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June 22, 2003

Colby Cosh calls me (as

Daniel Radosh

Colby Cosh calls me (as did Francis, via e-mail) on my poorly thought-out rant about Harry Potter hype. The Dickens thing did occur to me after I posted, in fact, so let me clarify my opinion. It's not the hype per se that bothers me, it's the focus on not wanting to "spoil the surprise," as if the books were like a blockbuster movie that everyone is going to see opening weekend or not at all. I can understand that people, kids especially, don't want to know anything about the book before they read it, but what makes that different from any other book? If you don't want to know, don't read the reviews. The problem, as Francis points out, is that most books are not being covered this way by the media. If details leaked out, it would have been hard not to hear about them. But that is largely a function of the hype, and, indeed, JKR's obsession with secrecy only feeds the desire to "spoil" the secrets. So yeah, there's a good chance these books will still be around years from now (though unless Phoenix is better than Goblet, I still say future generations will give up after book 3), but in a way that just proves that the secrecy is unnecessary. If a book is great it will last, regardless of the hype, but, in general, too much hype makes me suspect that the books can no longer count on quality alone to sell them. Dickens is the exception and JK Rowling is no Charles Dickens.

Re: The Little Nell story. The way I remember it, the people on the docks weren't there to get hold of the book itself. They wanted to be told what happened. In other words, they wanted the book spoiled for them! Of course it wouldn't be spoiled, because the book was worth reading regardless of the hype. Is HP5? Who knows? But really, doesn't JKR look stupid for filing that lawsuit? After all, as of right now, everything that she worked so hard to keep secret is openly available to anyone who wants to know it. So is it now ruined? Are people who didn't buy the book at midnight and read it in one sitting now not going to?

For a truly contrarian angle, try Harry Potter: Tory bastard.

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