Did Those Transphobic Tweets Hurt J.K. Rowling’s Book Sales?

"Harry Potter" sales are lagging behind during a publishing industry boom.

J.K. Rowling has been embroiled in controversy since promoting transphobia rhetoric in June, and it appears the bestselling author’s trans-exclusionary views might have hit her wallet. Amid an industry-wide boom, Harry Potter book sales are lagging behind, Variety reports.

Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the publishing industry has seen a rise in sales across the board. In June, sales of print books in fiction rose 31.4% in the U.S., according to NPD BookScan. But Rowling’s beloved fantasy series is lagging behind: Print book sales of Harry Potter titles rose a meager 10.9% since May. If you add licensed Harry Potter books not authored by Rowling, that growth percentage drops even more.

“Looking at [Rowling’s] performance against the rest of the market, especially as benchmarked against her performance in 2019—which was very consistent with the rest of the market—I think she’s down,” Kristen McLean, executive director of business development at NPD Group, told Variety. “She’s certainly underperforming the rest of the market, comparatively, by two thirds.”

It would be reductive to say that Rowling’s book sales are dwindling strictly because of her transphobia, but the major ding to her public image certainly isn’t a boon. As NewNowNext previously reported, Rowling came under fire in June for a series of tweets mocking an op-ed that used trans-inclusive language to discuss menstrual health and wellness.

Instead of backtracking when she was called out, the author doubled down, later uploading a lengthy “explanation” via blog post digging her deeper into a hole.

It’s not all doom and gloom dementors and curses, though. OG Harry Potter stars like Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, as well as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them actor Eddie Redmayne, have publicly denounced Rowling’s anti-trans rhetoric.

Radcliffe—who got his start portraying Rowling’s titular hero of the wizarding world—even penned an essay for The Trevor Project’s blog responding to her tweets.

“Transgender women are women,” the British actor wrote. “Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I.”

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.
@_sammanzella