Forthcoming Final Installment Fuels Harry Potter Mania

Article excerpt

Libraries across the country are happily gearing up for another round of Harry Potter mania, as young readers eagerly await the July 21 release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final installment in J. K. Rowling's blockbuster book series.

Many libraries plan to host parties into the night, featuring food, games, and movies, all leading to the release of the book at the stroke of midnight. Friends groups are making arrangements to sell copies, with proceeds going toward the purchase of library materials for young adults.

To add to the drama, Scholastic Inc., the book's U.S. publisher, has formulated strict rules for libraries that receive the final book in the series before its July 21 release date. The contract requires libraries to limit the number of staffers who handle the copies of Deathly Hallows before its official release and to provide names and contact information for each branch manager, the Associated Press reported April 5.

Libraries that fail to comply, the contract warns, may be denied future embargoed titles. "We acknowledge and agree that any such violation will cause irreparable harm to Scholastic and the author, J. K. Rowling, and that monetary damages will be inadequate to compensate for violations," the AP revealed.

Pete Giacoma, director of the Davis County (Utah) Library, said in the April 5 Salt Lake City Deseret News that while he takes the contract seriously, it may also be part of Scholastic's "brilliant" marketing tactics. "It adds to the mystique," he observed. The seven-branch system has already ordered 150 copies and may order up to 250, said Giacoma. Once the library receives them, they will be locked away until early July 21, when the library's driver will make an early run to deliver them to each branch. Already 500 patrons have requested holds for the title.

Scholastic spokeswoman Kyle Good said that the rules are required to honor Rowling's wishes of preserving a "magical moment" for children. "When you have a print run of 12 million books that you're sending out into the world, just in the U.S. alone, and you do want to preserve a very special moment for children, you take whatever precautions you need." Rowling's fantasy series has sold more than 325 million copies worldwide.

The book cover is by illustrator Mary GrandPre and is designed for the first time in a wraparound format. "On the back cover, spidery hands are outstretched toward Harry," Scholastic Art Director David Saylor says. "Only when the book is opened does one see a powerful image of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, his glowing red eyes peering out from his hood."

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The cover for the children's edition released by Rowling's British publisher, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, shows an adult-looking Harry and characters Hermione and Ron. The adult edition bears a photograph of a locket, bearing a serpentine decoration, believed to be the "horcrux" in which Lord Voldemort keeps a fragment of his soul.

Often as controversial as they are popular, the Potter books topped the list of the 10 most challenged books of the 21st century (2000-2005), as tracked by ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom. In an ALA-sponsored poll last October during the 25th anniversary of Banned Books Week, more than 5,000 readers voted the Harry Potter series as their favorite challenged books. …