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JK Rowling, et al.

A place to debate issues or to rant about what's on your mind. In addition to discussions about historical fiction, books, the publishing industry, and history, discussions about current political, social, and religious issues and other topics are allowed, so those who are easily offended by certain topics may want to avoid such threads. Members are expected to keep the discussions friendly and polite and to avoid personal attacks on other members. The moderators reserve the right to shut down a thread without warning if they believe it necessary.
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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Thu July 14th, 2011, 2:17 pm

Or perhaps there's the same perception for the younger demographics that there is for the older ones that "women read more," which can skew the marketing as well.

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Post by SonjaMarie » Thu July 14th, 2011, 6:00 pm

I was looking at the TVG yesterday and noticed there will be a Lifetime movie about J.K. on Monday the 18th. Not sure if it's playing in other countries though.

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Post by Justin Swanton » Mon February 20th, 2012, 11:34 am

[quote=""MLE""]So here is the core of my question: why did the Harry Potter books become the phenomenon they are? and the second question, which is related to it, is this: how much of success is due to an author's current book, and how much is riding on name/brand recognition? For instance, if Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince were a stand-alone first novel, no hype or movie tie-ins, would it have sold very many copies?[/quote]

This question interested me from the day I tried to read the first Harry Potter. My theory:

HP piggy-backs on fantasy fiction. However it is different in that, instead of obliging the reader to travel to a fantasy world that is very different from the world he/she is used to, HP leaves contemporary children intact with their contemporary relationships and growing up problems - and adds magic, wizards, gnomes, bad beasties, etc. In other words, it is easier to identify with the world of HP than with Middle Earth, Earthsea, or Camelot. A case of fantasy fast-food.

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Post by SGM » Mon February 20th, 2012, 2:00 pm

[quote=""Justin Swanton""]This question interested me from the day I tried to read the first Harry Potter. My theory:

HP piggy-backs on fantasy fiction. However it is different in that, instead of obliging the reader to travel to a fantasy world that is very different from the world he/she is used to, HP leaves contemporary children intact with their contemporary relationships and growing up problems - and adds magic, wizards, gnomes, bad beasties, etc. In other words, it is easier to identify with the world of HP than with Middle Earth, Earthsea, or Camelot. A case of fantasy fast-food.

Do I get a medal?[/quote]

I actually think that HP utilises a setting that was successful for many generations of children over here -- the boarding school but updates it some already commonplace fantasy characters and a few less common and turned out a mix that worked. Not forgetting that even for kids they are an easy read. The boarding school background means that the kids can operate in an environment not constantly controlled by their parents.

They must be easy. They were on the best selling list in France as well. For an English novel to be a best seller in France is not that uncommon but what is uncommon about Harry Potter was that it was a best seller in English, not in translation.
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Post by parthianbow » Mon February 20th, 2012, 2:38 pm

[quote=""annis""]I agree about the HP books. After the first three they became unnecessarily bloated. I suspect this was a response to kids' demands for HP stories that lasted longer as a read.[/quote]

I beg to disagree. From what I've learned in the last few years, it's to do with 'the bigger the author, the less an editor is allowed to say' syndrome. I've heard that said about more than one big name.

@MLE: I love your take on boys/girls ways of development. Think you've got it fair and square!
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Post by annis » Mon February 20th, 2012, 6:10 pm

Well, you could well be right there, Ben, if the increasingly erratic quality of work by "big name" authors like Philippa Gregory is anything to go by...

Definitely agree on teenage male/female reading differences. However gender-PC we want to get, there's no way round the fact that while girls happily relate to either a male or a female as the main protagonist, boys need a male hero to identify with in their stories or it just doesn't work for them.

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Post by Justin Swanton » Tue February 21st, 2012, 5:31 am

[quote=""SGM""]I actually think that HP utilises a setting that was successful for many generations of children over here -- the boarding school but updates it some already commonplace fantasy characters and a few less common and turned out a mix that worked. Not forgetting that even for kids they are an easy read. The boarding school background means that the kids can operate in an environment not constantly controlled by their parents.[/quote]

That would be it then: children in a contemporary social milieu that is realistic and easily identified with, in which they have sufficient freedom of action to do things worthy of a fantasy plot.

BTW has anyone picked up on how dangerous life in Hogwarts is - children allowed to do things that are potentially lethal (like playing Quiddich) and that would be criminally illegal in any contemporary school environment. HP's appeal might be partially due to a visceral reaction against our overprotected western lifestyle.

(I remember doing things as a kid that would cause the horrors today, like wandering in and out of a rusty and crumbling old wreck on the beach at Beira, Mozambique)
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Post by bevgray » Tue February 21st, 2012, 12:11 pm

That's a good point, Justin, about the reaction to our over-protective society. I can remember playing paratrooper and jumping out of trees at one of the parade grounds. If one recalls the young readers books like Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and the Hardy Boys, they certainly were in dangerous situations constantly. I suspect adult readers find the same kind of escape desirable which is why there is such a market for adventure, science fiction, and fantasy.
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Post by fljustice » Tue February 21st, 2012, 8:03 pm

[quote=""Justin Swanton""]BTW has anyone picked up on how dangerous life in Hogwarts is - children allowed to do things that are potentially lethal (like playing Quiddich) and that would be criminally illegal in any contemporary school environment. HP's appeal might be partially due to a visceral reaction against our overprotected western lifestyle.[/quote]

Robot Chicken (a short stop-action animation show on Comedy Central here in the US) did a very funny send-up in a skit this season. The teachers would give an instruction and at least one child died in each class. By the end Harry was in a public school with a bunch of simpering girls. RC has done a number of HP send-ups and with usually one or more of the original actors doing voice over.
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Post by LoveHistory » Wed February 22nd, 2012, 12:09 am

Actually, Justin, with the magical medicine available and an audience of mature wizards and witches, it's doubtful that anyone would have allowed a fatality to occur during a quidditch match. But yes, there was a lot of danger at Hogwarts, especially for students who didn't follow the rules...like Harry for instance.

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