New Video Interview with Arthur Levine
November 19, 2008, 05:10 PM
Scholastic, the US publishers of the Harry Potter novels, have posted a new video online featuring a question and answer session with Arthur Levine. This is a short video, called "Meet Arthur," where the US editor of the Harry Potter books describes his job at Scholastic, and what he looks for when seeking out new material to publish.
Woah. That was really interesting. Not very surprising, after reading about him HaH, but it was a real treat to get to hear him talk about “books that I love”. Oh, and hey, first post, again!
Also, I am in love with that background/wall. I really hope that’s a real wall. I want one.
And doesn’t it also say in HaH that what Arthur spent on HP1 was the MOST money anyone had ever paid for a children’s book at that time? And at a time when fantasy and children’s books weren’t all that popular? Given that, you can’t blame him for trying to make the title appeal to the widest audience possible — and if you give kids a choice between reading about a philosopher or a sorcerer, 95% of them are going to pick the sorcerer. (Heck, the same is probably true with adults.) It’s easy to criticize in retrospect, but the series might never have become so big without “Sorcerer.”
Um, yeah, we knew that he was in charge of the change for awhile, but remember, as it also say in HaH, no one really thought (or at least admits to thinking) that HP would be this big. They knew they loved it, and were sure others would love it, but you must remember, that it was a long book in the wrong genre for the time. And really, honestly, before Harry Potter, had you heard of a “philosopher’s stone”? Did you think “philosophy” could refer to anything like magic or alchemy?
And even if you did, do you the the average American, or American child, for that matter, would have? And just because the book did well in Britain didn’t mean it would do well in America. Sure, it had won awards and had good reviews and stuff, but the average 10 year old doesn’t care about that. They do tend judge books by their covers and titles.
Heck, I know I did. I didn’t want to read HP at first, because the cover of CoS had lots of pink and reds, so I thought it was a girl’s book. And I think I might have been more reluctant to read the first book, if it had philosophy in the title. Of course, now, I read philosophy books for fun every now and then, but, despite how much adults liked HP, Scholastic was still (and is till) focusing primarily on children as the primary audience.
So, it’s too bad that Philosopher got changed to Sorcerer, but I think the problem is more in the fact that Britain and America are two different cultures, that think about things, such as words, differently, than just a random bad decision by the scholastic publisher.
Oh, and at least it’s not as bad as “School of Magic”.
Hmmm…. I just thought of something interesting. If they had called the U.S. Editions “Harry Potter and the School of Magic”, do you think they would have changed “Philosopher” to “Sorcerer” in the text? Because once you have the kids reading the book, they’ll figure out that it’s about magic, and just accept whatever name you give to something.