Monday, July 16, 2007

In Advance of Potter Pottiness

Potter pottiness will hit the world again this Saturday as the final book, in the series Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is launched. Because of an embargo, booksellers are not permitted to sell the book until 12.01 a.m. in the UK (7 a.m. Malaysian time).

The magic actually begins a few hours earlier at MPH, I Utama where you are invited to a Harry Potter themed party dressed up as a witch or a wizard, and participate in games, Harry Potterish food, dancing and lots more! Register at 03 7781 1800 with Aliza or Farhana. (More news of Potter parties around the country in this Starmag article.)

The series has sold 325 million copies worldwide and made its author very rich indeed.

But back in the world of the Muggles, not everything is so hunky-dory.

First, of course, there was there was the killjoy hacker who posted a spoiler on the internet, claiming that he had managed to tap into publisher Bloomsbury's computer. (Was he right or wrong? Well we will know soon!)

The logistics of getting the book to the stores for Saturday morning while safeguarding its secrecy are staggering. (Just look at what "Operation Harry" in Australia involves!)

No doubt there will be tales of piracy and skullduggery as the deadline nears, as there was last time. There's some speculation also that some non-bookshop businesses could break the embargo to make a quick buck in the UK.

Not all booksellers are rubbing their hands in glee. Back in April Mr. Raman of Silverfish Books highlighted the fact that it makes little economic sense for independent booksellers to stock the book ... and I learned the other day that he will be interviewed by the BBC about this!*

But shouldn't we all be celebrating the fact that the series lures the young onto the righteous path of reading and gets 'em hooked? Says Motoko Rich in the New York Times.
Before Harry Potter, it was virtually unheard of for kids to queue up for a mere book. Children who had previously read short chapter books were suddenly plowing through more than 700 pages in a matter of days.
Unfortunately, according to studies carried out in the US:
... the series, in the end, has not permanently tempted children to put down their Game Boys and curl up with a book instead. Some kids have found themselves daunted by the growing size of the books (“Sorcerer’s Stone” was 309 pages; “Deathly Hallows,” will be 784). Others say that Harry Potter does not have as much resonance as titles that more realistically reflect their daily lives. “The Harry Potter craze was a very positive thing for kids,” said Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts ... “It got millions of kids to read a long and reasonably complex series of books. The trouble is that one Harry Potter novel every few years is not enough to reverse the decline in reading.”
But let's not end on such a low note. if you're taking part in the Potter mania this weekend, I hope you have a great time and a thoroughly delicious read.

And don't forget that helpline for distraught Potter fans who can't believe the series has actually come to an end! (Eyeris' take on this very funny!)


*Some bookshops in Britain are also set to lose out. Says Nicholas Clee of Harry Potter on the Guardian blog:
He was one of the factors contributing to the demise of Ottakar's, which incurred big marketing costs in promoting him before seeing supermarkets and Amazon cream off most of the sales. Waterstone's, which bought Ottakar's, has warned that it will not make any money out of The Deathly Hallows. Independent booksellers cannot compete with their loss-leading rivals; a quarter of them have said that they will not stock the book.
Nicholas Lezard, meanwhile, has problems with Rowling's style.

Postscript 2

Skulduggery indeed. Some one has posted photos of pages of what could be the book on the internet, The Australian reports.

Someone posted a spoiler in the comments on this blog - but I erased it. It really isn't fair on the fans.

(Photo above from the Sydney Morning Herald shows copies of the book arriving in the warehouse.)


synical said...

The posted spoiler certainly doesn't have much with my personal predictions of what's gonna happen in Deathly Hallows.

I'll be getting my copy of the special edition from Times the Bookshop in 1U; I'm not sure if I want to check out the chaos at KLCC on Saturday.

Anonymous said...

its rubbish to give credit to Harry Potter for inculcating the reading habit in kids. rubbish! all it's doing is teaching kids to buy into hype. it's not even about quality reading.

wana teach kids to read for fun? start in school! in my school we had a great library, which i as a committee member, helped to maintain. we had quality books like the great classics and then some. if you start your kids young, they WILL read and continue to read. but it's also important to start them on GOOD books, not some Harry Potter crap.

there's enough crass commercialism in the world today as it is. no need to get kids involved in it. otherwise, might as well give them free fast food to go with early bird orders of Harry Bloody Potter.

sorry for the angry rant, my dear Miss Bib.

