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Harry Potter - Joanne's Dream

Aug 18, 2007
Late in June of 1997 in London a publishing company released what was to become a cultural phenomenon. The book's author, a teacher, would go on to become a household name. Her journey would take her from Gloucestershire, England, where she was born, through Exeter, a town in the south coast of England where she went to university, to a job as a research assistant for Amnesty International and on to teaching. Joanne Rowling's lifelong dream was to be a writer...she succeeded.

Since the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (the title was edited to Sorcerer's Stone in America because it was thought we wouldn't associate magic and wizardry with the word Philosopher), the book now a series, has garnered world-wide attention, countless fans, numerous awards and accolades, drawing attention from film producers, video game makers and merchandisers.

The list of awards Rowling's has received?
- 4 Whitaker Platinum Book Awards in 2001
- 3 Nestle Smarties Book Prizes in '97 and again in '99
- 2 Scottish Arts Council Book Awards
- the first ever Whitbread children's book of the year award in '99
- and in 2006, the WHSmith book of the year

Oh, and her little friend, Harry Potter, who borrows his name from Rowling's childhood neighbors, is a legend FROM her own mind.

Fans waited in long lines as the hours tick down to the official release date of each new book... many times at midnight! Special security measures had to be taken to ensure no books were sold before the actual date. Book store owners had to sign legal documents insuring they would not even open the boxes before then.

Numerous conventions, conferences and symposiums have sprung up all over the world. People couldn't and apparently still can't get enough of Harry and his clan. These gatherings feature speakers, book and film discussions, games and costumes. Just recently (May 2007)the was a conference in New Orleans - Phoenix Rising which ran from May 17th to the 21st.

From the site:

"The conference will examine the novels, the movies, and the extraordinary fan phenomenon during the day; then, attendees will revel with the beat of the Crescent City herself rising from ash and flame when evening advances."

For those of you who might have missed it, don't worry, there's another schedules for August 7-11, 2008, in Chicago.

The impact on the publishing world was immense. So great was the clamor for each new book in the series that the New York Times was persuaded to reformat its best-seller list. Harry was taking up too many slots on the list. In 2002 just before the release of Goblet Of Fire the Times created a separate list for Harry Potter and the children's book category.

The New York Times wasn't alone. FedEx used 9,000 trucks whose sole purpose was to deliver the Goblet Of Fire to eager fans. Book retailers like Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Borders pre-sold books in spectacular amounts - 700,000 copies of Goblets Of Fire. Sales records were shattered with each new release.

In all the books alone have sold over 325 million copies worldwide. With the subsequent films, video games and merchandising that followed, Joanne, aka J. K. Rowling by her fans, is a billionaire.

In spite of her success, or maybe because of it, she and Harry have their critics. Right wing conservatives claim the premise of the series is designed to entice the younger generation over to the dark side by glorifying witchcraft. Personally, I think Bewitched already did that. But if you're really that concerned that a work of pure fantasy will convince your child it's ok to turn his 6th grade math teacher into the next slimy little spokesman for Geico, then learn calculus and help your child with his homework! On a side note - I have nothing against the Geico gecko, I think using cute little animals to sell insurance is brilliant.

For those of you dealing with separation anxiety over the departure of Harry and his gang, fear not! Although Rowling has decided to retire the teenaged wizard, she does plan to write an encyclopedia, an epilogue, which would detail some background information derived from the narrative, what happens after Deathly Hallows and reveals who will step into the Hogwart Headmaster's position.
About the Author
Ron Berry is a freelance journalist who writes for Essay Street and operates Moviebilia.net - Movie Memorabilia http://moviebilia.net a Movie Memorabilia site
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