In today’s news we find three pointers to the end of Harry Potter’s dominance of the book trade and cultural landscape: a Publisher’s Weekly report on sales of children’s books for fiscal year 2009, Time-Warner’s stock being downgraded in anticipation of the last Potter films from Warner Brothers, and scrape-the-barrel publishing tactics by Bloomsbury to milk the Hogwarts Saga of every dollar. One by one —
Publisher’s Weekly ’2009 in Review’ for Childrens Books shows Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga dominating almost every category. To those who insist that Mrs. Meyer “is not a good writer,” I guess the millions of books she continues to sell are testimony to show how stupid her readership really is and how a story poorly told can (if marketed correctly?) resonate in the human heart. Oi.
Note that only the Deathly Hallows backlist paperback competed well with any of Mrs. Meyer’s works. All seven Potter novels continued to sell well, certainly, but at nothing like the rate they once did or as the Twilight books are. Yes, this is due to the absence of a Potter movie and to the presence of a Twilight movie and a DVD release — and, no doubt, this year’s Deathly Hallows, Part 1, will revitalize Harry’s book sales, but, nonetheless, the Potter grip of the best seller lists was broken in 2009.
If you think that is no big deal, you aren’t playing with real money. Those who do, folks who invest in companies associated with (as in “living symbiotically with”) Potter, Inc., are moving their money out of Potter-heavy companies. On Tax Day, the Associated Press ran a story “Time Warner Downgraded as ‘Harry Potter’ Nears End: Analyst cites weaker growth prospects amid end of series.”
An analyst downgraded shares of Time Warner Inc. on Wednesday, saying the factors that could boost growth at the media company are largely past it.
Morgan Stanley analyst Ben Swinburne lowered his rating to “Equal Weight” from “Overweight.” He said any return on the stock would be in line with its peers.
Moreover, prospects at the company’s Warner Bros. movie studio are not as clear once the Harry Potter slate of films ends in July 2011, the analyst said.
Bad sign? Think about the news from The Guardian (UK) that Bloomsbury is coming out with novelty book covers to attract repeat, collector, and new buyers to their business keystone: “Bloomsbury hopes new book covers will recapture the Harry Potter magic.” How bad is it? ” The article reports the “absence of Harry Potter release sees profits fall 35% last year” and, you gotta love this, Bloomsbury “plans talks with Apple about iPad ebooks application.”
There are two movies left in the chute, the theme park is opening this summer, Ms. Rowling is hard at work on a new book (which will, no doubt, revive sales of all her books), and this is the shared text of the 21st Century, whatever the Forks Saga sales may be. Harry Potter is not disappearing. But his dominance of the publishing and movie and cultural landscapes obviously peaked in 2007 at never before reached levels and has been reduced in the years since to the simply “enormous” from “unprecedented” and “stratospheric.”
H/T to Beth for the PW link!