On September 1, 1998, Scholastic published Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the United States, for the first time. The book, which had already been released in the UK under the moniker of Philosopher, rather than Sorcerer, immediately blew up in popularity and began flying off the shelves in earnest as young kids, teenagers, adults, and octogenarians alike dove deep into the world of magic. It also made J.K. Rowling a millionaire.
The first book in a series of seven would go on to become one of the highest-sold books in the world and was adapted onscreen for the first installment of the successful movie franchise. The release of each new book became an event unto itself, marked by then-revolutionary midnight-release parties, lines, book pre-orders, and gatherings in which young kids would stand outside the Barnes and Noble for hours waiting to get their hands on Harry’s next adventure.
To mark the 20th anniversary, Scholastic books released a commemorative video celebrating two whole decades of magic and the wizarding world with a short video in which Arthur A. Levine, the book’s first editor, Richard Robinson, the CEO of Scholastic, and teachers discussed the impact of the book and how it changed the world. The video is also interspersed with real footage of kids picking up their first copies of books at midnight release parties in fully Harry Potter grab. To those fans, Harry Potter is just as relevant today as it was then, and it’s not going anywhere.
In addition, NBC Today launched a contest to celebrate the 20-year anniversary. To enter, super fans must tell Today what their favorite passage from the book is and why. Three grand prize winners will be invited to New York City with a friend to see the Broadway Play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, go on a guided tour at the New-York Historical society on A History of Magic, and have lunch with the original editor of the series, Arthur A. Levine.