New Looks for Harry Potter Books?

In honor of 15 years since first being published, the Harry Potter books are getting new illustrations on their covers in the U.S.

First of all, I cannot believe it’s been 15 years since Sorcerer’s Stone was published. That makes me feel super old.

The new cover (courtesy USATODAY)

Secondly, I don’t know how I feel about new covers for my all-time favorite book series. I grew up with those covers and LOVE them. Some people thought they were no good, but I appreciated the artistry and relative ambiguity of the covers. Besides, doesn’t the old saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” apply here? Regardless of what you thought about the cover, it doesn’t take away from the supreme awesomeness that is the book inside.

USAToday talked to Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic Trade Publishing, and she said:

“We thought it was time for a fresh approach” for the trade paperbacks “as of a way of attracting the interest of a new generation of 8- and 9-year-olds who may know Harry mostly through the movies.”

I mean, she’s got a point there. We all know the importance of a good cover to market a book, old adages aside. I can see how the new cover (pictured above) is more visually attractive to today’s kids. It’s true that some kids can probably identify at least Harry and Hagrid off the cover without even having read the book, just based off of the movies, media, etc. In fact, I’d venture to guess that most of today’s kids know the storyline without having read the books, thanks to the movies.

Maybe I’m just becoming one of those fussy old anti-change folks, but at least the hardbacks are sticking with Mary GrandPre’s illustrations for now.

What do you think? New covers totally warranted? Or is it all just a ploy by Scholastic to re-energize the series and make people re-purchase the books?

Getting Started

During one of many long internet surfing sessions, I discovered this blog by author K.M. Weiland. I love it! She’s “helping writers become authors” with tons and tons of blog posts about various elements of writing. In keeping with the theme of beginnings, I wanted to share this gem from Weiland’s blog about writing good opening lines that will hook readers and make them keep reading.

The entire post can be found at http://wordplay-kmweiland.blogspot.com/2011/09/5-elements-of-riveting-first-line.html, but here’s an excerpt:

“The opening line of your book is your first (and, if you don’t take advantage of it, last) opportunity to grab your reader’s attention and give him a reason to read your story. That’s a gargantuan job for a single sentence. But if we break down opening lines, we discover a number of interesting things. One of the most surprising discoveries is that very few opening lines are memorable.”

At first, I thought, “What?” But Weiland goes on to ask the reader to recall the opening lines of the last five books you’ve read, and she’s right. Even my very top favorites, like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series or any of Emily Giffin’s novels, aren’t engraved in my memory!

The opening sentence, a notorious labor for many of us, really isn’t all that memorable to those who will eventually read our work! Check out Weiland’s post for her “5 Elements of Riveting First Lines” and stop fretting over those first sentences!