The Story of... Harry Potter and the collectors who invest in JK Rowling

Apparently, it all began with an offer of $2,250 from a wise man at Bloomsbury to print 1,000 books. It was a great encouragement to the author: a single mother from Edinburgh whose book had helped her cope with bereavement, divorce after a turbulent marriage and constant fear of failure...

Today, the author Joanne Rowling - or "JK" as she's better known - is estimated to be worth about $1bn. The book in question was, of course, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Rowling once returned to the tiny flat in which she wrote it, accompanied by cameras, and burst into tears....

According to Forbes, Rowling is now the second-richest woman in entertainment, behind Oprah and ahead of Madonna. She is also the first person to become rich by writing books. Her Harry Potter sequel, the Goblet of Fire, broke all publishing records with first day sales of 372,775 copies.

Rowling's literary agent Christopher Little - aka the 'wise man at Bloomsbury' - has also become a multi-millionaire several times over thanks to the boy wizard. Little remains the backstage mastermind, and fierce protector, of Rowling's success.

The market for signed Rowling first editions could mature in 10-15 years (Click to find out more)


And, as the writer and her agent have accrued wealth, so have the collectors who have invested in her memorabilia. Particularly Rowling's signature, the value of which has risen by 203.8% in the last 10 years according to the industry's PFC40 Autographs Index.

While the upcoming seventh Hollywood Harry Potter film is marketed like the Second Coming and sure to be a blockbuster, Rowling's success is also being felt on the auction block. These sales are confirming her presence in the hearts and minds - and wallets - of readers both young and old...

For instance, in February 2010 a signed first edition Harry Potter book sold for £15,500 ($23,900) against a relatively low estimate of £9,700 ($15,000). And this success is sure to continue and grow in future years...

As Paul wrote in his weekly Paul says... column: "First edition books (that would have cost a few dollars at the time) are now selling for $10,000. If you managed to get JK Rowling to sign one [when they were first released] you'd now be looking at $25,000.

"These markets probably won't fully mature for 10-15 years when the children of today are set in their careers and have the disposable income to invest in their childhood passions."

Today, JK Rowling is known across the globe - making unpublished works like this one especially rare and valuable...


And aside from massive sales and Hollywood hype, there's another factor which will help Rowling's legacy endure for years to come: she happens to be a great writer. Just ask horror author and expert Stephen King...

King compared Rowling to Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series which is also enjoying success with big screen spin-offs. "The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can't write worth a darn. She's not very good," he told USA Weekend.

Whether future generations regard the Harry Potter books as highly as the great works which influenced it, by the likes of CS Lewis and TH White (the latter's The Sword In The Stone is "Harry's spiritual ancestor," said Rowling), remains to be seen.

Yet Rowling and her creation Harry Potter, who are each enjoying status as billion-dollar media properties and globally-recognised cultural figures, are the among best investments on the collectibles markets.

And with non-first edition books signed by Rowling, priced at £1,250 ($1,875), there are plenty of opportunities for entry-level investors to get involved...



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