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Harry Potter – 14 years later

June 20, 2011

14 years isn’t a great anniversary to use, but every time I walk into a bookstore I have the same thoughts, and it happened again yesterday. Time to babble…

14 years ago (June 30, 1997) Harry Potter and sand the Philosopher’s Stone was published. Since then, it was spawned 6 other books, movies, tv specials, and more swag than you can shake a stick at. It has been held responsible for years of increased reading among school-age children. And, perhaps a bit less noticeable, it has spawned masses of clone fantasy young adult books.

Combined with the Twilight series and the clones of that which have invaded bookstore’s young adult shelves, and you have a veritable feast of potential fantasy and sci fi for younger readers to pick up and read. As a long term speculative fiction geek, this is wonderful – I never had this range of choices back in the day. I remember coming off of the end of the Hardy Boys/Tom Swift era, goosebumps, and a few other series…. but most if not all of the young adult fiction did not have too much of a sci-fi/fantasy influence. Nowadays it seems like half of the books I see out displayed have heavy influence from Harry Potter, and themes similar to much of the Speculative Fiction world.

I really wonder what this means for later on reading habits. How does this influence of Harry Potter, this explosion of YA speculative fiction, affect reading habits as those children who grew up on HP, well, grow up. Has SpecFic seen an increase as people have grown older? Are publishers expecting an increase? On the other hand – it’s entirely possible that kids were drawn to the specific brand, and that there won’t be that much of a bump in more traditional, adult SpecFic.

I don’t know the answer, and I don’t even know where to look, but I am intrigued.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jeremy permalink
    June 21, 2011 12:23 pm

    It took me a while to come around to the Harry Potter phenomenon. As I was 15 years old by the time the first one came out, and closer to 17 before I was truly aware of them, I wasn’t the target demographic. But more importantly, having read the Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, and The LOTR in first, second, and third grades respectively, I regarded this Harry Potter business as an upstart series, not worth my time. I finally got around to reading them, and while they aren’t life changing for me, I do appreciate that they kickstarted a resurgence in reading amongst children and teens. When the final film comes out, many of the viewing audience will be 21 or 22 year olds just out of college who most likely read the first book when they were 9 years old. Harry Potter has been a defining touchstone for the duration of an entire generations childhood.

    • June 21, 2011 12:34 pm

      Yea – I was already immersed in SpecFic before HP came about, and while I enjoy HP, it’s not like it blew me away. But your point is right – the people who were 9 will now be just out of college. Key point I should have mentioned – and I hope it does lead to people going back and reading Narnia, Hobbit, or whatever else they may find interesting.

      You also have the dubious honor of being my first comment!

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