Harry Potter and the pointless reviews (fear not, no spoilers here)

I don’t understand reviews of the latest Harry Potter book. Why publish them now, as the book comes out?

Here’s the reason for my confusion. Either you’re going to read the book, in which case you won’t want to read a review first; you’ll want to read it yourself, because you can’t leap into book seven of a seven-book series; and if you’ve read the other six books, you know how you want the seventh to turn out, and that’s a personal thing which will be different for every person.

Or else you’re not going to read the book, in which case you’re likely not interested in the review.

But people – well, editors – feel that they have to have a review that’s the first and so on, because.. well, that’s what newspapers and media do, isn’t it?

In which case a review isn’t going to do anything for you, plus or minus. Once I’ve read the book, then OK, I might put my thoughts about it here for everyone to ignore. But a review, before anyone else has had the chance to read it? When everyone wants to read it? Makes no sense.

I mean, I’m still mulling over the ending of the final series of the Sopranos. Don’t get me started on that. It’s going to take ages for all the folk here in Britain to catch up on that one.


  1. It’s to sway the fence-sitters. Not the people who are buying it or who won’t buy it but for the people who might buy it. And if they’ve bought earlier books and then stopped or never bought one, then the review makes sense because they might buy the extra large gift box set.

    Otherwise….why review anything ever?

    And why now? Because the sell through figures for the opening weekend or the first month are important for the marketing engines. So the reviews need to get people in the doors the moment the book is release

  2. Jeez, Charles, isn’t it obvious? If the book isn’t reviewed everywhere, people might not realize how important it is! And no newspaper wants to be left out of the Publishing Phenomenon.

    That said, I’m not much of a Harry Potter fancier. I do think a lot of things in the books are very clever. But I skipped straighg to the Wikipedia summary when I realized that other than the ending I can’t remember a thing about #6.


  3. Oh, come on. On the day of the release, there’s probably a reasonable number of people who’ll be persuaded to buy a paper by the words ‘harry potter review’ in big chunky blue text on the front page. That’s all any editor needs to know – the actual content of the review is almost irrelevant.

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