Saturday, July 16, 2005

Numbers from the Journal

To put the size of today's Harry Potter launch in perspective.. look at these numbers from the Wall Street Journal "Hip Hip for HarryJuly 15, 2005; Page A10

"At last count, the first five Harry Potter books had sold a mind-boggling 270 million copies in 200 territories and 62 languages. Some 103 million copies have been charmed off U.S. shelves alone. And at midnight tonight the mania starts all over as tens of thousands of youngsters jostle with equal numbers of oldsters to get their hands on one of the first copies of the more than 10 million of "The Half-Blood Prince" that publisher Scholastic has printed.

What makes these sales all the more impressive is that behind each one is a reader. A recent British survey of educators and students found that 84% of teachers felt Harry had helped improve child literacy, while more than two-thirds claimed the series had turned non-readers into readers.

As for the kids, 41% said they thought Harry had made reading "cool," and about the same percentage said they'd even be willing to miss their favorite TV show to read the new book. It doesn't hurt that Ms. Rowling's books carry strong moral messages of friendship, courage and the fight for right. Her universe of wizards and witches is very clearly divided between good and evil, and Harry and his friends understand that only through difficult choices and sacrifice (and CONSTANT VIGILANCE!) will their side triumph.

Children identify with such uncompromising themes, and in today's political times those themes may also explain the series' attraction for adults. Whatever Harry's appeal, we wish him luck. Ms. Rowling has one more book to go in the series, but it's a safe bet that well beyond the official end of the Hogwarts adventures, Harry Potter will be guiding untold numbers of new readers toward a lifetime love of books. And that truly is magic."

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