It’s been 75 years since Bilbo Baggins first captivated readers in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic The Hobbit, and his appeal has not diminished. A prequel to Tolkien’s mythic trilogy the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit paved the way for fantasy fiction, says Bruce Nichols, senior v-p and publisher of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the original (and current) U.S. publisher. “J.R.R. Tolkien helped invent the now-booming genre. He remains one of our bestselling authors many decades later, and we expect he will be a lodestar to readers and writers for many decades to come.”
HMH is celebrating the anniversary with a series of Hobbit-themed September releases, including Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit by Corey Olsen, an in-depth chapter-by-chapter exploration, and The Art of the Hobbit, featuring Tolkien’s original illustrations.
On deck for November are five tie-ins to Peter Jackson’s eagerly anticipated 3D movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, opening December 14. These include an official movie guide, a visual companion, a photo storybook, an activity book, and a behind-the-scenes title for young readers. Note: special editions with movie tie-in covers to Jackson’s Academy Award–winning Lord of the Rings movie trilogy sold 25 million copies worldwide. HMH reports that The Hobbit and LOTR books have sold 150 million copies worldwide.
Meanwhile it’s a celebration of all things Middle-earth at the HMH booth (3447). Fans can pick up Hobbit tote bags and “Gandalf for President” buttons all three days “while supplies last” and view the movie trailer. An Unexpected Journey, the first of two films based on The Hobbit, reunites many of the cast from the Lord of the Rings movies, including Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Elijah Wood as Frodo, and Orlando Bloom as Legolas.
Asked about the enduring appeal of The Hobbit and Tolkien, Ken Carpenter, v-p, director of Trade Paperbacks, offers, “Middle-earth is one of those places that readers identify with and love to inhabit through Tolkien’s work. There are many titans of science fiction/fantasy, and Tolkien is the granddaddy of them all. There is an enduring love for these classics.” He adds that most readers encounter The Hobbit in school, and by the time they graduate to the Lord of the Rings, they are fully immersed. “It has everything you could love in a book—mythology, adventure, and the classic battle between good and evil.”