Why I Don’t Really Think It Means All That Much

Blogging! Only two posts in and already have I begun to neglect the Damsel. And I had such good intentions! I keep thinking about things that might make a good blog post, but then I don’t want to blog for the sake of blogging, and here we are, madness and sweaty palms. I briefly contemplated writing about Missouri Congressman Todd Akin’s fuckwittery of epic proportions, but then surely everything has already been said and I couldn’t possibly hope to add anything clever (mostly because after a while I get incoherent with rage). Another idea that briefly crossed my mind was to write about an ad for a “Posh Dating” website that recently popped up on my Facebook – Zuckerberg and friends seem to have found out about me dating above my station. But then I kind of forgot what I found so funny about it and there was no way I could milk an entire post from Hamish and Co. on PoshFlirt.co.uk, so on I moved. And now this new London obsession with Nolympics – yes yes, fun while it lasted, certainly a blast, now let’s get back to normal please – again, everything has already been wrung out of it.

But! When I got into the office this morning and switched on my computer, there it was – the perfect blog story. The Hunger Games trilogy has officially passed Harry Potter in terms of sales figures on Amazon.com. And because I haven’t really aged past 16, I felt mildly offended on behalf of all eight billion Harry Potter fans on the planet and tried to come up with reasons Why That Doesn’t Actually Mean All That Much. (See, the title does make sense.) And I don’t even dislike The Hunger Games – in fact, I hugely enjoyed the novels and devoured all three in about a fortnight, have given my sister a box set for Christmas, got Soldier Boy and several friends into it and went to see the film almost immediately upon release. But after that I put them back on the shelf, and kind of stopped thinking about them. And Harry Potter – well, it’s twenty-three past midnight, well past my bedtime, and I am writing a not-terribly-well-thought-out blog post about why Suzanne Collins making a shitload of wonga from e-book sales doesn’t mean that we love her more than JK Rowling. So without further ado, here’s the list.

First: It’s Amazon. (And what’s more, Amazon US.) And while we may all feel that they are the only booksellers in the world that really matter anymore, there is one huge disadvantage with a bookstore that stocks its goods in huge warehouses on industrial estates miles from anywhere that matters – they are shit at organising midnight releases. So while I’m sure they have made huge profit from the large group of people who were unfussed enough that they could stand waiting for a couple of days, weeks, months before joining the boy wizard on his next adventure, they missed out on the gazillions of devoted fans who happily queued in the cold for their copy, wearing Gryffindor robes. And I’m also sure that not every family is as mental as mine, who had to buy four individual copies of the Deathly Hallows on the first day because we just couldn’t agree who would get to read it first. (Then there was the story of when we were all bundled in the car, me driving, trying to get home as quickly as possible so I could start reading, and then my sister started teasing me by reading out half sentences and I turned around to hit her but (very nearly) hit a cyclist instead. Hilarity ensued.)

Second: Digital Revolution. Kindle figures are counted within the overall sales figures of course, and Harry Potter wasn’t available in e-book format until March this year. And when it came out, sales in the UK alone topped one million pound within three days. Despite the fact that the world and its grandmother already owned a copy – again, I’m not making assumptions about the sanity of other people just because my family, in addition to the four English Deathly Hallows copies, has two copies of each book in German – one for reading, one for display – at least one of each, if not more, in English, plus a couple of odd ones in French and Russian.

Third: Three words – Young Adult fiction. Can you see parents reading their children bedtime stories about Katniss’ perennial homonal woes and Mutts tearing holes into Cato? I can’t either. I can, however, see all 3.4 members of the average white middle-class household holed up in their respective corner of the little semi-d’ in Surrey with their noses in a copy of Mockingjay each. And I can also remember reading to children who will probably never in their life cross the threshold of their local Waterstones branch (or whatever the equivalent German book chain is these days), but who were nonetheless breathlessly following Harry’s first trip to Diagon Alley.

Fourth: None of the broadsheets have picked up the Amazon press release yet. Which leads me to the assumption that they have decided to take the news with a pound of salt as I have.

Draco dormiens numquam titillandus.

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One thought on “Why I Don’t Really Think It Means All That Much

  1. My opinion?
    There will be a lot of books following with much more copies sold but I think they won’t stay in mind. Reading is kind of temporary fashion. I must admit that when I was a teen most of my friends didn’t actually read. Just the stuff for school. Only a few went to the library or bookstores. Maybe 5 out of 30?
    But today thanks to glittering vampires even teenage girls find their ways into the stores and buy books. It really wasn’t that way when I was young.
    But back to temporary fashion: Many books are sold now and maybe become bestseller but I don’t believe people will remember then in years. There a novels like The Lord of the Rings, Jane Austen, Bronte and other literature that already lastet a long time and they still will be for sale and in library shelves many years from now. But Twilight and stuff like that are just a milked cow and in some time (maybe years) no one will want and remember it.Maybe laugh about what crap people read back then.
    I enjoyed the Hunger Games, too, but I don’t think they will become “evergreens”. If you know what I mean. And of course many people buy books as ebooks. They are cheaper and it’s easier to ignore them it you don’t like them as you didn’t buy an expensive copy.
    No, it really doesn’t mean all that much! Harry Potter still rules the shelves! I have my own copies and books I really love I have to own as hardcover editions – though I love the kindle. And like you wrote, there isn’t the feeling behind ordering an ebook via whispernet ,,, Harry Potter let the people read! Not because out of a fashion but because everyone wanted to know!
    Ok, we have to discuss that further next month. 😉

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