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Subject: Do you think Harry Potter would be as popular as it was/is if.... rss

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Guido Van Horn
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I promise I don't have an ulterior motive or entrenched viewpoint, I simply want to see what people thing.... good/bad/indifferent. The reason I picked Harry Potter is because it is fairly recently created and is a book about a boy written by a woman, and I was thinking about that distinction when the idea/question came to me.

Poll
Do you think Harry Potter would be as popular if Harry was....

(Assume everything else is pretty much the same)
  No Yes I think your question is stupid and let me tell you why in the comments
A girl
A minority boy
A minority girl
Written by a man
Written by a minority
Set in America
      78 answers
Poll created by GuidoVanHorn




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Mac Mcleod
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No opinion but... did turn up this.

http://www.bustle.com/articles/90942-12-ways-the-harry-potte...

But more to the point... this

https://www.quora.com/Would-the-Harry-Potter-phenomenon-have...

And the Hunger Games also comes to mind.

But not Twilight. That was more creepy when you really thought about it.

I also liked most of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.
http://hpmor.com/
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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Apart from who wrote it I d not think any of it's popularity would change.

What it was a a triumph of hype (it was not the frost work of it's kind), and hype ignore race and sex. I do however think that the fact she was a white woman helped a bit.
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casey r lowe
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yes to everything (now if you had asked the same about twilight id put a few nos in there)
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Guido Van Horn
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5 people so far have selected the "I think your question is stupid and let me tell you why in the comments" option...but only three people have commented, I feel cheated.
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GuidoVanHorn wrote:
5 people so far have selected the "I think your question is stupid and let me tell you why in the comments" option...but only three people have commented, I feel cheated.
RSP is a bunch of lazy contrarians. Are you really surprised?
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casey r lowe
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GuidoVanHorn wrote:
5 people so far have selected the "I think your question is stupid and let me tell you why in the comments" option...but only three people have commented, I feel cheated.
you should be glad nobody put any passive-aggressive tags on your thread yet in addition to passive-aggressively filling out your poll
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Mac Mcleod
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GuidoVanHorn wrote:
5 people so far have selected the "I think your question is stupid and let me tell you why in the comments" option...but only three people have commented, I feel cheated.
It's worse than you think.

I didn't fill out the poll!
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Guido Van Horn
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maxo-texas wrote:
GuidoVanHorn wrote:
5 people so far have selected the "I think your question is stupid and let me tell you why in the comments" option...but only three people have commented, I feel cheated.
It's worse than you think.

I didn't fill out the poll!
Damn you....
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Mike Stiles
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The series harry potter ripped off featured a girl, but that was back in the '80s,
 
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verandi wrote:
GuidoVanHorn wrote:
5 people so far have selected the "I think your question is stupid and let me tell you why in the comments" option...but only three people have commented, I feel cheated.
RSP is a bunch of lazy contrarians. Are you really surprised?
I think you're wrong but I don't feel like explaining.
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Guido Van Horn
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windsagio wrote:
The series harry potter ripped off featured a girl, but that was back in the '80s,
So the answer to the question is definitely no, not as popular, if Harry was a girl.
 
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Andy Beaton
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It is common knowledge in the children's writer's community that girls will read books with a male protagonist, but boys won't read books with a female protagonist.
Yes, it is contemptible.
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Lynette
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Please note she published as J.K. Rowling.

Woman writers will tell you they often use initials rather than first names BECAUSE it helps obscure gender.

Even though women buy more books overall, men still dominate the writing and reviewing literary world.

Once something is already popular that it was written by a women doesn't matter. But getting published and SOLD as a woman is a huge up front hurtle in any genre other than "Romance" or cooking, etc were the market is mainly perceived to be female dominated at the outset.





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Grace McDermott
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A Girl - Boys are the acceptable mainstream protagonist for children of all genders to read about. If Harry had been a girl, the series may have still been published, but it would be on the level of Tamora Pierce, or something like that - popular with girls, but not a phenomenon.

