Four New Potter Books from JKR? No.

On the 24th of May this year, PotterMore announced that it would be publishing four new ebooks about the Wizarding World. That post explicitly says that the four titles are non-fiction, tied closely to the British Library exhibition on the History of Magic, and in fact “adaptations” of the audiobook script written from the books published consequent to History of Magic displays.

I received several emails from around the world asking what I thought of the “four new Potter books” which some readers thought had to have been written by Rowling. This was not an unreasonable leap if you read stories about the PotterMore announcement that suggested just that.

The rumor and the subsequent excitement in fandom led to this announcement on 4 June from, ‘Is J. K. Rowling Writing More Harry Potter books?’:

There has been some press misreporting recently that J.K. Rowling is about to publish four more Harry Potter stories. Just to clear this up, these are not books written by J.K. Rowling.

It is a series of four short non-fiction eBooks, to be published by Pottermore Publishing, inspired by the British Library exhibition and its companion books Harry Potter: A History of Magic.

The A Journey Through… series of eBooks contains no new material by J.K. Rowling and are bite size e-reads, each themed by Hogwarts lessons, with material adapted from the companion audiobook narrated by Natalie Dormer. They have been published in this format to make the content available in other languages for the first time.

For more information about these eBooks, go to

Three Notes:

(1) Not By Rowling: Again, “Nothing to see here, folks; please move along.” These are fan-servicing units for profit, full stop. Nothing original, nothing from Rowling, and nothing but a re-packaging of material adapted from a library exhibit.

(2) The Titles: Harry Potter: A Journey Through Charms and Defence Against the Dark ArtsHarry Potter: A Journey Through Potions and HerbologyHarry Potter: A Journey Through Divination and Astronomy, and Harry Potter: A Journey Through Care of Magical Creatures. The books on potions and charms come out 27 June.

(3) Will I Buy It? I will almost certainly pick up, that is, download the Divinations and Potions books because my thesis discusses the alchemy and astrology embedded in Harry Potter. I confess to feeling foolish for spending that money, though I haven’t yet, because I have no reason to expect that there will be new material or things I have seen but forgotten (just as good as new material in the end) in this profit-taking re-packaging.

Your thoughts?



  1. Stephanie says

    I visited the British Library exhibition last year. It was fascinating and curated/designed very well. Feeling inspired and curious to learn more, I bought Harry Potter: A History of Magic. If nothing else, a (overpriced?) souvenir from a great day.
    If people are interested in the content of that exhibit then no doubt the book would suffice. Repackaging its contents to make it more accessible and pocket-sized seems a clear money-grab to me. (I understand the point about different languages, but then why not translate the whole of the original?)

  2. Mr. Granger,

    When I see info like this in the news, all does is just lend a bit more credence to an idea I’ve expressed here before.

    When I see the lengths that marketing is willing to go when it comes making a buck off Rowling, I can’t help thinking it’s all a sign of sunk the market is, and of the reduced role that legacy authors (like JKR) have in this Brave New Publishing World. I think the way to get this particular point across is through the use a brief (and very minor) parable.

    Imagine the following scene, Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Harper Lee are all gathered in front of the desk of some high-priced lawyer from a mega-lithic publishing firm. This guys doesn’t look like he knows much about books, if anything he seems like a “Player” transplanted from Beverly Hills. This guy has just made a demand of all four of the most well-known writers of the modern era. He wants them to pen either sequels or spin-offs of their most famous work (“Sandman”, “Potter”, “Mockingbird” et al). This causes the three youngest members to look at each other in apprehension, while Ms. Lee just scowls. It’s obvious someone’s got to say something, yet no one wants to be the one to have to take the fall. Finally, Gaiman speaks up:

    Gaiman: “Er, yeah, well, you see…

    The Lawyer’s eyebrows are raised, attentive, like a cat sizing up a mouse.

    Gaiman: The thing is, mate, is that we can’t just tell our imaginations what to write whenever we want.

    The Lawyer’s eyes narrow in an “are you freakin’ serious right now?” look. King takes this moment to step forward.

    King: What he means is coming up with the kind idea you’re asking for is a bit more difficult than you might expect.

    Lawyer: Yeah, how come?

    King: Well, I mean the trouble is a lot of the spin-offs you’re asking for came from novels whose storylines were all pretty much self-contained. The books did their jobs, told a story with a beginning, middle, and end, and that was it. The ironic part is that a lot of these were just spur of the moment ideas. Heck, I only had one book because of this one night I spent in an old hotel. If that hadn’t happened, I doubt the book that came out of it would even exist today if weren’t for that.

    Rowling: Also, a good creative idea is something you have to give time to grow. You might start out with the germ of a story premise, sometimes, though, you have to take time to nurture it to see if it will grow or lead anywhere that’s promising from a narrative standpoint. It’s just plain good writing sense, really.

    Lee: Some of us have said all we had to years ago. No sense trying to squeeze blood from a stone.

    Lawyer: Uh-huh. Well, that’s all real cute, kids. Now let me lay down a bit of reality here, shall we? This business is hanging on by a thread. The public never reads much anymore, so that means the market has changed. This means you just don’t make enough income for us like you use to. That means if you want any of the ideas you’d like to write down to see the light of day, you got to give us a little quid pro quo from now one. You may have been top dogs back in the day, now you’re all just “little people”, and there’s not much room for middle men to help guarantee anything like artist’s right from now on. Ya get me? That means if we need material you all better deliver, or else you could always pick up where left off before you decided to take the plunge in this business.”

    It helps to remember that the names of the artists listed in the above parable are all what are known as “legacy authors”. That means they are kept around more because of name brand recognition, rather than in acknowledgement of their actual talents. I don’t how that must sound, yet I can’t shake the idea that it is as close to an accurate illustration of the plight of a lot of artists going forward right now.

  3. That was fun, Chris, but each of these authors (one a ghost?) could tell the lawyer to get in touch with their “people” as they walked out of the meeting, rolling their eyeballs and laughing at his self-importance and effrontery. All have sufficient fortunes and fan followings as to be above any threat from the marketers about future projects.

  4. While I enjoyed ChrisC’s fictive scenario a lot, I have to agree with John. These authors have more fans, fortune and reputation than they can ever spend – even in the afterlife. That’s one of the reasons why I refuse to believe that JKR embarked onto the Fantastic-Beasts endeavor simply for money grabbing reasons. I still expect very much that she intends to go somewhere with her story arc – if she gets the chance to continue as planned – , although the execution hasn’t been stellar so far, and her skills to write film scripts aren’t as well developed as her novel writing skills. Unfortunately projects like the four “new” eBooks – which are very clearly a money-making scheme – speak a different language. But I suspect that Pottermore needs to stay in the business of creating new income sources. Therefore JKR goes along with these marketing ploys. And to be honest: there’s no reason why authors with great ideas should also be totally idealistic as far as financial aspects are concerned. JKR has never shown any adversity whatsoever against the trappings of extreme wealth.

  5. Brian Basore says

    Well, maybe these ebooks will boost the sale of the CD audio book of Fantastic Beasts, read by Eddie Redmayne. *That* was written by JKR.

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