Volume I, Issue 3 -- August, 2000
Harry who ?
Why the complete review didn't review
the latest Harry Potter book
The Literary Saloon famously boasts of "trying to meet all you book preview, review, and information needs", and yet this same venerable institution seems to have completely ignored the biggest publishing event of the year. The complete review ? You must be joking !
On 8 July, 2000 hordes descended on bookstores in Great Britain, the US, even Australia -- desperate to get their hands on the eagerly anticipated tome, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth in J.K.Rowling's seven-book series. Hundreds of thousands of copies were ordered over the internet, millions have been sold in bookstores. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a bestseller that has smashed all previous records. A large segment of the population spent a sleepless weekend reading the massive book, and reviews poured forth.
Yet the complete review offers nothing -- there is nary a mention of Harry Potter on the site, and no reviews of HP & the GoF or Rowling's earlier titles. What can explain the complete review's silence on the book of the year .... the decade ... hell, possibly the millennium (so the impression one gets from the impact it seems to have made) ?
The editors of the complete review were not particularly forthcoming (they can be a sullen lot), but they did offer a baker's (book-reviewer's ?) dozen reasons why there is no review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire available on the site:
- Harry who ?
- We were busy reviewing books by Eneriko Seruma and Dubravka Ugresic.
- By 30 July, 2000 there were 2478 (!) customer reviews available at Amazon.com (and 184 at Amazon.co.uk). If there had only been 2000 or so reviews at Amazon.com we might have felt obligated to add our two cents worth (the actual estimated value of a complete review review), but 2478 other reviews is just too much competition.
- Our kids took our copies of the book and won't let us review them for fear that we might have an unkind word to say about holy Harry.
- Review a book that actually makes it onto a bestseller list ? That's beneath us !
- We're still so upset that the American editions are "translated" into Basic American English (most notoriously with the title of volume one, where Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone bizarrely metamorphosed into Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) that we can't review these books. If the publishers (and the author who acquiesces) show so little respect for the work then how can we have any respect for it ?
- Since review copies were not made available to accredited reviewers (or hacks like us) we stood on line all night, waiting for the midnight 8 July publication -- but they were sold out by the time we got to the counter.
- We did post a review, but some nine-year old hackers hijacked our site and axed the review, leaving a LONG LIVE HARRY ! banner in its place (which would have been fine, except that it was one of those blinking rotating banners that are beyond merely annoying, so we had to get rid of it as well).
- A publishing figure (who shall remain unnamed) approached us and offered us a considerable sum of money in exchange for a favourable review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, figuring that without a glowing review in the complete review the book didn't stand a chance in hell of doing well. We were going to review the book anyway, but we do not accept money for reviews and felt that our review would inevitably be compromised by the mere taint of a bribe having been offered. We therefore withdrew our review. (The publishing figure, obviously not an astute industry insider, has apparently also moved on to pursue a new career.)
- Everybody has already bought the book and read the book and couldn't possibly care less what we think of the book.
- Everybody and then some have already reviewed the book, and it would just look like we're jumping on the bandwagon. We're leaders, not followers.
- The book has over 600 pages (over 700 if you're in America, since the publishers ("Scholastic" -- yeah, right) apparently believe you can't read small print) -- you can't expect us to read and then review books that are that long.
- We'll get around to it when it's out of print. Anybody can review books that are in print .....
Excuses, excuses, right ? Well, maybe they really can't review everything that is out there, but surely the public is clamouring to know what the complete review's verdict would have been. It might even have had an impact on sales ... well, maybe only the same impact the complete review's reviews usually have (i.e. not a whole lot).
Ever (well, at least in this instance) helpful, the editors at the complete review did provide what the complete review provides best -- links ! No review summaries here, but at least a couple of reviews of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for those who haven't gotten enough yet:
And for those who haven't got their copy yet, you can buy them via these links:
- A useful assessment of the critical reaction, from BooksUnlimited
- The Independent
- New York
- The Observer
- USA Today (a -- gasp ! -- negative review)
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