The only HP post from me...I promise

Harry Potter, the latest incarnation of child saviour, has just set a new records for books flying off the shelf...presumably without the aid of a magic wand. Scholastic is of course thrilled, JK Rowling is rolling in dough, and children at sleepaway camp finally have something to read rather than boring old ghost stories around the campfire. Even His Holiness got some ink by questioning whether Harry Potter squelches Christian values before they have time to develop.

A normally well balanced friend of mine is tearing her hair out about Harry.
"What the HELL is this madness about," she howled. "It's not even like they
are good books."

Of course not. For the madness of crowds and the lure of "must have" statistically you must appeal not to the top 10%, but to the top 30%. For ten MILLION people to buy books, you must have something akin to McDonalds burgers...good enough so adults can stand to eat one while the kids scarf down the "forbidden pleasure".

And why not? It's not like the kids are going to read something else instead of Harry. They'll choose from the array of activities available. Their menu is not McDonalds or Burger King, it's hamburgers, chicken, tacos, sushi , pizza and for the truly unlucky, a loving meal cooked at home by an adoring mom who probably doesn't let them eat junk food OR read Harry Potter.

This is not rational based economics we're seeing here.
This is just frenzy.
Yanno, like the tulips in Holland.
and the south sea bubble.
and the dot com boom of the 90's.

JK Rowling is VERY savvy in telling people the series is limited.
Sort of like DeBeers numbering diamonds.
"There could be more, but there won't. Don't miss out."


David J. Montgomery said...

Ah, Miss Snark, you're such a cynical New York Insider. :)

The books are vastly popular because they are that good. If it were easy or obvious, why isn't anyone else doing it?

Peter L. Winkler said...

Cabbage Patch Dolls, Furbys (anyone remember those?), Tickle Me Elmo...

Same thing.

Richard said...

It's been reported that in an attempt to discredit J.K. Rowling, Karl Rove is calling reporters on "double super-secret background" and leaking the name of the character that dies at the end of the book.

That man has read too much already.

Pam said...

I have an M.A. in English, with two years of doctoral study amongst the Pre-Raphaelites. My favorite writer is Edith Wharton. I'm one of those adoring moms who puts a hot meal on the table every night and insists that the family actually be present-all at the same time-to eat it.

I'm also a thus-far (9 books and counting) unpublished novelist who was once a near-starving single mom.

I should hate both Harry and the author he rode in on. But I don't. I think these books are shining examples of unbridled imagination, and I enjoy the hell out of 'em.

I know about the folklore and whatnot that she's drawn upon for her boggarts and philosopher's stones. I'm familiar with the work of Joseph Campbell. It doesn't matter if someone else thought of this stuff first--she's made it her own. I wish Rowling well, even if she kills off Harry himself in Book 7, which is what I think should happen. Been reading too much Wharton, I suppose.

What was it John Grisham said about having sold too many books to ever be taken seriously? Heh.


ScaramoucheX said...

You must be very old indeed, to have done two years of study amongst the Pre-Raphaelites...I think almost all of them are dead, now, and their best work was done a very long time ago.

Anonymous said...

Friends of friends of mine knew her when she was working on the first HP in Edinburgh. Apparently she dropped them like a stone once she got successful.


Anonymous said...

Only thing sadder is anonymous snarking from the terminally jealous.

Miss Snark said...

To be a true Snarkling you must sign your name to all snarky comments. Otherwise it's called sniping and that's just low class.

Rachel said...

Dear dear Miss Snark,

I think HP is crap. Cute, but crap. Oprah certainly hasn't hurt Ms. Rowling, either, from what I hear... and with a publicist like Oprah, well... OK, I AM jealous of the fame and glory if not the talent (or what passes for it these days), and though I am not sure why otherwise seemingly reasonable people were dressing up in robes and carrying wands at my local bookstore the night of the release, I am sure that you don't have to be a good writer to make a lot of money at it...

Actually, that gives me hope; because supposing my ego is so big (quite possible) that my impression of myself (unbiased as it is) as a decent writer is wildly off base? Then it's still possible for me to make a shitload of money at it anyway, which is after all why I'm trying to get published in the first place. Sure it's nice to express myself through my writing and blah blah blah, but if I don't ever get paid for it, than it's just a hobby, eh? And why bother to get paid (er, published) if it's just all for shits and giggles?

Remodeling Repartee said...

I adore HP. Not bad writing and what a world, what a story, what archetypes.

My kids love them. Course they are Chows, and they like to eat the covers 'cause I've been handling them.

I got so much pleasure from listening to the series read by Jim Dale on CD and walking my dogs. So much pleasure I begrudge her not one cent of what she earns.

And the plots are Byzantine, yet she manages to tie them up. My only criticsm is the highly imaginative adverbs; psychophantically springs to mind, although there are better.