"Harry can Eff Off and die for all i care"

bibliobibuli said...

synical - hope you have a great time reading the book

viz - why do people only call me ms bib when they're angry with me?

agree about the school library.

as for harry, i've only read the first book ... and enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

cos "Miss Bib" helps to cool us off.


Radical Scope said...

perhaps it's the way the story is being told that kept the children ( and the grown-up children such as myself) glued to the book, sitting at the edge of their seats waiting for the next issue and the next issue. the details, the language used, the plots, they are so much better than a game (imagine that coming from an avid gamer!).

Anonymous said...

The first book WAS good. After that she didn't need the money any more, but there's still a product to be marketed and lambs to be fleeced.

lil ms d said...

i stopped reading at the second one. sorry sharon, but somehow... HP doesn't come close to the grimm brothers, enid blyton etc :D

saw the first movie too and slept throughout... i know. i am terrible!

KayKay said...

Echo The Viz; The seeds need to be sown in school with the love and joy for reading inculcated through heaps of motivation and encouragement to read as diverse a collection as possible. I managed a mini class library in Lower Secondary and had an English teacher who insisted we read at least one book a week and write up a mini "review" which I then edited and posted the best ones up on a bullettin board we called The English Corner. Given the short time allocated, we read everything and anything we could lay our hands on, thereby getting an exposure to different writing styles from the beginning. Am extremely cynical of statements that suggest Harry Potter put the love of reading into kids, especially since there's no concrete evidence to suggest that kids subsequently went from Dumbledore to Dumas to Dante or Dickens. But I know plenty who, when not plowing through the latest Potter, is busy re-reading the earlier books in anticipation of the coming one, stuck in a self-imposed reading exile in Potter land.
Have no complaints with the books, just the relentless media hype each heftier tome comes slickly coated in.
And whether I rant or not, you're always Sharon to me dearest:-)

Nuri said...

I used to be a *huge* Harry Potter fan (read the 3rd book first) and I still read the books. Media hype aside, which I could generally care less for, the HP books are pretty good. Maybe not amazingly good from a literary point of view, but that doesn't mean they're not fun to read.

The best way to cultivate reading in children is to take them to bookstores frequently and have lots of good reading material available at home. Worked for me, and my parents weren't the sort 'obsessed' with getting me to read.

Back to HP though, I'll be picking up my copy from Kino on the 21st. It feels good to know that the story is coming to an end.

Madcap Machinist said...

Everyone in my family (excepting my mum) reads HP. Just one of the few books we can all talk about at dinner, and for that I am grateful to Ms Rowling.

Obiter Dictum said...

I radthe first and liked it. I gto the second one and thought well, that is what happens to sequels... they don't seem to have the edge the first ones do.

I had to buy the third for my daughter, a few pages was all I could digest.

But Sharon's point is valid. It did lure my little one into books, later she began the Adventures of Tom Sawyer...

Now, I smile as she walks about stamping one foot down with gutso to make it sound like a stump.

It is series of books for kids, lets us adults not expect too much of it.

eyeris said...

actually, it STARTED OUT as books for kids. then Rowling got too big for her breeches and decided to try and write both for kids AND adults at the same time...

Anonymous said...


no one is expecting too much of anything. good children's books are readable to adults too. for example, i love The Little Prince, which i first read as an adult. it is incredibly imaginative, thoroughly surprising, and taps into a part of us that helps us recall why we were the way we were when we were kids. for a child, it opens up her or his imagination and insight.

we're not criticising HP becos it is a book for kids. that should be obvious.


bibliobibuli said...

i loved "the little prince" and read it in french!

Anonymous said...

is it better in French?

i've tried this on several people and it is the same every time: i would tell them to read the first two pages ... after which they'd be hooked!


bibliobibuli said...

actually i've only ever read it in french ... but it was so long ago! mid '60's!!! before most of you were a twinkle

Anonymous said...

in the 60s, i wasn't even a sperm yet!