For most fans of the series, Harry Potter is not just a book but a cultural framing agent of an entire generation. With the first book published in 1997 and the last movie out in 2011, this phenomenon has been around for almost 14 years. The books have sold 250 million copies, resulting in JK Rowling being the first billionaire author. Even the movies were a smashing box office success each time a new one was out. But what is it which ultimately led to Harry Potter to break all records?
Firstly, I believe that the setting of the novel into a world of unknown, of mystery solidly added to its appeal. Witches and wizards, dark magic are realms which appeal to most readers. Also, this setting uses the classes good vs. evil approach. Hence, the reader is assuaged to the fact that ultimately there will triumph of good over evil. There is a completely parallel world full of elves, talking portraits, moving staircases which enamours the reader. The power of the wand, teleporting have a have a very surrealistic appeal to it.
Secondly, it is the characters. Seeing a 11 year old boy being fed cold soup through a doggy door invokes pity in the reader. The very same boy is then holding the torch of goodness and leading the magical world to its former glory. The characters are very real and have grown up with most of the readers. Everyone has had a Hermoine around them, a nerd but with strong powers rationality and intellectualism. And there is also a Draco Malfoy, stuck between the shards of wrong and right. The readers are developing right along with the characters. The characters face the same problems of willpower, importance of study, fidelity, loyalty, friendship, love, independence. The readers have laughed, cried and have changed reading and watching the series.
Thirdly, the marketing gimmicks in lieu of Harry Potter tremendously led to its popularity. Magical wands, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavoured Bean, Chocolate Frogs, love potions have added to its splendour. These gimmicks have bought fans of the series closer to it-albeit in an economic fashion. Not only good marketing, but such is the hold of Harry Potter over its fans, there are countless fan websites dedicated to the series and 10000+ pages on Wikipedia.
A lot of Harry Potter’s success also lies in it being published at the perfect time. It is a series which is meant for both children and adults. The series has always been accredited with bringing back the joys of reading which had been receding in children. Hence I believe the Harry Potter series has been a phenomenal success for these reasons. It has entered the hearts of people and also the history of literature and cinema!