If Margaret Mitchell had written "Gone With the Wind" in the Internet age, would she have caved to reader pressure and reunited Scarlett and Rhett?
I ask, because an Internet campaign is currently underway to save Harry Potter, and author J.K. Rowling reportedly is starting to weaken at the knees prior to the scheduled July 21st release of the seventh and final novel.
Rowling, as any Potter fan (or anyone who reads) can tell you, has said repeatedly that after 17 years of spinning tales about a boy wizard and his friends, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" is absolutely the last novel she will write in the Potter series.
The British bookstore chain Waterstone's, which is behind the "Save Harry" movement, says on its website that "if Sherlock Holmes, Dennis Watts, Superman and Bobby Ewing can all come back from the dead, then surely reincarnation shouldn't be a problem for the world's most powerful boy wizard."
According to Reuters, thousands have signed a petition at saveharrypotter.co.uk., urging Rowling to reverse her decision to end the Potter series with "Deathly Hallows." The campaign started after Rowling tantalizingly told a BBC interviewer over the weekend that "I have always said I wouldn't say never. In 10 years time, I might want to return to it."
Internet fan sites are increasingly being treated like focus groups by film makers, game developers and others who have discovered that instant access to feedback from their audience pays off in the long run. The most recent example of this is the summer blockbuster "Transformers."
Four years ago, one of the producers of "Transformers," Don Murphy, turned a forum on his personal web site into what The NYTimes called "a rolling conversation" about the upcoming movie. Murphy told The Times that the fans actually had some influence in script changes, design and casting.
However, it doesn't always work out so well. Remember the Internet-driven-movie-flop Snakes on a Plane?
Back to Harry Potter, though. It hardly matters what the result of the petition campaign will be, whether Harry dies in the end of "Deathly Hallows," or if Rowling's "never say never" interview was just a bit of p.r. wizardry prior to the book's release.
As British book blogger Jean Hannah Edelstein points out in today's Guardian Unlimited, the crusade to save Harry Potter was not started by the book's 8 to 11 year old fan base, but rather "by your friendly neighbourhood bookselling behemoth, Waterstone's," which will sorely miss the guaranteed profits from a Harry Potter 8, 9 and 10.
One-point-six million copies of "Deathly Hallows" have been pre-ordered online. Scholastic plans a record-setting print run of 12 million copies. And millions of movie-goers are priming themselves for the final book by jamming theaters worldwide to see the fifth film in the series, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," despite not-so-good reviews like this one from The SFChronicle's Mick LaSalle.
To the book and film industry, Harry Potter means $$$. But to the rest of us, he'll find his place with other children's classics including Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia and Charlotte's Web. Because like Alice, Charlotte and Wilbur before him, Harry Potter exists in our hearts and minds - where he'll remain for generations to come.
However, I don't blame Rowling for keeping her options open. "After all," as Scarlett memorably says, "tomorrow is another day...."
Will Rowling write another Harry Potter book? Does Harry die in the end of "Deathly Hallows?" Does any of this change the way you feel about the books? Click below on "Comments" and join the speculation!
So if you have a minute why don't we go,
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
This could be the end of everything.
So why don't we go, somewhere only we know,
Somewhere only we know.