Industry observers say Harry Potter has definitely helped lift the realm of fantasy into the spotlight. Kids who finish off Rowling's novels are more apt to move on to other established science fiction and fantasy authors -- including Garth Nix and Philip Pullman:
For fantasy authors, the presence of JK Rowling must make them feel like professional basketball players who laced up their sneakers in the days when Michael Jordan ruled the court.
Potter's popularity has only made things better, believes Sharyn November, founder of Firebird, a fantasy publisher, and senior editor at Viking Children's Books. "Fantasy literature is in a wonderful place right now. I'm sure some of these books have changed people's lives. It's an awesome responsibility."
Author Tamora Pierce agrees. "When a fan comes up to you and says, 'Your book changed my life,' you know it's true - because books do change lives."
Still, childrens' authors still have to defend themselves against the charge that their works are somehow subpar:
"We're always asked, 'When are you going to work on real books?'," says November. "My stock answer is, 'Do you ask pediatricians when they're going to start treating real patients?'"