Harry Potter prequel sets new record

THE COMMERCIAL wizardry of Harry Potter has conquered new territory with a fillip to a type of book which often keeps publishers and their accountants awake at night - a collection of short stories.

By (Guardian)

Published: Sun 10 Aug 2008, 9:32 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 2:50 PM

Notorious for selling fewer than writers' full-length novels, the genre has set a new record with What's Your Story?, thanks to an 800-word contribution from JK Rowling.

Using her now well-honed ability to tantalise, the world's richest author joined other writers such as the Nobel laureate Doris Lessing with an unusual offering.

Rather than a self-contained tale, she said, it was a section of narrative "from a prequel I am not working on."

The collection sold all but a handful of its 10,000 print run on the first day of issue, on Thursday, when it was released by Waterstones bookshop to mark the National Year of Reading. Customers were allowed a maximum of two copies each.

The Rowling story is set in the 1970s and appears to be part of a background scene-setter for the celebrated sequence of seven books about the boy wizard and Hogwarts school. In it, Potter's father James and his friend Sirius Black travel around together on a magic motorbike.

The collection, sold for GBP5 a copy in aid of Dyslexia Action and English PEN, also includes stories by 12 other well-known authors, including Margaret Atwood, Sir Tom Stoppard and Irvine Welsh. Less familiar is eight-year-old Tahir Naseem, whose micro-story Boy the Boxer was one of three winners of a national competition to be included in the book.

Four postcard-sized stories by winners of a similar competition for booksellers complete the collection. Waterstones said that the book would not be reprinted, which will make copies a collector's item.

More news from
How the arts can benefit your mental health


How the arts can benefit your mental health

The notion that art can improve mental well-being is something many people intuitively understand but can lose sight of — especially if we have become disconnected from the dancing, creative writing, drawing and singing we used to enjoy as children