Why Is Rowling Howling and Growling?
Enter Steve Vander Ark, a 46-year-old librarian who fell in love with the Harry Potter books. He’s reportedly read the entire series nearly 50 times, and definitely created the Web site The Harry Potter Lexicon as companion-guide to the book series. He called all this “a hobby, passion, labor of love.” It was hardly a moneymaker, generating a paltry $6,000 in advertising in seven years.
The Web site is a stunner, containing more about Harry Potter than even the author knows. Included are an A-to-Z Index, FAQs, forum, hyperlinks to 142 essays going back to 2000, search capability, quotes, galleries and an online store.
Rowling herself was so delighted with Mr. Vander Ark’s work that she gave it a fan-site award in 2004.
Roger Rapoport, publisher of RDR Books, a small Michigan book publisher, read about the Web site and offered Vander Ark a contract to create a book based on his Lexicon Web site. It was scheduled for publication Nov. 28, 2007.
Pride and Petulance
Rowling went up the wall. After loving the Web site, she hated the idea of a book that actually might make money from her work. On Oct. 31, the film producer, Warner Brothers Entertainment, and Rowling filed an injunction against the publication.
The three-day trial held in Manhattan Federal Court wound up yesterday, and the accounts in The New York Times by Anemona Hartcollis are riveting. (See hyperlinks below.)
In a remarkable turnaround, Rowling has accused Vander Ark of plagiarism, saying, “I believe that this book constitutes the wholesale theft of 17 years of my hard work” and calling it sloppy and lazy.
Rowling has also claimed that since 1998 she has had in her head an idea to create a Harry Potter encyclopedia with the intention of donating the profits to a British charity.