HARI SHENOY writes from Bangalore: Saturday, July 21, saw the entire world being engulfed by ‘Pottermania’ for the very last time, with the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Our country was not spared of this phenomenon either, with people lining up in the wee hours of the weekend morning in front of bookstores all over the country, where they had pre-ordered their copies, to pick them up and start reading them immediately.
I am a self-confessed Harry Potter fan myself, and I had pre-ordered my book from Strand Book Stall four months ago. I started following the series in 2000, slightly later than quite a few other people, but I was gripped by the attention to detail, the fast paced narrative and the magical flights of fancy that J.K. Rowling managed to lead my mind into.
Everyone who’s followed the series knew that JKR had promised to tie up all the loose ends she’d left dangling in the minds of the readers, and they awaited the book release with bated breath.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was a best seller even before it was officially released, and it still is selling like hot-cakes, with 20,000 copies being sold within the first 12 hours in Bangalore alone, according to a leading daily newspaper.
In this day and age, when book-reading had been relegated to the backseat with the advent of television, movies and the internet, Rowling has arguably made book-reading fashionable once again.
The media has also contributed to the hype, with newspapers, radio stations and TV channels providing extensive coverage in the countdown towards July 21. The release of the book was initially thwarted with some photographs of the book having been put up over the internet, though fans all over chose to wait till the hardback landed in their hands, not succumbing to temptation. Bloomsburry and Scholastic, the publishers of the books, have sought legal action against the miscreant(s) responsible for the leak.
The manner in which a few news channels (Headlines Today and Times Now being the ones that I watched) showcased the unfolding of events post the launch of the book was pathetic, to say the least. Knowing fully well that fans wanted to know which of the characters lived, and who died, and Harry’s fate at the very end, these channels chose to reveal the ending of the book, in what they referred to as ‘exclusive coverage of Pottermania’.
Having switched off cellphones, and remaining obvious to media reporting until the book was done, most die-hard fans were spared of the agony of having some reporter tell them what they would’ve rather found first-hand. It would not be surprising though, if some distraught fan were to sue one of these news channels for having rained in on his/her parade.
It is one thing to report events as they happen, and resort to sensationalism on occasion as and when the news channels consider it warranted. But it is quite another altogether to play spoilsport and attempt to ruin the ending of a book series that has created history.
I wish the media would think twice before it chooses to resort to making book lovers miserable at the expense of a few extra TRPs.