We hope JK Rowling has reserved a particularly large vault at Gringotts bank. A bumper year for the Harry Potter novelist has magicked her back to the No 1 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s richest authors, almost a decade after she last topped it.
Forbes – which uses a mix of print, ebook and audio sales data, television and film earnings and expert industry opinion to come up with its list – estimates that Rowling earned $95m in the year to 31 May. This figure is the equivalent of more than $180 per minute, thanks to the sensational sales of her play script, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. When the Harry Potter sequel was released last summer, it sold more than 680,000 print copies in the UK in the first three days alone, and became the fastest selling book since the final Harry Potter novel.
Rowling’s earnings have been boosted with the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a film set in the Harry Potter world for which she wrote the script, which was published in November. Her original publisher, Bloomsbury, has also been releasing illustrated versions of the Potter novels, to mark 20 years since the publication of the first in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Forbes producer Hayley Cuccinello admitted she was surprised to see Rowling’s earnings increase $76m over 12 months, attributing the surge to the recent successes from the Harry Potter franchise on stage and screen. “But unless Rowling releases another bestselling book in time for next year’s list,” said Cuccinello, “her earnings will almost certainly dip dramatically and she’ll likely relinquish first place.” Rowling, who last topped Forbes’ list in 2008, comes in this year $8m ahead of second-placed James Patterson, the thriller powerhouse who has headed the list for the last three years.