JK Rowling’s Pottermore Profits Are Plummeting Post-Pandemic
Just like with Kayne’s West’s mental illness and the death of Queen Elizabeth II, I don’t think misfortune happening to people, even celebrities, is something to be celebrated. Think what you will about JK Rowling, but she worked hard for her money and it’s unfortunate that the financial legacy she intends to pass on to her children is in jeopardy.
The only thing “unfortunate” about this situation is that JK Rowling hasn’t gone totally bankrupt. Why? Well, unless you live under a rock (if so, no shame) you’re well aware that JK Rowling is a total transphobe, and therefore deserving of copious amounts of karmic backlash. And it seems that she is finally getting her due.
So what’s the skinny? Give me some numbers here so I can laugh my way to the bank
According to Bookseller.com, JK Rowling’s Wizarding World global digital publisher Pottermore saw its profits plummet by almost half after last year. The publisher is currently down 40% from its 2021 sales boom, placing its total profits at around £5.7m in the 12 months to March 31st, 2022. The previous year, Pottermore reported its earnings at £9.5m. The company describes the drop-off as “the unwinding of the Covid sales bounce during lockdown”.
And it’s true, Pottermore’s revenue skyrocketed nearly 150% during the pandemic, from £3.8m in 2020 to £9.5m the following year. The publishing organization claims that this sudden spike in profits was due to “a significantly increased appetite for digital reading during the pandemic, strong sales performance of the Harry Potter e-books and digital audiobooks, and continued investment in franchise planning in partnership with Warner Bros.”
Dishearteningly, it seems that Pottermore’s profits have not necessarily “tanked” but rather fallen back to normal levels. The company claims it delivered a “robust result” during this recent 2021/2022 interval. It also claims that it will remain “buoyant” during 2022/2023—and this may very well be the case. As of now, the Harry Potter audiobooks have cracked over one billion hours of listening time on Audible. It seems like Rowling’s legacy is like the Greek hydra: cut off one head, and two more grow in its place. Except instead of heads, it’s bags of money.
The decline in Pottermore’s profits is not likely not unique to that particular publisher alone. According to Publisher’s Weekly, print book sales are down in general. Over the first nine months of 2022, print book sales fell 4.8% compared to 2021. Individual book sales dropped from 570 million copies sold in the January through September period of 2021 to 542.6 million in 2022, around 6.6%. However, this may be more evidence of the book market balancing itself out after the pandemic, as book sales rose 8.9% throughout 2020.
But I want to laugh at celebrity billionaire misfortune!
Slow down there, don’t cry! There may be a reason to laugh yet. As the TikToker @sabiesbooks pointed out, JK Rowling’s legacy is not aging well. Reason #1: her transphobia. It’s likely that the original readers of the Harry Potter series are not as keen to pass on the books to the younger generation. The original readers of Harry Potter may consider it a bit of a sore spot that they read all the books twice, watched all the movies, and wrote heaping piles of Draco/Harry slash fiction without realizing that Harry Potter leaves a problematic legacy.
JK Rowling’s abhorrent point of view about trans people aside, the books are… rough. Rereading with a modern eye, it’s hard not to cringe at how dated they feel. The lack of a diverse cast of characters is a major detriment to the series. There are only a handful of characters of color in the series, one of which Hermione awkwardly refers to as “the dark one”. Yikes. The treatment of the character of Cho Chang is also deeply problematic. As @sabiesbooks pointed out, it’s bad enough that Rowling named the only East Asian character featured in the book “Cho Chang,” and worse that Rowling characterized her as one of the most annoying and insufferable characters in the novel. Rather than moving the plot forward, Cho Chang often feels like a distraction to the main action of the book. She is the object of the main character’s turbulent teenage affections, and then is ultimately discarded and replaced with Ginny Weasley.
And speaking of bad romance, Ron and Hermione? Really? Ron spent six books being terrible to Hermione, and we’re expected to believe that he’s worthy of her love in the seventh? I would have rather seen her get with Neville Longbottom.
And this doesn’t even touch on the problematic point of view about slavery in the series. The slavery of house elves is (according to the vast majority of the characters) justifiable, and Hermione is endlessly ridiculed by both her classmates (and at times the author herself) for her Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare, mockingly named “S.P.E.W.” Hermione spends the entirety of one of the books as a sort of “bleeding heart liberal” trope, as if the abolishment of slavery is a “quaint liberal notion”.
And speaking of ugly tropes (or rather outright racist stereotypes) the goblins of the series are portrayed as “beady-eyed” and “hook-nosed” beings that control the banking system to further their own “greedy” ends. I wonder if Kanye West read these books as a child, because they’re probably where he gets a lot of his antisemitic views. Gross.
Those of us who have read the books (myself included) likely feel some embarrassment and shame for having once enjoyed them. We don’t want to pass the influence of these books on, we want to let it die. There are so many other modern stories that are far more deserving of a place in history. J
K Rowling made off with billions of dollars. While we can’t control her financial legacy, we can control her artistic legacy. We can choose to rag on these books until the end of time, and at least that will stick it to Rowling’s great-great-great grandchildren. So what if they weren’t responsible for their great-great-greatmother’s problematic views? They’re rich kids. They could use a little love tap from karma here and there. Maybe a big love tap. Huge. Knock some teeth out.
(featured image: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
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