Harry Potter Lexicon In Stores Now: Does Anybody Care?
Last week the Steve Vander Ark finally saw his Harry Potter Lexicon hit bookstore shelves. Yes, the one that is based on the Harry Potter Lexicon website. And yes, it is the book that J.K. Rowling sued Vander Ark over and won. So how did it make its way to shelves? Good question.
The simple answer is that it's not the exact same book that Rowling sued. Rowling originally sued Vander Ark because she felt that it borrowed too heavily from her own works. Yes, she knew it was online and admitted to even using it herself. But when it came time to publish the book it seemed that she did thoroughly approve of it. The trial was about what constituted "fair-use" and whether or not Vander Ark contributed enough commentary. The answer was not.
This is what Nancy Prager had to say about the judges ruling on that point.
Here, the judge paid particular attention to the transformative nature of the use of the Harry Potter materials. He found that the primary purpose of the use of the works was not to “add some new insight, of whatever value,” to Harry Potter. Additionally, the use was not consistently transformative as Vander Ark “often lack[ed] restraint in using Rowling’s original expression for its inherent entertainment and aesthetic values.”
So after filing, and then dropping, an appeal Vander Ark and his publishers went back to the writing board and well, wrote. Instead of just cherry picking tidbits of information from the Harry Potter series Vander Ark wrote the book in accordance with the ruling laid out by Judge Patterson.
During the proceedings people were up in arms on both sides. To people on the outside of the Harry Potter fan base it must have looked a little nuts. But when you see a story like the one about Hannah's "I open at the close" tattoo you realize it's not just about the books, it's about what they mean to people.
When the 7th book came out, and I read the part about Dumbledore, my mom’s favorite character (and one of my own haha), leaving Harry the snitch in his will, and the message left on it, I knew that this was something special. It always kind of toyed around with it in the back of my head. So then I went for it, and got it, and I love it. It reminds me of my mom, and Harry Potter, and the things she didn’t get to read, but I know she would have loved.
Now that the book has been released the blogosphere is oddly quiet. YA Bookaholic has been waiting for it but hasn't read it yet. The reviews on Amazon are positive. No one seems to be rushing out to buy it or to see what kind of insight Vander Ark has to offer. Somehow I have a hunch that this just isn't making the splash that Vander Ark and his publishers were hoping for.