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Harry Potter and the Publisher’s Profits

Hold up!

See that little date above?

This post was published years ago.

My opinions have changed over time: I think it's quite fun to keep old posts online so that you can see how that has happened. The downside is that there are posts on this site that express views that I now find offensive, or use language in ways I'd never dream of using it today.

I don't believe in airbrushing history, but I do believe that it's important to acknowledge the obvious: some of what I've written in the past has been crap. Some of it was offensive. Some of it was offensively bad. And there's may be some brass among the muck (you can make up your own mind on that).

Some of what I've presented as my own views has been me—wittingly or unwittingly—posturing without having considered all the facts. In a few years, I'll probably think the same about what I'm writing today, and I'm fine with that. Things change. People grow. Society moves forward.

The internet moves on too, which means there might be broken links or embedded content that fails to load. If you're unlucky, that might mean that this post makes no sense at all.

So please consider yourself duly warned: this post is an historical artefact. It's not an exposition of my current views nor a piece of 'content' than necessarily 'works'.

You may now read on... and in most cases, the post you're about to read is considerably shorter than this warning box, so brace for disappointment.


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

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Comments and responses

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)


    11.06, 18/07/2005

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


    13.58, 02/06/2007

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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