J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter Phenomenon

J. K. Rowling reading Harry Potter at the White House in 2010
@Daniel Ogren, CC-BY-2.0

It is the best selling book series ever in history. A fantastic story stretching over seven books of a boy, growing up in between the two worlds of ordinary people – the muggles – and the wizards and witches. It’s about the old story of fighting of good against evil. And as the books sold over 400 million copies world wide, almost nobody could escape the news and the story behind the books, too. The story of J. K. Rowling, a single mother living on social security and becoming a multi-millionaire simply because of a children’s book within a time frame of only 5 years. Actually as of March 2011 Forbes estimates Rowling at US$1 billion.

Back in 1995, Rowling finished her manuscript for the first book of the Harry Potter series, ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’, which she typed on an old manual typewriter. The book was submitted to twelve publishing houses, all of which rejected the manuscript. A year later she was finally given the green light (and a £1500 advance) by editor Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury, a small publishing house in London. Then in June 1997, Bloomsbury published the Philosopher’s Stone with an initial print run of only 1,000 copies, 500 of which were distributed to libraries. You won’t believe it, but today such copies are valued between £16,000 and £25,000. Soon after, the book began to win several prizes in the UK and there the story goes…

With the announcement of the forth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, being released simultaneously in the UK and the U.S. on 8 July 2000, sales records in both countries were broken. ;ore than 300,000 copies of the book were sold in its first day in the UK, almost equalling the number of the previous book ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ sold during its first year. In the US, the book sold three million copies in its first 48 hours, smashing all literary sales records. When book No. six arrived, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, on 16 July 2005, it too broke all sales records, selling nine million copies in its first 24 hours of release. Finally, with book No. seven Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the series ended on 21 July 2007 and again broke its predecessor’s record as the fastest-selling book of all time. It sold 11 million copies in the first day of release in the United Kingdom and United States.

Now you might ask yourself, what will come after Harry Potter….
On 23 February 2012, Rowling’s agency announced on its website that Rowling was set to publish a new book but this time targeted at an adult audience. “Although I’ve enjoyed writing it just as much, my next novel will be very different from the Harry Potter series.” sai Rowling in a subsequent press release. It was announced that the book will be entitled ‘The Casual Vacancy’ and will be released on 27 September 2012. We are looking forward to it 🙂

At yovisto you can watch J. K. Rowling herself talking at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association about ‘The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination‘.

References and further Reading:


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