‘Potter’ frenzy starts early

Tue, 07/17/2007 - 4:48pm
By: Michael Boylan

‘Potter’ frenzy starts early

Twelve million copies of the final installment of author J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series will be released in the United States at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, and local libraries and book stores are getting in on the magic act, helping muggles, young and old, get their hands on “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

Since the release date was announced earlier this year, orders for the book have sky-rocketed. Amazon.com will be sending out 1.6 million copies of the book this weekend, and delivery services like UPS and FedEx are expected to have extra people on the roads to make sure everyone who ordered it can start reading this weekend.

Every Harry Potter release after “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” the first book in the series, has met with increasing demand and hype.

Bookstores and libraries started to offer release parties, gathering local fans of the magical stories together for trivia and costume contests and camaraderie. Millions of people have fallen under Rowling’s enchanting spell and with the release of the final book coming on the heels of the release of the fifth movie in the series, interest is at an all-time high.

The local libraries have already received numerous calls about placing holds on copies of the book but holds can’t be placed until the book is entered in the catalog on Friday night.

“Log on to your account on Friday night and you should be able to put a hold on it,” said Peachtree City Library Director Jill Prouty. Prouty and several of her colleagues will be driving down to the Flint River Regional Library early Saturday morning to pick up their 15 copies and the copies for the other libraries in the county. The books will be ready to go out when their doors open later that day.

Vicki Marshall, the technical services director for the Flint River Regional Library, had to sign numerous affidavits several months ago stating that they would abide by the embargo of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and would not let the books out of their sight or onto their shelves prior to 12:01 a.m. on July 21.

“Sometimes, with other books, we will get polite requests not to put a book on a shelf before a certain date, but it is nothing like what comes with a ‘Harry Potter’ book,” said Marshall, who later told an anecdote about her daughter working for Amazon several years ago during a Harry Potter release. “There were guards watching them, making sure they didn’t sneak peeks at the pages or pocket copies.”

All of the warnings, guards and affidavits may make one think of the Dementors from the novels, but the precautions are in place to protect the secret of how the most popular fictional series of all time ends.

Speculation is running rampant on websites around the world and some hackers are stating that they have broken the system, read the final book and know how it ends. Many people doubt these claims, though, and will read the book to find out for themselves.

Though it is all about the book, the parties leading up to the release add to the fun. Omega Books and Books A Million in Peachtree City and Barnes and Noble in Fayetteville will all offer something for their loyal customers on Friday evening leading up to the book’s release.

Omega will open their doors at 11 p.m. and will have a party with goodies and an appearance from Rita Skeeter, the Daily Prophet’s nosy reporter.

Books-A-Million’s party starts officially at 9 p.m. and the side parking lot will be closed off to hold the event, which will feature costume and trivia contests, crafts and live-action human tic-tac-toe called “Tic-Tac-Toad.”

“We’ve had tons of interest in this book,” said manager Christine Bolles, who added that the store won’t get the books until the last possible minute and they will be enclosed in red shrink wrap and will be under lock and key until the book is released.

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