J.K. Rowling’s book sales have slowed down while the rest of the market has surged forward. The author has plunged herself into a firestorm of controversy over transgender identity.
Last month, sales in print books in fiction overall rose 31.4% in the U.S. from May, according to figures from NPD BookScan.
The Harry Potter author, by contrast, saw her print book sales in the U.S. rise just 10.9% in June. The sudden and sharp drop in print sales for Rowling’s books has caught the attention of industry experts.
The lagging returns for Rowling are especially significant considering that in 2019, her print book sales in June rose right alongside sales for the rest of the industry.
In the first six months of 2020 her sales were up almost 30% but something changed at the start of June!
“She’s certainly underperforming the rest of the market, comparatively, by two thirds,” ays Kristen McLean, analyst and executive director of business development at the NPD Group.
McLean declined to speculate on why, but it’s hard to ignore that, since the first week of June, Rowling has incurred widespread criticism after she began repeatedly expressing contentious views on transgender identity.
“Harry Potter” film stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, “Fantastic Beasts” star Eddie Redmayne have all publicly rebuked Rowling for her stances on trans people.
The controversy erupted after Rowling posted a series of tweets on June 6 contending that women can only be identified by their biological sex. Over the ensuing six weeks, Rowling has repeatedly revisited the issue of transgender identity, from a lengthy essay in which she evoked her past history with sexual assault to assert her support for “single-sex spaces.”