Books & weedingReading the New York Times this morning, I chuckled as I learned that Scholastic has designed its own series of books that its executives hope will become the successor to the Harry Potter series. It’ll be called The 39 Clues, and they’ve hired Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson Greek-mythology-based books The Lightning Thief and Sea of Monsters, to lay down its basic design and characters.

Evidently the Scholastic executives were not happy when J.K. Rowling kept all the rights to the Harry Potter series, and Scholastic missed out on the cash from the movie, computer game, and product rights to the massive worldwide sales of everything HP. So this time Scholastic has big hopes for a big cash windfall into its pockets. From Motoko Rich’s Times article:

Called “The 39 Clues,” this series will feature 10 books — the first of which is to go on sale next September — as well as related Web-based games, collectors’ cards and cash prizes. The project demonstrates Scholastic’s acknowledgment that as much as the publisher heralded the renewed interest in reading represented by the Harry Potter books, many children are now as transfixed by Internet and video games as they are by reading.

“We want to go where the kids are and really be part of their complete world, rather than going to one aspect of their world,” said David Levithan, an executive editorial director at Scholastic. He added, “We talk of it as being subversively educational.”

With Riordan as the author of Volume 1 of the series, Gordon Korman is under contract to write volume 2, and other authors (see the article) will write the rest.

Well, we’ll all wait and see what happens. I’m a big fan of Riordan’s work, and I suppose it’s possible to create a big demand for a children’s series if your publicity budget bulks large enough, but I think it’ll be difficult indeed to create “another” Harry Potter series. Publishers have spent the last 10 years working hard to duplicate the series’ sway over kids (and adults), and haven’t even come close yet.