Pottermania once again sweeping the world with the release of the
latest film, and with so many authors living locally, books are
once again brought into the spotlight. But only vaguely. They are
not so much in the spotlight as catching a reflected glow from the
golden cloak of Harry Potter.
get me wrong, I am a fan of the books and fully appreciate how it
has got young children into reading, however I feel that books should
be more widely recognised and publicised than in Harry Potter. Is
Harry Potter doing as much harm to the book industry as it is good?
are a multitude of styles out there for young minds to be inspired
by, and many fine authors. These include Jaqueline Wilson, Philip
Pullman, the local writer Nina Bawden, David Almond and (looking
back a little) Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton. Perhaps the media should
give as much promotion to these as they do to Harry Potter?
- A dying breed?
are over 50 libraries in Gloucestershire, including four mobile
libraries which make a combined 450 stops over every fourtnight.
They provide book services for the housebound, for the deaf and
hard of hearing as well as for the blind. But has the internet meant
the demise of the common library?
in the slightest. The interest in books, though it slumped through
the 90s, has bounced back. Through publications such as the Harry
Potter series and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials interest in
books has been reborn, and once more the young people of Gloucestershire
are discovering the wonders of reading.
Caves- Potter Advertising
I walk into a bookshop, I hold my breath. I am immediately struck
by the sheer number of books that I could choose from. Shelves and
shelves of books, with the floor that separates them sprouting promotional
stands with large, colourful pictures and quotes from critics on
And plastered over the children's shelves are lables reading "If
you liked Harry Potter, you'll like this". This is a gallant
attempt by the book shops to promote other books, using the Potter
brand to do so.
type of publicising has lead to a flood of books for youngsters
about wands and wizards and all things fantastical. This drive has
been fuelled by the re-publication of the Lord Of The Rings books,
and the success of the films from these books. Yet in this sea of
often mediocre texts by authors merely jumping on the band wagon,
quality fantasy novels are being lost.
gems have appeared at the same time, but this is more due to coincidence
that they were produced at the same time as the Harry Potter phenomenon
than by inspiration from J.K.Rowling. For example, His Dark Materials
(the best selling trilogy by Phillip Pullman) has become a favourite
read among teenagers.
Reading Breadth Among Teens
But while children have always loved to have their imaginations
expanded through tales of fictional and fantastic places, the sales
of biography and autobiography to teenagers is on the up and up.
In particular, books of sports stars are selling well. Meanwhile
adults are continuing to show an eclectic taste.
Boost For Books
continued coverage of the books scene on the radio with programs
such as Open Book and the arts show Front Row on BBC Radio 4 keeps
the world (or at least that part of it which listens to Radio 4)
up to date with the newest releases on the book scene.
television recently seems to have remembered that books exist, and
has quickly released The Big Read campaign and now the End of Story
programs, where best-selling authors begin a story for viewers to
broadening coverage of books is first meeting the demand for literary
information, and then expanding that demand. Harry Potter has sparked
a fire of literary curiosity that is spreading fast, and looks to
continue to spread for many months to come, provided the books programming
article contains user-generated content (ie external contribution)
expressing a personal opinion, not the views of BBC Gloucestershire.
by Ed Leighton
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