Fifteen years after ''Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,'' Scholastic has updated the series' original covers with immersive, edgy art from Kazu Kibuishi

By Stephan Lee
August 23, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

Considering how many editions of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books are already out there — the iconic Mary GrandPré-illustrated American hardcovers, the various British incarnations, the Pottermore e-books — do we really need yet another repackaging of the series? Well, no. But will fans be dying to own the newly designed 15th-anniversary paperback set? Can Hippogriffs fly?

”The really beloved series all have their collectibility,” says Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine. ”The Tolkiens, His Dark Materials, all the Narnia editions. This is the same kind of thing.”

To please discerning Potterheads, many of whom (including myself) have spent hours gazing lovingly at GrandPré’s whimsical artwork, Scholastic chose Amulet graphic artist Kazu Kibuishi, a Potter obsessive himself. ”Kazu is great at creating these worlds that you want to be in, that you want to see and visit,” says creative director David Saylor. ”He’s also great at giving a sense of epic grandeur.” Without completely disregarding the old — the interiors of the books retain GrandPré’s illustrations at the chapter beginnings — Kibuishi gives Potter fans plenty of details to discover: The spines of the books line up together to form a rendering of Hogwarts, and the back of each book shows Harry from behind as he faces a pivotal moment, along with a key quote (”It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow up to be”).

But the new paperbacks aren’t only for collectors — they’re also cannily aimed at a new audience. ”We were thinking about the whole journey of Harry Potter and the fact that we’ve reached a new generation,” says Levine. If these books can engage kids who know Harry just from the movies, then Scholastic may have created a new legion of Potterheads.