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JK Rowling’s book sales are dwindling behind an industry-wide surge amid rampant transphobia row

Josh Milton July 17, 2020
British author and screenwriter JK Rowling

British author and screenwriter JK Rowling. (TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty)

While publishing amid the coronavirus pandemic has seen sales rocket, JK Rowling books have vastly slumped in the US.

Coincidentally, Rowling, 54, has also been increasingly vocal on her, LGBT+ activists say, barbed and toxic views on trans people.

The author behind one of the world’s most successful fiction series, Harry Potter, was the exception to the industry-wide growth that American publishing has seen, Variety reported.

Analysts said that Rowling’s sales were, for the rest of the year, at an upswing but suddenly slowed in the month of June – just as she launched into an anti-trans Twitter tirade.

JK Rowling’s book sales ‘underperforming’, analyst says, amid transphobia row.

Publishing monitor NPD BookScan found that Rowling has lagged behind other authors in terms of sales. Last month, fiction print books sales rose by 31.4 per cent compared to May.

Fiction titles in adult, young adult and juvenile sectors are all seeing similar double-digit growth. Yet Rowling’s books – often marketed towards younger audiences – rose by a tepid 10.9 per cent.

Harry Potter titles rose even less. With just a 7.7 per cent increase which even includes licensed titles not authored by Rowling.

As much as NPD BookScan’s data does not include other points of sale, such as eBooks, they, nevertheless, show a pointed and abrupt drop in Rowling’s sales in June.

“Looking at [Rowling’s] performance against the rest of the market, especially as benchmarked against her performance in 2019 – which was very consistent with the rest of the market – I think she’s down,” Kristen McLean, analyst and executive director of business development at the NPD Group said.

“She’s certainly underperforming the rest of the market, comparatively, by two thirds.”

McLean suggested that parents and guardians scrambling to buy books to keep children occupied during lockdown could explain the increase in the first half of 2020 compared to 2019 of Rowling’s work. She declined to speculate on why sales have stalled in June, however.

JK Rowling has increasingly spoken out on trans rights. Her fans aren’t sure how to handle it.

It’s all come after the month of June – and increasingly July – proved a flashpoint for the author’s reputation.

For years, fans of the beloved British author have sought to give JK Rowling the benefit of the doubt. The odd liked tweets. The following dubiously anti-trans accounts. All “middle-aged moments“, her representatives soothingly said.

Rowling has steadily risen from her stoop-sitting approach to trans rights – occasional comments and vague gestures – to full-on commentator on trans healthcare and rights.

She had outlined her views on trans people extensively across various Twitter threads and blog posts, plunging her LGBT+ fans into unease as the writer of a book series people have loved for the last 23 years unleashes anti-trans tirades.

Her comments have prompted the holy trinity of the series’ film adaptations – Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint – to come out swinging for trans rights.

And as more Harry Potter fans begin to denounce Rowling and the 54-year-old’s own publishing house begins to distance itself from her, it seems fans have responded to Rowling by vandalising the Royal Mile handprints along Edinburgh’s 253 High Street.

It comes after Rowling, who has no formal education or training in healthcare, compared the denounced practice of conversion therapy to the steadily eroded access trans youth have to healthcare, which became a lightning rod for criticism.

More: anti-trans, Harry Potter, JK Rowling, publishing, Sales, Trans, trans rights, transphobia

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