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Monday, 13 June 2011

Harry Potter; growing with the reader, but now what…

I was recently reading an interesting account of J. K. Rowling’s idea of the characters in the HP series growing up with the readers. On the face of it a very successful strategy, but a thought occurred to me…

How will this affect the long-term saleability and popularity of the books?

Think about it. Whether you like them or not, we are now left with a series of very high profile and popular books that are written for differing age groups; not to mention a set of films that more-or-less do the same. So what will the future hold for the series?
What is the target readership for a set of books all aimed at differing age groups?
Will people still start reading book one aged around eight to ten, and read every other book at the appropriate age? I think not. Although some parents who grew up with the series may indeed attempt to drip-feed the books in this way. Good luck with that!

Many people have already stated a preference for ether the earlier or latter books, depending on their personal tastes. Will this be overlooked in the future, with the entire series eventually becoming a ‘classic’ set, or will this be a major factor in the series fading into obscurity?

Whilst some of the ‘classics’ of today have remained popular from their outset other popular titles of their time have faded to obscurity. Is the very, following the reader, nature of the HP books set to propel them into the latter category? Or are they set to take on the ‘children’s classics’ status of ‘Lord of the Rings’ or ‘Alice in Wonderland?’
I’m not pretending to understand what does or doesn’t make a ‘classic’ book. But if past experience tells us anything, it tells us that contemporary popularity isn’t the overriding factor. Quite a lot of todays ‘classics’ were rather obscure, or even derided, at their time of launch.

So what do you think? What will the future hold for HP?


  1. I know that right now the kids who start reading the books at ages ten, eleven, and twelve, generally end up finishing them around ages ten, eleven, and twelve. While the first book may seem to be set for a radically different age group than the last, the series isn't so mature by the end that it has to be drip-fed to younger readers.

    Reader maturity isn't all that black-and-white. Some readers may end up picking it up later than they might have when the series first started out, but others will probably still pick it up at age seven or eight regardless of the contents of the following books.

  2. The writing style does change as well though. I found it really hard to try and read the original books. And have never finished any of them.

    I recently took a look at the last book, after having seen the first part of the film version, and found the writing style to be, not altogether but still noticeably, different.
    So she doesn’t seem to have just changed the story, but to a certain extent the way it is written as well, word choice, sentence structure etc.
    If I had picked up the last book first I would probably have read more of them than I have.

    I think it would be interesting to see how the series fares in future.