News: The New Book by J. K. Rowling

The possibility has become anticipated reality. It had long been rumored that J. K. Rowling was working on another novel. However, perhaps “rumored” is not the correct word to use in this case, as Rowling herself has tweeted several times over the past two years that “pen and paper” were her priorities. Now, when you visit her official website, the place where fans the world over have gone to get clues about upcoming Harry Potter book releases, we find that the place as we remember it is now gone. Instead, a message is found:

J. K. Rowling is to publish a new novel for adults.

Further details will be announced later in the year.

J.K. Rowling’s official website is currently being refreshed and redesigned, and will be relaunched later this Spring.

Later, in “J. K. Rowling script”, a further note is found:

Although I’ve enjoyed writing it just as much, my next novel will be very different from the Harry Potter series.

Additionally, a hardcover book with a yellow jacket (as shown above) can be seen to the left of that note. This is all the information the official Rowling website gives us, though there is a form at the bottom where you can sign up for further announcements, which I have done, and I suggest that you do the same. I have not yet received any additional announcements. However, Rowling tweeted the following shortly after I registered:

As you may have heard, I have a new book out later this year. Very different to Harry, although I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much.

As this tweet indicates, we now know that the book will be released “later this year”. This is the closest we have to an official release date. We do not, however, have any idea about the title. Some speculate that this novel will be released during the summer and at midnight, akin to the last few Harry Potter novels. It certainly is possible, though it may be unlikely considering that this novel is clearly being marketed for adults, and it seems to me that “summer midnight releases” are meant to market more to children, as they have summer break, whereas many adults do not. Speaking of marketing, this announcement begs the consideration of two questions:

Will non-Harry fans even buy it?

Will any Harry fans not buy it?

It is definitely unlikely that anyone who had previously boycotted (or even burned) “those witchcraft books” on principle will suddenly buy a book by the same author without a second thought. However, it has been rumored elsewhere that the genre of the novel will be crime and/or mystery. So, perhaps, a few fans of the crime or mystery genres who were simply indifferent to Harry Potter, or who don’t care for the fantasy genre as a whole, will buy this book and give it a try. As to the other question, there are several fans who consider themselves children at heart, or fans that are in fact children, who are not going to give this book a try simply because it will feature characters who are not children or young adults, and they won’t be able to relate to them. So, what happens if the answer to the first question is generally “no”, and the second question is “yes”? Is it possible for this book to fail?

I doubt it.

Daniel Radcliffe got his lucky break when he landed the role of Harry Potter. His challenge now, however, is to break out into a career that does not involve him being typecast or labeled forever as “Harry Potter”, but merely as “Dan Radcliffe”. Since Harry (and even during), Radcliffe has ventured to try out other roles, such as those in “Equus” at the West End (which I saw), “How to Succeed In Business” on Broadway, and now in “The Woman In Black”. Radcliffe is proving to be a successful and versatile actor, though in my mind, at least for now, I will always think of him as the boy who waved a wand, defeated a Dark Lord, and bravely tried to cry realistically in front of a camera. It will take a while, I think, for him to leave Harry behind.

Likewise with Rowling. She is currently only known for Harry Potter, so is it to her benefit to market to a much wider, adult audience? Should bookstores put up posters announcing the release of a new novel by the “Harry Potter author”, or should the posters instead merely feature the currently unreleased title and a short synopsis, letting her new story speak for itself? However it is marketed, I think that it is very likely to be successful. I plan to buy one, at the very least. There are just the kinds of questions I think about when an announcement as big as this comes out. We’ll have to wait and see what happens!

Before I close, I want to point out what the announced “redesign” of Rowling’s official website means for her other website, Pottermore. I think it is definitely possible that the content specifically about the Harry Potter books that was previously featured on her official website will be moved to Pottermore. I wrote the following in a previous article about Pottermore:

Will any information will be migrated from to PottermoreThere is already a lot of background information about characters there already (Dean Thomas), and a lot about magical objects (WANDS). Why not migrate that information to Pottermore, and make exclusively about the author and not as much about the Harry Potter novels?

Again, we will have to see what will happen with that too, but my educated guess is that this content will move to Pottermore eventually. Considering that the public release of Pottermore is months behind schedule, any new content is probably pushed to years into the future, so this is why I say “eventually”, rather than “soon”. Hopefully now that Rowling is done with this new novel, she can help get Pottermore back on schedule?