In 10 days, Harry's fifth movie arrives in theaters.
In 20, his final book hits the shelves. Are you ready?
WITH BREAKOUTS/SIDE BARS AT BOTTOM
It's Christmas in July for Harry Potter fans.
The fifth movie, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," opens July 11. At 12:01 a.m.
The seventh and final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," goes on sale July 21. At 12:01 a.m.
If you want to be one of the first to see the movie or read the book, you'd better reserve a seat or copy now.
A few thousand people already have reserved books at the Rockford Barnes & Noble Booksellers, said community relations manager Sherry Zabikow. Barnes & Noble and Borders both plan local parties the evening of July 20 and will begin selling books right after midnight on the 21st.
"This is making book history. I don't think there has been anything that beats this," Zabikow said.
When the publication date of "Deathly Hallows" was announced in February, it took only hours for it to reach the top of Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble best-seller lists -- five months before the book would be out. During the first few hours, said Zabikow, the national company was selling 168 volumes each second.
There are lots of amazing things about the Harry Potter phenomenon. The books' writer, J.K. Rowling, was a struggling, single parent when she found a publisher willing to print her first Harry Potter volume in 1997. Just 10 years later, she is said to be the first person in the world to make a billion dollars through writing. Around 325 million Harry Potter books have been sold, in 63 languages.
U.S. publisher Scholastic is printing 12 million copies of "Deathly Hallows," and stores say the initial supply may be gone by sundown July 21. Roxanne McCarren of Borders said the local store will hold copies through July 21 for people who have reserved them. If you don't get one then, you may have to wait for the next shipment.
"No book has ever sold so many copies in so little time. We'll sell 50,000 copies an hour -- less than 1 percent of books sell 50,000 copies in their lifetime," Steve Riggio, chief executive of Barnes & Noble, told the British newspaper the Telegraph.
Harry Potter fans are eager to see how the series ends, and Scholastic is determined that everyone wait until July 21 to find out. The publisher is storing the books in steel containers wrapped in thick plastic and bound with chains. A truck driver told British press he was ordered to drive the books nonstop from Virginia to Georgia, and his truck was outfitted with GPS to make sure he did just that.
McCarren said she could not reveal how many volumes her store will get.
"We have to be tight-lipped about that," she said, "but we will have plenty. I cannot tell you anything about how or when they will get here. But they will be locked down and nobody, including us, will be able to see them until it's time."
'I Don't Want it to be Over'
"Deathly Hallows" will almost certainly be the bestseller of 2007. Local booksellers say readers from early elementary school age to retired folks snap up Harry Potter books.
Rachel Nunaly will be at Borders when the clock strikes midnight and July 21 begins. The recent graduate of Guilford High School said she feels bittersweet about the event.
"I can't wait to see how it ends," said Nunaly, "but I don't want it to be over."
Nunaly read her first Harry Potter book when she was in elementary school and hasn't missed any of the six-book series. None disappointed her, she said.
"With the movies, yes, I was disappointed," Nunaly said. "With the books, never."
Last year, Nunaly and friend Stephanie Cascio started a Harry Potter reading club at Guilford. Cascio, also a recent grad, said she went from reading Judy Blume books to Harry Potter sometime in elementary school.
She was intrigued, she said, by the magic in Harry Potter's world and the words Rowling used, both the common ones and those the author invented that now are becoming common.
"As I read and learned those words, I think it made it easier to read other books with big words," Cascio said.
She hasn't let it sink in that this will be the last Harry Potter tale, she said. "I don't like thinking about it."
Cascio and Nunaly will be at Borders with some friends and Cascio's grandmother, 54-year-old Barbara Cascio, who said Harry Potter has a lot more adult fans than people think.
"Until you start talking to people who like Harry Potter, you don't know how many are not children," she said.
Barbara Cascio read her first Potter book at Stephanie's urging. She's become such a fan she has her name on two book reserve lists, to make sure she gets at least one copy of "Deathly Hallows." Like the girls, she said, she'll go home and read it cover-to-cover before sleeping, no matter how long it takes to get through the 784 pages.
Geri Bethune, a language arts teacher at West Middle School, believes the Potter book series has introduced many children to the joy of reading.
"If you ask children to do a book report, they automatically say they want to do Harry Potter," Bethune said. "If it's silent reading time, they bring a Harry Potter book. It seems those books are always checked out of the library."
Bethune has been amazed, she said, because Potter books are not easy reading, especially for younger children, and they are long, yet students don't get frustrated with them.
Harry Potter has brought some student "closet" readers out into the open, making them less fearful of reading out loud in class, Bethune said. The Harry Potter movies have also inspired some students to read the books.
The fifth movie opens July 11. Local theater managers said they don't yet know how many screens will feature "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," but it will be on more than one.
Chris Malo of Kerasotes Theatres said ShowPlace 14 in Machesney Park and ShowPlace 16 in Rockford will begin selling tickets for the film today. The theater hasn't planned any pre-show parties, but Malo said Potter fans make the opening a festive occasion on their own, coming in costume and with Harry Potter "scars" on their foreheads.
'End of an Era'
While Harry Potter is a worldwide sensation, he remains a peaceful force.
"When the last book came out, people were coming in, wearing costumes, at 3 in the afternoon, waiting it out until midnight to get their book," Barnes & Noble's Zabikow said. "You might think that would be chaos. But they've come to enjoy the event, many with their families. It takes place in a bookstore, which is a relatively safe environment."
When this book hits the shelves, it will almost certainly be the biggest thing yet for the publishers and the Potter fans.
"I don't think we'll see this happen again," Zabikow said. "So with the seventh book, that's the end of an era."
Geri Nikolai can be reached at 815-987-1337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIG DATES WITH HARRY
Wednesday, July 11: Fifth movie, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," opens in the U.S. Many theaters offering first showing at 12:01 a.m. Tickets go on sale today.
Saturday, July 21: The final book in the series, "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows," goes on sale. Many stores are staying open Friday night to begin selling the book at midnight.
Win the book: Go to Rockfordwoman.com and enter to win the last book. Click on "Things are gonna get Harry."
HOW HOT IS HARRY?
Universal is building a Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, Fla., to open in 2009.
One marketing report says Harry Potter scores behind Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse in popularity, but ahead of Superman.
More than 325 million copies of Harry Potter books have been sold, in 63 languages. That's enough for one book per every 20 people on Earth.
The four Harry Potter movies have made $3.5 billion.
Author J.K. Rowling is said to be first writer to become a billionaire. Rowling has sold more books than any author in the 10 years since Amazon launched its online bookselling business. Shakespeare is in 26th place.
Sources: Orlando Sentinel, Christian Science Monitor, Business Week, The Telegraph newspaper of Britain
Muggle: Non-magical person.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry: Harry's school, from which he likely will graduate in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the final book.
Albus Dumbledore: Longtime headmaster of Hogwarts and arguably the most powerful wizard, the only one Voldemort has ever feared.
Lord Voldemort: The most evil and powerful wizard in the world, responsible for dozens of deaths, including those of Harry's mother and father.
Death Eater: One of Voldemort's followers.
Ron and Hermione (her-MY-oh-nee): Harry's best friends who have played a part in all his adventures.
Quidditch: The wildly popular wizarding game played with four balls by two teams of seven people who fly on broomsticks.
Ministry of Magic: The governing body of the wizarding world.
-- Annette LaCross