Well yes, it IS unavoidable to write about HP7
July 19, 2007 by ruediger

So today, more than 48 hours before the official release date, the New York Times publishes a first review of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – and guess what, aside from, of course, not revealing the end (which, also a matter of course, everyone interested could see already for a few days everywhere on the web as reveiled by cohorts of Harry ‘spoilers’ who posted a photographed early bird copy of the book), was full of praise for the ingenuitity of Mrs. Rowling’s art of story telling:
J. K. Rowling’s monumental, spellbinding epic, 10 years in the making, is deeply rooted in traditional literature and Hollywood sagas — from the Greek myths to Dickens and Tolkien to “Star Wars.” And true to its roots, it ends not with modernist, “Soprano”-esque equivocation, but with good old-fashioned closure: a big-screen, heart-racing, bone-chilling confrontation and an epilogue that clearly lays out people’s fates.” And, if this is not enough, here the reviewer, MICHIKO KAKUTANI, goes on: This same magpie talent has enabled her to create a narrative that effortlessly mixes up allusions to Homer, Milton, Shakespeare and Kafka, with silly kid jokes about vomit-flavored candies, a narrative that fuses a plethora of genres (from the boarding-school novel to the detective story to the epic quest) into a story that could be Exhibit A in a Joseph Campbell survey of mythic archetypes.”

Wow!

By the fact that, sitting in Vienna, Austria, I am in no position to walk over to some New York book store and pick up the book way before official delivery, as the NYT seems to have done, I can only humbly hint at that magic that HP has brought to the book world. I wrote a small piece about this in Perlentaucher, in German, and these are the main thoughts:

For sure, HP will have changed the world of publishing and book retail like no single book before, but with pretty mixed results for various actors:

1. We learned over the past few weeks that studies on reading habits of youth point out that even kid who absorbed high level doses of HP won’t necessarily read other books as well;

2. While a few, like JK Rowling herself and her original publisher Bloomsbury (very deservedly, I think), wholesalers and some marketers earned a lot of money, but for many others it was more of a rollercoaster, or playing at a casino, with the highest risk due to sky rocketing fees for every right sold that could be attached to HP

3. Those mega marketing pipelines that have been build around HP for over 10 years are ready for more fuel now – and nobody will care, if that is to benefit books, or games, or whatever – so it is not necessarily a winning scheme for book lovers

4. Small indie book stores all over the place are likely not to get rich, due to discounts, or even, in countires with fixed book prices like Germany, Austria, France, a first tsunami comes with the (flexibly priced) original English language edition, which will be a hard reality check to pricing discipline everywhere, bringing up my next point;

5. English original editions have learned to fly across language barriers as if they traveled on broomsticks, which is good, I guess, as it show’s people’s ability and readiness to go for what they want, and depend less on those established content channels, but which brings ever more competition to the established, if you wish ‘old fashioned’ book trade;

6. From now on, even if that is not entirely new either, there will be ‘books’ – and those other books, meaning, those rocketing to the sky, on a global scale, and those many many other titesls that travels slowly, to limited readerships, and honestly, we shouldn’t expect that those completely diverging entities can live under one and the same economical parameters, meaning: I am deeply sceptical if for these many books (and their publishers, and the related enthousiastic book sellers) one will expect to earn money.

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