Minority boy - I'm assuming you mean a racial minority here? Again, nope, for the mainstream, a character has to be white to represent the "universal" experience. -_-

Minority girl - combine the issues of the above.

Written by a Man - as someone said above, JK was listed as JK to obscure her gender.

Set in America - funnily enough, I think not, as England (even though Hogwarts is in Scotland) is the place of maaaaagic, it makes more sense for it to be somewhere steeped in magic, rather than the NY College of Magic and Myth.
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Guido Van Horn
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Meerkat wrote:
Please note she published as J.K. Rowling.

Woman writers will tell you they often use initials rather than first names BECAUSE it helps obscure gender.

Even though women buy more books overall, men still dominate the writing and reviewing literary world.

Once something is already popular that it was written by a women doesn't matter. But getting published and SOLD as a woman is a huge up front hurtle in any genre other than "Romance" or cooking, etc were the market is mainly perceived to be female dominated at the outset.





I'm not sure on the veracity of the legend, but I've heard that the publisher asked/advised/told her to go with initials for this reason. It is certainly plausible in my mind.
 
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GuidoVanHorn wrote:

I'm not sure on the veracity of the legend, but I've heard that the publisher asked/advised/told her to go with initials for this reason. It is certainly plausible in my mind.
From wiki (there's a source): Anticipating that the target audience of young boys might not want to read a book written by a woman, her publishers asked that she use two initials rather than her full name.
 
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Guido Van Horn
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aiabx wrote:
It is common knowledge in the children's writer's community that girls will read books with a male protagonist, but boys won't read books with a female protagonist.
Yes, it is contemptible.
Last year I told my class about a book I was reading, In the Time of the Fireflies. The cover was purple with a girl on a dock dancing among fireflies.

There were a couple of boys that said, " that's a girl's book." I told them it was actually a pretty cool time travel story with a creepy doll and trying to lift a family curse that culminates in a fight against a the demon doll....yeah it is in the context of a little girl, but it was the best kids book I read last year.
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GuidoVanHorn wrote:

There were a couple of boys that said, " that's a girl's book." I told them it was actually a pretty cool time travel story with a creepy doll and trying to lift a family curse that culminates in a fight against a the demon doll....yeah it is in the context of a little girl, but it was the best kids book I read last year.
I read a lot of the blog posts that surround the We Need Diverse Books movement, and for younger boys especially, they tend to parrot what they've been heard, or what their parents - intentionally or unintentionally - put into their heads (like everything else at that age).

I remember this one article where a school had an author of a "girl's" book come, and teacher said something like "girls, you'll love this; boys, please stay still and pay attention anyway". -_-
 
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Guido Van Horn
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Ryinth wrote:
GuidoVanHorn wrote:

There were a couple of boys that said, " that's a girl's book." I told them it was actually a pretty cool time travel story with a creepy doll and trying to lift a family curse that culminates in a fight against a the demon doll....yeah it is in the context of a little girl, but it was the best kids book I read last year.
I read a lot of the blog posts that surround the We Need Diverse Books movement, and for younger boys especially, they tend to parrot what they've been heard, or what their parents - intentionally or unintentionally - put into their heads (like everything else at that age).

I remember this one article where a school had an author of a "girl's" book come, and teacher said something like "girls, you'll love this; boys, please stay still and pay attention anyway". -_-
I totally believe the idea behind these pushes to get kids to diversify...but the reality is that I'm primarily interested in them reading, and kids read better if the material interests them. So my tactic is to make a wide variety of books available and when possible appealing to a wide variety of kids. I think the book companies themselves need to do a better job of making covers more cross appealing. Eapecially books with girls as protagonists. I'm trying to think of the last female protag book I bought for my classroom that wasn't obviously geared toward stereotypical girly designs.
 
