[NYT] Harry Potter occupies the top four spots

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From: Adam Rifkin -4K (adam@XeNT.ics.uci.edu)
Date: Tue Jul 18 2000 - 09:45:12 PDT

I can't remember any author filling the top four slots on a New York
Times chart before:


What's with the jacking up the price of the latest installment? Just so
people feel like they're getting a bargain when it's sold at 30% off?

> 1 HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE, by J. K. Rowling. (Levine/
> Scholastic, $25.95.) A British boy takes part in a series of contests
> against other aspiring wizards. (Ages 10 and up) [1 week on chart]
> (Levine/Scholastic, $17.95.) A British boy finds trouble on his return
> to a witchcraft school. (Ages 10 and up) [58 weeks on chart]
> (Levine/Scholastic, $16.95.) A British boy attends a school for
> witchcraft. (Ages 10 and up) [83 weeks on chart]
> (Levine/Scholastic, $19.95.) A British boy's life at a school for
> witchcraft is threatened. (Ages 10 and up) [44 weeks on chart]

They had to invent this new chart "Children's Best Sellers Plus" just to
keep Rowling from dominating the adult nonfiction. My wife is reading
the books. Our Chief Operating Officer is reading the books. Suddenly
it's okay to have the reading level of an 8-year-old. Potter books seem
as ubiquitous this summer as Eminem blaring out of peoples' radios.
[And every time I hear Eminem I now think of "The Real Wayne Baisley".
Was that ever FoRKed? I can't find it in the archives...]

Omnivore says there's no requirement to be reviewed in the Times and
for making it on the Times bestseller charts:

> The New York Times Book Review explains that the rankings in its
> weekly best-seller list "reflect sales at almost 4,000 bookstores plus
> wholesalers serving 50,000 other retailers (gift shops, department
> stores, newsstands, supermarkets), statistically weighted to represent
> all such outlets nationwide." Appearing on the list invariably turns a
> best seller into an even bigger best seller. On the other hand, a review
> in the Times is not a requirement for best-sellerdom. Of the 35 hardback
> nonfiction bestsellers listed on the Book Review's Web site, 19 have
> been reviewed. On the paperback list, 22 titles have received a Times
> review. Fiction fares less well. On both the hardcover and the paperback
> lists, only 11 books have been reviewed. On the new and much-debated
> children's best-seller list five titles have been reviewed by the
> Times, and three of those are by J.K. Rowling.

Here's the review of the latest Potter book:


What's surprising to me is that the New York Times really likes the new

> Ms. Rowling, already the golden goose of publishing, [was] in
> the dicey position of having to outdo herself with a sequel written
> under huge commercial pressure at twice the length of any of her
> previous books. We know what happens to talent when the tie-ins hit the
> Happy Meals, and the stakes get this high.
> But Ms. Rowling, a kindred spirit to both Lewis Carroll and the pre-Jar
> Jar Binks George Lucas, turns out to be a fantasist who lives inside a
> thrillingly fertile imagination, mines it ingeniously and plays entirely
> by her own rules. Talk about supernatural tricks: she has turned this
> odds-defying new book into everything it promised to be.

And put these two items on the things-I'd-like-to-buy list:

> When you can dream up an idea like the Pensieve, a basin to hold one's
> excess thoughts until they can be dealt with at leisure, or a household
> clock that indicates family members' whereabouts ("home," "work,"
> "traveling," "prison," "mortal peril") instead of the mere time, there's
> no excuse for falling back on the humdrum.

[No commentary from Rohit about the clock, please.]

I guess I'm going to have to live with the fact that my kids if I ever
have any are going to be Harry Potter fans...

> Twice as hefty as its predecessors, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of
> Fire" is an uncommonly good-looking book, with a substantial feel and
> artful chapter illustrations that anticipate the narrative. Today's
> readers are bound to appreciate that. Future generations, for whom the
> Harry Potter books will be classics, should like it, too.

