Harry Potter helps fuel UK online reselling boom

Harry Potter is one of the major contributing factors that has helped fuel a boom in online sales of second-hand books.

Sales at online “resellers” like MusicMagpie have jumped more than 22% in the UK last year, taking their earnings to over £120min. The sale of second-hand books alone has increased by 75% over the last year.

In the run up to Christmas, and with the UK subjected to its second lockdown of the year, second-hand book sales were booming and they were dominated by one series, Harry Potter.

MusicMagpie and other such companies have benefited massively from the closure of charity shops across the country. Combine that with more people needing money thanks to the nationwide lockdown and you have the perfect environment for second-hand resellers.

“Consumer attitudes towards buying refurbished products are changing, and there’s also an ongoing move towards ethical spending and tackling the growing problem of e-waste,” said Steve Oliver, the chief executive of MusicMagpie.

With the sale of second-hand books rising exponentially it also shows a clear trend back towards reading for so many people over this uncertain time.

Top-selling books in Nov-Dec 2020

  • This is Going to Hurt – by Adam Kay
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – by JK Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – by JK Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – by JK Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – by JK Rowling

JK Rowling returns award after Kerry Kennedy criticism

JK Rowling has decided she will be giving back an award associated with the US Kennedy family, this comes after the author’s faced continuing criticism for her views on gender and trans issues.

Rowling was given the Ripple of Hope honour by the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights organisation last year.

However, earlier this month, the foundations president, Kerry Kennedy, said views expressed by the author “diminished the identity” of trans people.

Rowling released a statement in response to this which says that Kennedy’s implication that she is transphobic is “incorrect”.

But what’s this argument all about?

Back in June the Harry Potter author first sparked controversy by posting tweets that took issue with the phrase “people who menstruate”.

Rowling didn’t like the avoidance of using the word “women”.

During a lengthy blog post, Rowling said her interest in trans issues has derived from being a survivor of abuse and her concerns around single-sex spaces.

“I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them,” she wrote. “At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.”

Several stars from the Harry Potter film universe quickly distanced themselves from her comments, including Eddie Redmayne, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson.

In response earlier this month Kennedy posted a statement, which read: “I have spoken with JK Rowling to express my profound disappointment that she has chosen to use her remarkable gifts to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and non-binary people, undermining the validity and integrity of the entire transgender community.

“One that disproportionately suffers from violence, discrimination, harassment, and exclusion and, as a result, experiences high rates of suicide, suicide attempts, homelessness, and mental and bodily harm.

Black trans women and trans youth in particular are targeted.”

She has also said that the foundation has rejected Rowling’s view that an individuals gender is the one they are assigned at birth.

“From her own words, I take Rowling’s position to be that the sex one is assigned at birth is the primary and determinative factor of one’s gender, regardless of one’s gender identity – a position that I categorically reject.”

Rowling published her own statement in response within which she says she disagrees that “there is no conflict between the current radical trans rights movement and the rights of women”.

She also says that “thousands of women” had got in touch with her to show their support and called for a more nuanced debate.

“Clinicians, academics, therapists, teachers, social workers, and staff at prisons and women’s refuges have also contacted me,” she continued.

“These professionals, some at the very top of their organisations, have expressed serious concerns about the impact of gender identity theory on vulnerable adolescents and on women’s rights, and of the dismantling of safeguarding norms which protect the most vulnerable women.

“None of them hate trans people.”

She went on to explain why she’s returning the award: “I am deeply saddened that RFKHR [Robert F Kennedy Human Rights] has felt compelled to adopt this stance, but no award or honour, no matter my admiration for the person for whom it was named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscience.”

After this statement Rowling began to receive support online with the hashtag #IStandWithJKRowling trending on social media.

Rowling joins Rushdie and Atwood to warn against ‘intolerance’

JK Rowling has joined Salman Rushdie has signed a controversial open letter condemning “an intolerance of imposing views.”

JK Rowling, Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie are just a few of the well known signatories to a controversial open letter warning against the spread of “censoriousness” which they say is leading to “an intolerance of opposing views” and “a vogue for public shaming and ostracism”.

Rowling, whose article detailing her personal beliefs on transgender rights has recently seen large numbers of Harry Potter fans distance themselves from her, said she was “proud to sign this letter in defence of a foundational principle of a liberal society: open debate and freedom of thought and speech”.

Rowling has faced pressure from Trans activists recently over her controversial comments

The letter is signed by more than 150 writers, academics and artists, including other such notable figures as Gloria Steinem, Steven Pinker and Malcolm Gladwell.

The letter acknowledges that “powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society”, before it goes on to attack what it describes as “a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favour of ideological conformity”.

The writer Thomas Chatterton Williams is the hand behind the letter and has used it to hit out at how a “panicked damage control” is able to lead to the delivery of “hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms.”

He also critiques how “editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged in-authenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organisations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes”.

“Donald Trump is the Canceler in Chief,” Williams told the NYT. “But the correction of Trump’s abuses cannot become an over-correction that stifles the principles we believe in.”

The letter concludes with all signatories asserting that “the way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away”.

Of course the letter has faced its fair share of criticism online. “As is usually the case for people who manifest in favor of free and open debate and against repression, several of the people on this @Harpers Open Letter have behavior in their past that reflects the censorious mentality they’re condemning here,” tweeted the author Glenn Greenwald.

Harry Potter fan sites cut ties with JK Rowling over transgender rights

Two of the largest Harry Potter fan sites have made moves to distance themselves from the characters creator JK Rowling.

Two of the largest Harry Potter fan sites have made moves to distance themselves from the characters creator JK Rowling due to the recent remarks she made about transgender rights. The sites have said her personal views are at odds with the messages of empowerment found in her best-selling novels.

The two websites, the Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet said on Thursday that their sites would no longer provide links to the author’s personal websites, use photos of her or talk about any achievements she makes outside of the wizarding world.

The joint statement by the fan sites also said that Rowling’s airing of “harmful and disproven beliefs about what it means to be a transgender person” during Pride Month and her views on “marginalised people [are] out of step with the message of acceptance and empowerment we find in her books and celebrated by the Harry Potter [fan] community”.

This backlash follows a lengthy personal essay released by Rowling last month within which she discussed her beliefs on transgender rights, including examples of where she thought demands by transgender activists were actually dangerous to women.

Trans activists have condemned the authors essay. Photograph: John Phillips/Getty Images

After publishing the essay it didn’t take long for many stars of the Harry Potter universe to speak out. Daniel Radcliffe, who of course played the titular character, and Eddie Redmayne, who starsin the Fantastic Beasts spin-off series, spoke out against the author.

Four authors have also quit Rowling’s literary agency after accusing the company of refusing to issue a statement publicly supporting transgender rights.

The fan sites said members have found it difficult to speak out against Rowling because they have admired her work for so long, but said “it would be wrong not to use our platforms to counteract the harm she has caused.”

“Our stance is firm: transgender women are women,” the statement read. “Transgender men are men. Non-binary people are non-binary. Intersex people exist and should not be forced to live in the binary. We stand with Harry Potter fans in these communities.

“While we don’t condone the mistreatment [Rowling] has received for airing her opinions about transgender people, we must reject her beliefs.”

Rowling has yet to respond to this statement.

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