I just came across this early interview with J.K. Rowling (probably from late 1998 or early 1999). She's sitting in the now famous Edinburgh House cafe in Edinburgh where she wrote the early Harry Potter books. She looks, frankly, exhausted, but hugely excited to have sold 30,000 copies of her first two books - especially as her agent told her, "there's not much money in children's books." She goes on to say that she's always wanted to write but "my realistic side had not allowed me to dream about half of what has happened to me," - this in reference to her agent selling the first two Harry Potter books to eight countries so, as she says with huge excitement, "it will be translated in France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy and Finland ... I love the idea of saying I'm big in Finland!"
Fast forward a decade or so, and the series has sold well over 400 million copies, has won countless prizes and been translated into at least 67 languages including Arabic, Urdu, Welsh, Latin and Ancient Greek (apparently making it the longest published work in Ancient Greek since the novels of Heliodorus of Emesa in the 3rd century AD). Demand for Harry Potter books in the USA has been so great that the New York Times had to create a separate bestseller list for children's books in 2000 and it took 9,000 Fedex trucks to deliver the first copies of The Goblet of Fire. Then, of course, there are the spin offs into games, movies and even a theme park - not to mention the huge boost given to children's book publishing as a whole, and the millions of children who got turned on to reading by Harry Potter. Even little old BookBrowse was effected. When we first posted our biography of J.K. Rowling, back in 1999, it was, to the best of my knowledge, the most comprehensive single source of information available - and, for a time, views of that one page represented about 15% of our total traffic!
Today, hundreds of millions have enjoyed Rowling's books, many of whom did not consider themselves 'readers' until discovering Harry Potter; thousands are employed in jobs relating to the books and, J.K. Rowling has definitely achieved her ambition of being "big in Finland"!
Here's the full video. What part did you enjoy most? Click here to comment, or just under the video...