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It’s been nearly 15 years since U.S. readers first met Harry Potter and traveled with him to Hogwarts via J.K. Rowling’s now-classic series. To mark this milestone, Scholastic will be publishing seven all-new covers on its U.S. trade paperbacks editions this September and today reveals the first one, for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
The new artwork is by Kazu Kibuishi (click on the cover for an enlarged version), creator of the bestselling graphic novel series Amulet (Scholastic/Graphix). “Initially I didn’t want to see it done,” Kibuishi told PW, “because I love the original covers so much. I’m a huge fan. But after thinking about it for a while, I figured if someone were going to do it, I should try it.” Though the assignment was daunting at first, Kibuishi says he started thinking about the Harry Potter books “as if I was looking back at them from the future. I wanted to pay tribute to the series itself and to classic literature. I wanted to take those two things and fuse them together. In a way, the first Harry Potter cover should feel like Dickens.”
Kibuishi believes he may have it a bit easier than Mary GrandPré, the artist who created the original U.S. covers for the Harry Potter books. “I have the advantage of seeing the books in historical context,” Kibuishi says. However, he notes that he has put pressure on himself, wanting to live up to GrandPré’s example. “I’ve never worked so hard on single images in my life!” he says. “I’m an author as well and I know how much work I put into my own covers, so I thought ‘this [the Harry Potter project] won’t be bad.’ But when I came to do it, I realized how much more this project meant to me. I want to get it right.”
Scholastic believes he is doing just that. “We’re incredibly fond of Kazu’s work,” says Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic Trade Publishing. “His passion for this world is incredible, so he seemed like the perfect person.”
Berger says that the new covers are one of the ways Scholastic is reaching out to new Harry Potter fans. “In the last year, we’d been thinking of how to make Harry Potter accessible and relevant to a new audience of eight- and nine-year-olds,” she says. “We started the Harry Potter Book Club as a way to bring kids, some of whom maybe only knew the movies, back to the books, and introduce this wonderful world to them. Mary’s covers are so iconic to all of us, and they will remain on the U.S. hardcover and digest paperback editions. But we were trying to figure out a new look, with new appeal, and with the 15th anniversary coming up, it seemed like a good idea to hook into that.”
All seven of the new Harry Potter trade paperback titles will be available individually in September and priced between $12.99 and $16.99. The volumes will also be packaged in a boxed set that will retail for $100.
As yet another 15th-anniversary treat for Potter fans, Scholastic will release the first boxed set of the complete Hogwarts Library, which includes Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard, in November. The set will retail for $29.99 and sales will benefit two charities chosen by Rowling: Lumos, the children’s charity she founded, and also Comic Relief, the U.K.-based charity that uses funds to combat poverty and social injustice.