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GuidoVanHorn wrote:

I totally believe the idea behind these pushes to get kids to diversify...but the reality is that I'm primarily interested in them reading, and kids read better if the material interests them. So my tactic is to make a wide variety of books available and when possible appealing to a wide variety of kids. I think the book companies themselves need to do a better job of making covers more cross appealing. Eapecially books with girls as protagonists. I'm trying to think of the last female protag book I bought for my classroom that wasn't obviously geared toward stereotypical girly designs.
Have you tried the "blind date with a book" concept - where you wrap either the cover, or the entire book, in brown paper and then list the interesting points about it.

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Guido Van Horn
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Ryinth wrote:
GuidoVanHorn wrote:

I totally believe the idea behind these pushes to get kids to diversify...but the reality is that I'm primarily interested in them reading, and kids read better if the material interests them. So my tactic is to make a wide variety of books available and when possible appealing to a wide variety of kids. I think the book companies themselves need to do a better job of making covers more cross appealing. Eapecially books with girls as protagonists. I'm trying to think of the last female protag book I bought for my classroom that wasn't obviously geared toward stereotypical girly designs.
Have you tried the "blind date with a book" concept - where you wrap either the cover, or the entire book, in brown paper and then list the interesting points about it.

That's a great idea, I'll have to put it on the idea board.
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Kinda disagree...

Harry Potter was a phenomenon.

Lots of books are written for children with female protagonists and male protagonists which never succeed to the degree that harry potter did.

I had no problem reading and enjoying with Nancy Drew mysteries even 40 years ago.

I do agree I wouldn't self identify with a girl as a girl when I was a boy but gender doesn't really come up that much unless the author goes out of their way. But I don't really self identify with a boy when I'm an older man. I had more in common with dumbledore than I did with potter. Or perhaps Snape.

But Harry Potter was really a black swan event. It might have succeeded as well with Hermione Potter.

(could say the same for twilight, hunger games, etc. etc. So few books make it big.)
 
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GuidoVanHorn wrote:
5 people so far have selected the "I think your question is stupid and let me tell you why in the comments" option...but only three people have commented, I feel cheated.
As a person who runs occasional polls here I think this option is the most interesting part. In fact, and I may be giving this far too much credit, I suspect it is the main reason you created the "poll" and are using Harry Potter as a clever slight-of-hand trick to psychoanalyze RSPrs. If so, YOU SIR are fucking brilliant.
 
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maxo-texas wrote:
Kinda disagree...

Harry Potter was a phenomenon.

Lots of books are written for children with female protagonists and male protagonists which never succeed to the degree that harry potter did.

I had no problem reading and enjoying with Nancy Drew mysteries even 40 years ago.

I do agree I wouldn't self identify with a girl as a girl when I was a boy but gender doesn't really come up that much unless the author goes out of their way. But I don't really self identify with a boy when I'm an older man.

Well that's true to an extent. However there are people who are not as flexible. I've heard reports of men putting down one of Chris Moriarty's book (not YA) when they found out she was a female Chris and not a male Chris. I have seen men who will not read a book where the protag is female.

Is it a significant part of the market? I don't really know.

On to Potter itself.

It was a big success in the UK before it was published in the US. So exoticism of the country is not really an issue, although it could have helped when it was published in the US - but other books similarly have a British setting but do not do well in the US. The US rights went for a relative fortune for a little-known children's writer so obviously the publisher gave it a huge marketing push which most children's/YA books didn't get (up to that point).

The Northern Lights (The Golden Compass in the US) by Pullman was also pretty successful a few years before Potter with boys and girls. Although aimed at a slightly higher age-level the protagonist in that is a girl. Also in some cases where the author is known to the reader that can overcome the gender of the protagonist - for example Neil Gaiman and Coraline, Terry Pratchett and the Tiffany Aching books.

Without any direct experience I think that strong readers who are boys will read a book with a female protag (or written by a woman) if there are enough clues it is going to be the sort of book they enjoy - strong on adventure, mystery, weird stuff. Boys who are weak readers will be looking for anything that may put them off and 'any excuse will do'.




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