. ‘‘Even though I have known it is coming for the past 15 years, I have known that the series would end, I think it will still be a shock.’’

Before she sits down to start the seventh book, Rowling said she would take time off to spend with her six-month-old daughter Mackenzie Jean.

Meanwhile, Harry Potter fans in Britain and the US bought the latest Potter book at record speed, as Potter mania swept the planet from Scotland to Singapore, New York to New Delhi. In Britain alone, a record 20,09,574 copies flew off the shelves, said publisher Bloomsbury. Added to the 6.9 million copies sold over the same period in the US, almost nine million copies of the book were bought on the first day in those two countries alone.

If the Da Vinci Code was a mega success, why shouldn’t Harry Potter sell many more billions? It seems it doesn’t take all that much for big success, not that Rowlings doesn’t deserve credit. (More than Brown, that’s for sure.)