Harry Potter is a brand known worldwide, and one of the most successful children's franchises in history. The last four novels in the series set consecutive records as the fastest-selling books in history. When Harry Potter & The Cursed Child arrived in hardback, it also broke sales records, despite not even being a novel. Logically, one would assume any new children's franchise Rowling started would immediately become a money-making machine. And yet, the author continues to surprise. J.K. Rowling's new book The Ickabog isn't going to rake in dollars and pounds in the U.S. and the U.K., because she's releasing it for free.
As the only billionaire author in the world, Rowling is in a unique position to not worry about how much money her books make from here on out. And yet, it was still a shock to the system when her website announced a new fantasy series was on the way – and that it would be released, chapter by chapter, for free, to anyone who wanted to download it.
But Rowling has a good reason for this. The Ickabog, as the new series is called, is an idea she had back when she was still working on the Potter novels. She's had it shelved away for years, until it occurred to her, that now, with children forced to stay home, and families under quarantine restrictions around the world, this was the perfect opportunity to put it out into the world.
As Rowling put it in her announcement post:
A few weeks ago at dinner, I tentatively mooted the idea of getting The Ickabog down from the attic and publishing it for free, for children in lockdown. My now teenagers were touchingly enthusiastic, so downstairs came the very dusty box, and for the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in a fictional world I thought I’d never enter again.
Realizing the story lent itself well to release in serial format, Rowling decided to she would release a few chapters at a time, with plans for the final chapter to arrive on July 10. For those who want to purchase a paper copy, the book will arrive on shelves in November. All royalties will be donated to those affected by the coronavirus.
Rowling did not reveal what The Ickabog is about, other than to say, "it isn’t Harry Potter, and it doesn’t include magic," and it's "a story about truth and the abuse of power." For the rest, fans will have to read Chapter One "King Fred The Fearless," and Chapter Two "The Ickabog," which are now available on The Ickabog website.
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