Marko-Grinch: Potter Books Just Puffed Up Publicity


Dec 26, 2004

Posted by: Melissa Anelli | Comments


Grinch alert: We’ve been about due for one of these Potter harangues for some time. This time it’s from a new face, not William Safire or A.S. Byatt or even Harold Bloom. It’s retired business editor Jack Markowitz of the Tribune Review who calls the Potter books “the most over-praised, over-publicized and marketed books ever printed.”

“They report the release dates and hours — typically midnight — at which “the latest” will go on sale. It is the kind of advertising that money can’t buy. Just try to get such attention for a truly worthy cause.”

(We at Leaky can’t imagine what he means, having witnessed fans donate so much of their time, effort and money to literacy through Leaky, Inc. More than $30,000 in less than two years – that’s no attention at all for this young charity whose contributors are composed entirely of HP fans…)

And here:

“When was the last time you heard actual word-of-mouth praise for a Potter book, as opposed to publicity? Or read one yourself (parents are allowed)?”

To the first part of the question: About six minutes ago, from someone who is an adult and has no idea I work at TLC or am even a fan (and this happens often). As to the second: Cue the adults, of whom there are galloping hordes. Someone get this guy a sales stat for the “adult” version of the book and compare just that faction of HP sales alone to sales of most other books on the market.

And as reader Will reminds, Potter became popular thanks to word of mouth, not marketing campaigns. The marketing campaigns came later, and were spun very much AROUND the fact that this was a completely grassroots, kids-telling-each-other-in-playgrounds, adults-telling-each-other-over-coffee movement. That’s part of why it’s so hype-proof – the matter backs it up, is the cause of the fervor. And anyone who’s read one article on the history of the Potter phenomenon knows that.

Mr. Markowitz’s email address is [email protected]. Have fun! (And, do be polite and adult about it. The best thing you can do is show the maturity you constantly show here.)

Finding Hogwarts

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.