Though Julie Bosman and Motoko Rich don’t flat-out ask this question in their New York Times piece about the Harry Potter VII publication date announcement, this paragraph mid-way expresses the sentiment just as clearly:

It is hard to imagine how the publishing industry will ever replace the sensation that spawned midnight parties and all-night lines to get the books the moment they went on sale. When HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, the sixth in the series, was published in July 2005, it sold 6.9 million copies in the first 24 hours.

Especially as the answer is plainly obvious: they can’t. And to its credit, Scholastic isn’t pretending they can, though they do hope future projects will compensate for the revenue lost by their being nothing quite like the Potter phenomenon in the pipeline.

Then again, there might be; who would have expected the series to hit as it did when the first volume was released ten years ago? But even if one can be supremely confident that lightning will strike the bottle again – and that it won’t be aping what made J.K. Rowling‘s series so mega-successful – actively looking for that future success is, and always will be, a crapshoot. And unlike what J.P. Morgan analyst Frederick Searby thinks, even if Rowling were to “come out of retirement and pull a Michael Jordan” there’s little likelihood she’ll ever be able to replicate the success of the Potter books. Then again, she doesn’t really need to.