Where to read Harry Potter for fun
July 11th, 2007

There is a story on the front page of the New York Times today that examines whether the Harry Potter craze has gotten kids in the habit of reading for fun:

Of all the magical powers wielded by Harry Potter, perhaps none has cast a stronger spell than his supposed ability to transform the reading habits of young people. In what has become near mythology about the wildly popular series by J. K. Rowling, many parents, teachers, librarians and booksellers have credited it with inspiring a generation of kids to read for pleasure in a world dominated by instant messaging and music downloads. . . . But some researchers and educators say that the series, in the end, has not permanently tempted children to put down their Game Boys and curl up with a book instead.

The following is from a recent Economist article about novels delivered to handsets in Japan — the very devices that the NY Times article names as distracting kids from reading. The Hogwarts generation might well do more reading if we made it possible for them to curl up with a book on the screen of a keitai:

WITH sales of books in decline, a new market has come as a godsend to Japan’s publishing companies. Sales of mobile-phone novels–books that you download and read, usually in instalments, on the screen of your keitai, or mobile phone–have jumped from nothing five years ago to over Â¥10 billion ($82m) a year today and are still growing fast. . . .
Yet with the market growing fast, new entrants are piling in, forcing publishers to find new spin-offs for keitai novels. Ironically, some have gone on to do well in print. Yoshi, the most successful keitai author, turned his most popular novel, ‘Deep Love’, about teenage prostitution, into a book that has sold 2.7m copies–as well as a film, a television series and a manga comic.

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