‘Harry’ situation for fan
There’s nothing more enjoyable than curling up on a rainy day with an encyclopedia. It’s easy to get lost in the twists and turns of the plot and pages just seem to magically flip before my eyes. Before I know it, I’ve read the encyclopedia cover to cover – or not.
Encyclopedias are used for one thing – as a reference guide. They are not usually very entertaining and are not normally read cover to cover. Yet J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter phenomenon, seems to fear that the publication of a Harry Potter encyclopedia by someone other than herself will cause her to lose money and is a copyright infringement worthy of a lawsuit.
While it may be true that this encyclopedia, a paper form of the Web site “Harry Potter Lexicon,” takes materials from Rowling’s works and plans to republish them, it is ridiculous that Rowling thinks this will have any impact on the sale of her books.
Rowling previously praised the Lexicon Web site and has even admitted to using it to check facts while writing the fifth book, instead of going out and buying a copy of the book. Yet now that Steven Vander Ark, founder of the Web site and author of the book, wants to publish a paper version, Rowling has her undies in a bundle.
Anyone who knows anything about Rowling has heard the story of how she was a poor single mom and started writing Harry Potter on napkins – a true rags-to-riches tale. Now, despite the fact that she is richer than the queen of England, Rowling seems to be acting like a spoiled brat and a whiney baby.
As an avid Harry Potter fan I understand how fans think. I personally would not waste money on an encyclopedia when I can just look online, so I don’t think the sale of this Lexicon book would really generate billions of dollars.
Rowling’s main concern and reason for the lawsuit is she herself has plans to publish a Harry Potter encyclopedia and fears this encyclopedia will cause too much competition so people won’t buy her book. Now, I’m not saying Rowling is being selfish here; she has stated numerous times over the last few years that when she publishes her encyclopedia all profit will go to charity. I know she is good for her word because she has published two other offshoots of Harry Potter, one about the wizard sport, quidditch, and one about magical beasts, and sent all proceeds to charity – $30 million thus far.
I feel like Rowling should know her fans by now; they are exactly what their name calls them – fanatics. Harry Potter fans are crazy. Rowling should know the people who buy this Lexicon encyclopedia will still go out and buy her version. People will be much more likely to buy her version, especially since she has promised lots of information that didn’t make it into the books, such as a couple subplots and background information about some minor characters. Maybe we’ll learn more about this whole gay Dumbledore thing, huh? The mere fact this encyclopedia will be penned by Rowling is enough to ensure thousands of copies will be sold.
I understand that technically Rowling may have the right to sue for copyright infringement, but it just seems so rude. Vander Ark is a huge Harry Potter fan, and the fact that Rowling brought him to tears in the courtroom, as it said in a CNN article, makes me question the integrity of a woman who I have always respected.
Rowling, who dedicated the seventh Harry Potter book to her fans, has always talked about how she loves her fans and if it wasn’t for them, she wouldn’t have been successful. It’s true – if it wasn’t for people like Vander Ark who kept up the Harry Potter hype during the long droughts between book publications, there may not have been so many people standing in line at the midnight releases. She should be thanking Vander Ark for his loyalty and dedication, not suing him and making him cry in court.
This self-made billionaire seems to be forgetting where she came from and is turning into one greedy lady. Honestly, what would Ron Weasley have to say about this? He would be disappointed, that’s what.
Petersen is a senior print journalism major and Showcase editor of The Spectator.