Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter: It's Just a Book

"The Harry Potter book came today? You know, I don't have kids, but I must get a copy. I'll take one."

The lady must have been about 72, her eyes flashing excitedly behind her bi-focal glasses. She hobbled closer to the cash register expectantly, only to be greeted by a sign saying "SOLD OUT".

Harry Potter is a hot commodity, even in our tiny little town. Apparently there was 'unprecedented world wide demand', so much so that the stores were jilted out of 80% of their orders. As I over heard the exchange, I was inwardly thankful not to be anywhere near the store at the time.

Can you imagine the chaos? The trampling of small children, the fights breaking out, the cries of, "I MUST HAVE ONE"?

No thanks. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, to me is worth braving that kind of insanity.

Now, I completely understand a love of reading. I myself began at 3 years old and from then on have been unstoppable. As I grew up, you'd regularly find me with my nose in a book, hiding it in my desk to catch "just one more chapter" instead of doing my school work. I plowed through a novel a day, devouring everything I could. In fact, today I still can't leave a library with no less then 4 novels and I spend almost my free time reading, either by books or the Internet. I understand the love of a series; I love the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and eagerly awaited each movie release.

I also understand the love of writing and the desire to protect one's work. After all, I am a writer myself. If I had something published, I wouldn't want specific details leaked either, especially in such an anticipated novel as the conclusion to the Potter series.

I a point.

What I don't understand is the lengths that people go to in order to be the first to know, the out of control consumerism, the desire to make a quick buck off of the hype, and how the Supreme Courts in BC will actually go so far as to impose a reading ban on books that were accidentally released early.

We have much bigger problems in BC then whether or not someone reads Harry Potter a few days early. Real estate prices have soared to a point where purchasing a home is out of the reach of even middle class families. Vancouver has an HIV rate of an "estimated 30 percent, similar to that of Botswana", according to The State of World Population 2007 report. Reports have estimated that by the 2010 Olympics, homelessness in Vancouver will have tripled. TRIPLED! I personally know of families living in squalor, who scrape by each day just to feed their children. These are families where the parents are having to hold 2 or 3 jobs to simply survive.

Have our priorities become so impossibly skewed that Harry Potter receives more hype and attention then the realities of Vancouver's East Side? Of global warming? That the BC Supreme Court is actually wasting taxpayers time and money over whether 14 people choose to read a book that they bought legally and is in their possession?

You've got to be kidding me.

It's a just a BOOK, for God's sake.

A book written by a woman listed by Forbes as the world's first billionaire author. What's 14 measly books when you have billions?

A book that retails in these parts for about 1/3 of my weekly grocery bill.

A book that I'll happily do without, thanks. Nothing turns me off of something faster then rampant, overzealous, out of control consumerism.

Even if it's Harry Potter.

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