Darren Barefoot
Darren Barefoot

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July 14, 2003

Arwen discusses the trouble with grown-ups reading Harry Potter. That got me started on a related topic: our growing biblioligarchy (a word, incidentally, which I just invented).

My complaint about the popularization of the Harry Potter books is the same as my complaint about Oprah's book club. It puts too few books in the hands of too many people.

Maybe it's wrong, but I have this perception that a lot of people buy books based on the bestseller list, or what's in the news (e.g. Harry Potter or Oprah). Just as in any other industry, most people don't make particularly informed book-purchasing decisions. You get a kind of biblioligarchy, where few books are purchased by many, many people. This is, of course, a general trend of cultural capitalism (see also book stores, record companies and, I don't know, media companies), but it disturbs me.

In short, Harry Potter is, by its own success (and the success of the media machine behind him) contributing to the cultural model where there are a million people with one book, instead of a million people with a million different books.

Incidentally, way back in the early days of HP, I tried reading the first book (whatever it's called, Harry Potter and the Filthy Short Order Cook? Harry Potter and the Hooded Fang? Harry Potter and My Best Friend's Wedding? I can never remember), and was hopelessly bored. I found it utterly unoriginal and a real trudge to read. I gave up after about two hundred pages.


1:13:01 PM        Books The Arts Words