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Dispatches from the Digital Revolution

Scholastic opens online HP book club

We are children of our time here at Appazoogle, so you won’t be surprised that the latest Harry Potter news has got us interested. According to a recent press release, Scholastic is teaming up with J.K. Rowling to kickoff an online book club for the Boy Who Lived.

harry potter reading club logo

Source: Hpread.scholastic.com

And while the event won’t happen until October 11, it’s time to mark your calendars now—and sign up online. In fact, online plays a critical role in this venture. Not only will J.K. be webcast, but the reading club has a snazzy homepage as well as its own Twitter feed (#hpREADS). Also, according to the press release:

Each month Scholastic will add new themed activities to complement the Reading Club discussions that will often relate to experiences on the Pottermore website.

(I see what you’re doing there, Scholastic, driving traffic back and forth between your site and J.K.’s site. A win-win solution indeed!)

While I think this is an interesting way to continue to engage children in this series, I think it’s interesting that most of the online resources are not geared toward kids. Instead, they’re geared toward “club leaders”—in most cases, school teachers and librarians.

I think this is notable because I remember being part of the original Harry Potter craze. Not much there seemed to be targeted to teachers and librarians. Instead (at least from my perspective between the ages of 9 and 19), readers were the central focus. “The kids.”

But could it be that this new approach—reaching out to teachers—is just part of the life cycle of the megahit blockbuster young adult novel? I guess there are few enough megahit blockbuster young adult novels that I hadn’t caught on to it yet… but I’m curious. Will the Hunger Games series play out like this? Percy Jackson and the Olympians? Twilight? Or is there something special about Harry Potter, the seven-hit wonder that started this whole “young adult series” craze, that isn’t replicable?

Other publishers are certainly trying to replicate it. Film studios are certainly trying to replicate it. Authors are leaping at the opportunity to sign multi-book YA deals with their publishers. I, for one, am interested to see how this rapidly crowding arena of serial YA blockbusters will end up—and what the norm will become as the market for this sort of publishing evens out.

In the meantime, I’ll keep my ears open on October 11 to hear how this book club thing pans out. And to see whether this sort of campaign will help the Harry Potter series retain some of its force and relevance as the hubbub around the original book and film releases fades further into the past.

About Leah Thompson

Writing and publishing professional in the Boston area.

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This entry was posted on August 13, 2012 by in Culture and tagged , , , , .

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