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Harry Potter and the Publisher’s Profits

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Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 13 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. Not everything that is old is bad. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured.

But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views might very well have changed in the 13 years since I wrote this post. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find pretty embarrassing today.
  • This post might use language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate or offensive.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...


Bloomsbury spent £1,000,000 advertising the latest Harry Potter book.

In the first 24 hours, it is thought that they have sold 10,000,000 copies, with an RRP of £16.99. Including – I have to admit – one to me.

Now that’s good business. What other product sells 10,000,000 units in 24hrs?

But is it good literature? Well I’ve not read it yet, so I can’t really comment. But I think it’s fair to say that it’s getting an awful lot of children reading, and that can be no bad thing, as long as they move on to other books. Literature is a fantastic gift, but we shouldn’t be celebrating that kids are reading this one series, as that gives no representation of the wider literary scene. Going on the form of the first five books, Ms Rowling doesn’t provide the best literary experience, as she – frankly – isn’t the best writer in the world. She’s been quite successful so far, though, so I don’t really think it’s for me to criticse. Of course, the Daily Mail, in its role as official criticiser of all modern trends, made something of a lacklustre attempt to crticise the novel yesterday, but – unusually for the Mail – it was clear that their heart really wasn’t in it. That particular column appears not to be online, but this piece, confidently declaring that the sixth novel would be called ‘Harry Potter and the Mudblood Revolt’, is online. Well, at least they got the first three words right.

One thing that has surprised me about the latest Potter book is the huge differences in high street prices – wandering down my local high street this morning, I saw prices varying from £8.99 to £11.99, and it would appear that, had I looked more closely, I could have found prices varying from £4.99 to £16.99. That’s a difference of £12. I would have expected all the shops to have been charging largely similar prices – why would anyone pay £16.99 for a book they could pick up for £4.99 just metres down the road? Yet many people were. Perhaps it’s one of Harry’s spells.

I’m sure I’ll be publishing more about Harry when I’ve read it – whenever that might be. But, for now, I’m off to reflect on how much richer JK Rowling is tonight than she was last night, and wonder how that must feel for her. Oh, and maybe read a bit of Harry Potter, too.

This 677th post was filed under: Book Club, News and Comment.

More posts worth reading

What I’ve been reading this month (published 3rd December 2018)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 3rd November 2018)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 6th October 2018)

Thoughts for 2008-02-25 (published 25th February 2008)

Hospitals deny patients facts on death rates (published 16th March 2005)

Driverless cars, algorithms and the ethics of valuing of human life (published 11th February 2015)

Photo-a-day 319: Can I park here? (published 14th November 2012)


Comments and responses

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)


by sjhoward

Comment posted at 11:06 on 18th July 2005.

The latest figures show that the books was selling tens of copies per second at various chains, and the whole series has given the author an estimated £1bn fortune.


Comment from Ian


by Ian

Comment posted at 13:58 on 2nd June 2007.

I think that it would be a bit harsh to criticize JK’s authorial style -she is indeed only one author, but who’se to say what literature is appropriate and what is not? I understand your point though -hopefully Harry Potter will inspire people to read other literature.

Reading is so important for children, it is a skill that is still needed in the 21st century! I do think though that children should be encouraged to read for ‘fun’ as opposed to as a ‘chore’, often, schools make children read books that don’t interest them.


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