I’d long wanted to offer my thoughts on this topic, so when Today’s Machining World approached me, I thought they were an ideal outlet. I wrote:
Absolutely. Most of all, the Harry Potter series is a social phenomenon. It’s not mainly about the books. It’s about kids – and often adults – sharing a common reading experience. We crave this kind of social connection – that’s what Oprah’s Book Club is about too. We like to look forward to the same books, read them at the same time, and talk about them afterwards. If you took these same kids, put them on a desert island, and just gave them copies of Harry Potter, with no further information or explanation, most of them wouldn’t be so impressed.
With the current Potter series now over, we are looking for something else to latch on to. We may not find it right away, but when we do, the world will be wealthier and have more readers. Some other book series will trump the popularity of Harry Potter – it is simply a question of when.
For a differing point of view, scroll to p.50 to read Megan McArdle, and on p.51 is Kevin Hassett.