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Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Long overdue post, posted at the risk of repeating some stuff you've heard before...

It sold 11.3 million copies in 24 hours in the US, UK and Germany alone. That's not all, the book made it to Afghan capital Kabul, sold out in Bangladeshi capital - Dhaka, in Sri Lankan capital Colombo and flew off the book shelves in India. We haven't even got to the pirated bits yet. Should any of the statistics and facts about the seventh and final Harry Potter book - 'The Deathly Hallows' surprise you?

You bet. For a very long time, we've heard of books being sold in the hundreds, thousands, ok a couple of thousands, but millions has been unheard of. Also take a step back in time. Remember circa 1997? Wasn't there talk about the death of the book? The rise of computers, how we'll be reading books online, publishing as we know it will be redefined?

What a difference 10 years can make. Far from dying, it wasn't one or two million. In all, 325 million copies of the first six books in the series have sold worldwide. That's not all, they were translated into 64 languages, reaching out to practically every market in the world. Yes, I know the cynics would argue, how many of the millions were actually read? Even if half of them did, in my book that would be more than a perfect start.

Beyond the sales and the actual reading, its also been argued that after the initial frenzy, the calculated hype the Harry Potter novels may be forgotten. Some critics have gone a step further saying J K Rowling's prose is unlikely to sustain her reputation. I balk as I disagree. I like her style, I like the spirit of adventure and the age old battle between good versus evil. And as it's often been pointed out in the past, there's no predictable link between prose style and longevity. What matters far more in terms of staying power of a book is the creation of a world and characters that captivate readers, and that linger in the collective imagination of readers long after they have flipped the last page. Given that Harry Potter series has all of this, the Boy Wizard is certain to be with us for many, many years.

But what of the book you ask? It was expectedly a mix of emotions. Great to see the way the story panned out, fear because you never know what's going to happen next and sorrow because this was it, this was closure. It's almost like saying a final farewell to a dear friend. And to avoid the risk of giving too much away, let me say that the seventh and final book exceeds expectations. There is Rowling's spectacular narrative, bound together though the sheer magic of her pen. Like before, what makes it truly special is her ability to create so much out of human emotions.

For some the fuss may be silly, the hype over-the-top, Potter may be not just a book but a brand. For whatever its worth, I think on the whole, the debate has been great. It has stretched people's imaginations like never before. It has reminded us that reading books has been and will remain fun. Potter has taken us away from our cell phones, our X-Boxes, our computers, at least for a bit. For that and a whole lot more, I, like millions of others shall be forever indebted to Rowling's literary tour de force.

1) Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone - 1997 - PAGES 223
2) Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets - 1998- PAGES 251
3) Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban - 1999 - PAGES 317
4) Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire - 2000 - PAGES 636
5) Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix - 2003 - PAGES 766
6) Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince - 2005 - PAGES 632
7) Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows - 21st July 2007 - PAGES 607

What makes it even more special is what Rowling has had to say about his phenomenal success:
"I am an extraordinarily lucky person, doing what I love best in the world."
"It was wonderful enough just to be published. The greatest reward is the enthusiasm of the readers."

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