Two events occurred this past week that bring to mind the
power of books. On July 25, Tim LaHaye died, and six days later, at precisely
12:01 am on July 31, the eighth Harry
book was released.
LaHaye, of course, was the creator and co-author of Left Behind, a series of 16 books
published between 1995 and 2007 that became the bestselling series of Christian
fiction books in history, with 80 million copies sold to date.
The first Harry Potter
book was published the year the last Left
novel was released. In the nine years since, more than 450 million Harry Potter
books have been sold
worldwide, making J.K. Rowling’s iconic books the bestselling general fiction
series of all time.
For its part, Left
Behind had an enormous impact on Christian publishing and bookselling,
showing that fiction books with biblical themes could find a wide audience,
while bringing new customers to Christian bookstores at a time when the retail
landscape was changing. Harry Potter encouraged
a new generation of readers and spawned countless films, ancillary products,
even a theme park.
That’s pretty powerful stuff, and it all started with two
series of books.