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Harry Potter Casts His Spell for a Sixth Time

July 21, 2005 By:
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All smiles at midnight, when a Harry Potter fan got her prize - the latest book in the series.
Who knew that a young boy with rather geeky, dark-rimmed glasses could hold so much power? Not just the kind of magical power involving special potions and curses and flying broomsticks, but the kind that captivates millions - and leaves them hungry for more.

"I devour it," said Jacob Adenbaum, barely able to contain his excitement while at summer day camp at the Kaiserman JCC.

The magical boy in question is Harry Potter, and Adenbaum, like scads of other children and adults of all ages, was awaiting the highly anticipated release of the sixth book in the J.K. Rowling series - this one called Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

With just two days left until the July 16 release, Adenbaum plotted how he would convince one of his parents to take him to the Harry Potter midnight party at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore to pick up his two reserved copies, rather than wait till the store reopened the following morning.

"It's my mom's birthday, and if I get the book early enough, I can finish it by 5 p.m. and have time to celebrate her birthday with her," explained the 12-year-old, who read the previous book in a single day. "I'll have to tell her the earlier I get it, the more time she'll have with me on her birthday."

With hype for the book at an all-time high, stores around the country planned events for Friday evening, like the one Adenbaum wanted to attend, to welcome the new addition as it makes its way onto America's bookshelves.

"It's more like a party," said Rachel Kaufman, who attended the last release in 2003 with her two teenage children, both in costume, and planned to go this time around as well.

"There's things all over the store for the kids to do. And you just kind of talk to people in line and hang out."

Kaufman herself was eager to crack open the spine and enter the world of ghosts and warlocks, as she had done numerous times in the past. She said she would devote all day Saturday to reading it. Her children know to give her the day to spend alone with Harry.

A Cash Cow
The phenomenon of the youthful Potter and his adventures at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry began with Rowling's first book in September 1998. Ever since, according to the books' publisher (Scholastic), 270 million copies of the five books in the series have been sold in 62 languages. The latest book release breaks publishing history, claims Scholastic, with an unprecedented amount of copies - 10.8 million - printed in the first run.

As if that weren't enough cash to turn a witch green, movies based on the first three books - an adaptation of the fourth is slated to hit theaters in November - grossed a total amount of more than $800 million in the United States alone.

To kick off last week's "magical" weekend, Scholastic was permitted to close streets in Lower Manhattan on Friday morning and transform them into "Harry Potter Place." The first autographed U.S. edition of the book was revealed there and scheduled to remain on display in a locked case, guarded by security personnel.

More than 9,000 libraries nationwide had entered to win the copy; the victor was scheduled to take possession of it at 12:01 a.m.

Even those who can't read the 672-page book by themselves are excited about the release. Stephen Haftel, all of 8 years old, said it may take his mother four or five months to read the book to him, but he still planned on attending the evening party and getting his copy, which was pre-ordered six months ago.

Spencer Luboff, 14, who also planned to attend a midnight book party - though, he said, not in costume - reserved three copies, "just in case."

Others, like Hannah Schaeffer, 11, weren't going to the event, but still can't wait to read more about Harry. "My mom said I have to wait for my birthday next month to get the book."

Then, she added - perhaps as a precautionary measure - "it would definitely ruin it if someone told me the ending."

As young Jacob Adenbaum was hoping his powers of persuasion would prove successful with his parents, he noted that even if he didn't get there at the strike of 12, he planned to be there "the second the store opens in the morning."

"All I know is that the minute it comes out and I get my hands on it, I'm pushing all the other books on my list to the end."

 

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