Today’s been something of a red letter day for the book trade with the publication of JK Rowling’s long-awaited first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy.
Having raised critics’ eyebrows with its unflinching descriptions of sex, suicide and docker-worthy swearing, The Casual Vacancy is nevertheless expected to be one of the year’s biggest-selling books and a novel which will add millions to the Harry Potter author’s already swollen coffers.
During the course of her remarkable career Rowling’s not only written the best-selling book series of all time, she’s also been responsible for the highest-grossing film franchise ever made and improved thousands of lives around the globe by donating some of her substantial fortune to charity.
But before you rush off to your local bookseller to pick up a copy of The Casual Vacancy, come with us on a statistical sojourn through JK Rowling’s life and career…
1… poorly-received biopic In 2011 US broadcaster Lifetime annoyed numerous Rowling fans with the airing of Magic Beyond Words: the JK Rowling Story, which starred Without a Trace’s Poppy Montgomery as the author. One critic summed the film up as “a casserole of crap British accents and sentimentality, covered with cheese.”
3… spin-off books Besides the main series, Rowling’s published three supplementary tomes about the Harry Potter universe: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Throughout the Ages and The Tales of Beedle the Bard. She’s also currently working on an encyclopedia about the series and will donate the profits from that book, once it’s published, to charity.
11… video games Along with eight films based on the seven original books, there have been 11 Harry Potter video games released since 2001, including two Lego Potter titles.
13… Russian rip-offs Read all the Potter books and after more wizarding fun? Then simply learn Russian and dip in to the Tanya Grotter series! There are 13 of them in all, with brilliant titles like Tanya Grotter and the Pince-nez of Noah, though they aren’t available in English as they’re (rather blatantly) all in breach of copyright in the West.
15… years Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first published a decade-and-a-half ago, in 1997. First editions from its print run of 1,000 books now change hands for up to £25,000.
70… students When Durham University began offering a class entitled Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion in 2010, seventy students signed up for the UK’s first academic course about Rowling’s writing.
18,000… extra words Pottermore, the website launched in April for Harry Potter fans, featured an extensive amount of new background material on the series’ characters written by Rowling for users to enjoy.
21,947… Facebook fans Rowling’s received just shy of 22,000 “likes” on the social network (at the time of writing), while the Harry Potter page has clocked up over 50 million.
1,000,000…pre-orders It was revealed earlier this month that pre-orders and reservations of The Casual Vacancy had topped the million mark, making the novel a bestseller long before it hit the shelves.
1,461,107…Twitter followers Since signing up to the microblogging site in 2009, Rowling has amassed a following of almost one-and-a-half million fellow tweeters. Her post this morning which read “I am delighted that my new novel for adults is published today” was retweeted more than 11,000 times.
450,000,000… books sold As of June 2011 the Harry Potter series had shifted 450 million copies around the world, and the books are still selling like enchanted hot-cakes today…
1,000,000,000… dollars Roughly the amount Rowling is worth, according to Forbes magazine, which praised her for having had the foresight to hold on to the Harry Potter ebook rights – a decision which netted her over $1m in the first three days of the books’ digital editions going on sale.