25th Anniversary of Philosopher’s Stone!

Twenty five years ago today, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published by Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom. I want to share three articles in British papers about the event for your reflection and comment on this anniversary.

(1) ‘There was practically a riot at King’s Cross’: an oral history of Harry Potter at 25 (The Guardian). This piece shares the memories of many of the principals involved with the publication of Philosopher’s Stone and I confess to being startled at how much I learned from this “oral history.”

The only disturbing thing to me, though sadly and perfectly understandable in light of Team Trans terrorism, was reading that J. K. Rowling is “not taking part in publicity around the anniversary.” Such a shame that there could not have been a gathering of Rowling and the Little Agency and Bloomsbury veterans that made this publishing event possible.

(2) Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury says reading boom here to stay (BBC.com)

Bloomsbury also said sales of Harry Potter books had increased by 5%, as the 25th anniversary of the series approaches.

It added that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was the sixth bestselling children’s book of the year, according to UK Nielsen Bookscan, which reports book-buying trends.

Forgive me for doubting that the incipient anniversary had anything to do with the increased sales of Philosopher’s Stone this year. Without the relevant data, of course, nothing can be said with certainty, but I think it more than likely that Potter book sales have been climbing every year for quite some time now as Generation Hex has children and buys a new set for their bedtime reading (and new young readers discover and make them their own). It seems credible, consequently, that the Hogwarts Saga will remain the 21st Century’s ‘Shared Text’ for at least the foreseeable future.

(3) London’s most popular Harry Potter books ahead of 25th anniversary of Philosopher’s Stone (Evening Standard). This very short article is really just a list of Amazon’s ranking of the seven books from most to least popular: “Amazon.co.uk has released its sales information via London sales data, which includes both print and digital sales, as well as downloads.” Not too surprisingly, the list only has two departures from a list of the books in sequence (as a series, the first should be the most popular and the last or later books much less popular because some readers naturally will fall away from the series as it is published).

The two exceptions are that Deathly Hallows  was one spot more popular than Half-Blood Prince and, the only real head-scratcher, Prisoner of Azkaban was rated the sales loser of the set. Go figure.

I have three questions I hope Rowling Readers will answer on this anniversary:

  • Where were you twenty-five years ago — and did the publication of Harry Potter and your eventual encounter with it change the direction of your life in any significant fashion?
  • What was your most memorable experience at a Midnight Madness book release event or in any other purchase moment with the books?
  • At what level of enthusiasm do you share your love of these seven books with friends who have not yet read them? Are you a Potter proselytizer (“Read this today! I’m buying you the set!”)? An enthusiast (“Really, there’s so much more to these books than you can believe. I heartily recommend them”)? Or are you over it (“Potter is fun, but it’s history. Pick up Cuckoo’s Calling for the adult version”)? 

Thanks in advance for sharing your answers, thank you for the decades of fun and learning together in dioscussion of these books and others, and have a happy 25th anniversary, Potter-philes! (A hat tip to the friends in the UK who sent me the links to these three articles!).

25th Anniversary of Philosopher’s Stone!