I wonder if Pokemon will still be around in a few years. Note that the
Potter-less Times List seems to contain very little of note:


> The Potter-Less New York Times List Is Surprising. And Not.
> By Farrin Jacobs
> Friday , July 14 11:30 a.m.
> The new Harry Potter-less New York Times bestseller list, which debuts
> on July 23, looks a whole lot like the old one -- except for one thing.
> The Times will no longer include a column of numbers indicating books'
> positions on the most recent list. According to a spokesman for the
> Times, the previous week's rankings are simply a casualty of the new
> design, although it isn't clear how saving a 1/2 inch of column space is
> going to make much of a difference.
> Otherwise, the list holds few surprises, unless you thought getting rid
> of Harry would catapult literary darlings Zadie Smith and Michael
> Ondaatje -- both of whom appear on Booksense and several local hardcover
> fiction lists -- onto it. They're both still AWOL on the July 23 list.
> What does appear? Twelve mystery/thrillers, 3 romances and an Oprah pick
> that deserved to be a bestseller long before Oprah introduced the world
> to it. On the July 16 list, the first three Harry Potter books held the
> Nos. 2, 3 and 4 spots. On the new list, it's as if the Potter block were
> surgically removed, since The House on Hope Street by Danielle Steel
> remains at No. 1 and Cradle and All by James Patterson, which had been
> No. 5, now resides in the No. 2 spot.
> Nos. 3 and 4 on the July 23 list are, respectively, Julia Garwood's
> Heartbreaker, and Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins's The Indwelling,
> which have both appeared in these spots before. Mario Puzo's final
> farewell, Omerta, debuts at No. 5, despite scathing reviews, and
> longtime list dwellers John Grisham's The Brethren and (Oprah-blessed)
> Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye are, to judge from the asterisk next to
> Morrison's title, neck and neck at 8 and 9. The two other list
> first-timers are both commercial genre books -- Middle of Nowhere, by
> Ridley Pearson, a mystery, has the No. 14 spot, and Barbara Delinsky's
> romance, The Vineyard, lands at No. 15.
> Over on the paperback fiction list, where Harry had the nerve to take up
> a space as well, there are also three debuts, and -- guess what -- they
> include a mystery (Jupiter's Bones, by Faye Kellerman, at 15) and two
> romances (Granny Dan, by Danielle Steel, at 10, and Dangerous Kiss, by
> Jackie Collins, at 16).
> So much for making room for overlooked writers of literary fiction.

While I'm poking around, Warner is giving Jack Welch $7 million for his
memoirs?! Geez, AOL *does* own the world...


Back to Rowling. A little biography for the "inspiration" file:


> J.K. Rowling was a struggling single mother when she finished her first
> Harry Potter book with a grant from the Scottish Arts Council. That
> children's novel, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," earned the
> author a six-figure advance in the United States and quickly became a
> national bestseller.
> Since then, Rowling's hero, an orphan wizard, has generated a publishing
> phenomenon. The long-awaited 752-page fourth book in the series --
> "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" -- has generated a media frenzy
> complete with a multitude of unofficial Harry Potter websites and eager
> speculations about the book's title and content. Booksellers signed
> contracts that forbade them from opening shipments of the latest book
> until 12:01 a.m. on July 8th, 2000, although a Wal-Mart and a Virginia
> bookstore sold copies before the employees realized their mistake.
> There has never been a larger first printing in publishing history. 3.8
> million copies have been published in the United States alone and as of
> July 1, 2000, Amazon.com had already raked in 282,650 pre-orders. To
> date, 30 million Harry Potter books have sold worldwide.
> The 34-year old Rowling has won numerous awards including the 1999
> American Booksellers Book Award. She lives in Edinburgh, Scotland with
> her daughter.

So... when does the backlash begin? Or is this one backlash-free?


Don't blame me when little Eric jumps off of the terrace, you should've been watching him, apparently you ain't parents. -- Eminem, "Who Knew"

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