Monday, June 23, 2003

I couldn't let the weekend go by without passing comment on the torrent of media diarrhoea that's accompanied the launch of the new Harry Potter book.

I've got nothing against J.K. Rowling.

What I object to is the way a carefully choreographed publicity campaign has been dressed up as "news." The "news" that Harry Potter is going to be the best/fastest-selling/most popular children's book of all time simply hikes up the hysteria another notch and thus helps sell more copies. Even my friends at BBC News Online seem to have been carried away by the Harry Potter "phenomenon." Hell, even blind kids aren't immune from the onslaught.

My nephews and niece love Harry Potter and watch the DVDs incessantly so maybe it's me that's missing something. Maybe we are seeing a genuine cultural phenomenon -- and if it encourages kids to pick up a book and read then great.

Responding to Jeremy Paxman's question about the secrecy surrounding the book launch, Rowling said that "one could be cynical, and I'm sure you would be disposed to be so and say it was a marketing ploy, but I don't want the kids to know what's coming." (Source: BBC News Online)

Nope, sorry. It's a marketing ploy.

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