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There’s No Such Thing as Too Many Companion Books

My wife is almost 24 years old and is reading Harry Potter for the first time. Not because of a dislike of Fantasy or because strict, puritanical parents who think Harry Potter is a devil worshiper, but simply because she reads so many books, that sometimes a couple slip through the cracks. After I finish writing this article, I’m going to tell her the big news: J.K. Rowling has announced two new Harry Potter companion books will be released this October (http://fortune.com/2017/07/18/two-new-harry-potter-books-coming-this-october/). This is going to completely blow her mind and put her in a good mood for the rest of the week, if not the whole month. Even being less of a die-hard Harry Potter fan and not a person who is terribly interested in companion books in general, I’m still excited.
But with most good news, there are those who see it as a sign of the Biblical End Times. They feel that J.K. Rowling is selling out (a weird accusation to lob at a billionaire, but I digress). While I can’t say I agree with the detractors I see where they’re coming from. More than one franchise has been sunk by it’s creator’s need to pump out sequels; however, I would argue that the caution with which sequels should be created need not apply to the creation of companion books. Take the Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. Many of the more casual fans of The Lord of the Rings trilogy don’t even realize this book exists, and yet upon finding out, I have never known a single fan to suddenly burn their copy of Return of the King. This is because, unlike a sequel, a companion book does not place the series’ protagonists in increasingly absurd situations in a desperate ploy to raise the stakes. A companion book merely provides additional context, likely never even mentioning the series’ protagonists or even the conflict with which they must contend.
For hardcore fans, a companion book is just that, a companion. Something that goes along with the story without ever feeling the need to cut in and take over. So I say to J. K. Rowling, write on; the story of Hogwarts might be over, but I would love to know more about Diagon Alley.

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