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Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows

harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallowsMore than 325 million people have read the Harry Potter series according to the publisher. They claim this is not due to global marketing – but I do wonder. Certainly this would have been a popular series without the massive advertising and media hype that it has had, but I do believe that it is the intense marketing and media attention that has made the series the phenomenon that it has become.

There has never been another book that has publishers requiring booksellers to sign an affidavit not to sell or read the books before the timed deadline – 12:01 a.m. on the on-sale date. The publisher has organized such promotional plans that the number of e-mails and correspondence with sales reps is overwhelming.

The amount of money being spent by the publisher and booksellers is staggering – all hoping for big sales – but after so much spent on promotions and discounts, not necessarily huge profits.

In case you have somehow missed the announcement, the latest and last in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be released at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, July 21.

Author J.K. Rowling has said that two characters will die in the final book. I wonder why?

Why is it necessary, why can't it be happily ever after? Why do children’s books today have to have death, alcoholism, incest, separated families – all the tragedies of life?

Yes, I know those things exist, but as a bookseller I can tell you it is sometimes hard to find a novel for a young reader with a nice normal family with normal problems.

None of us want to read books about endless distress all the time, sometimes we just want a good book that does not reflect every awful thing that life may bring.

As I thought about the coming Harry Potter book, I thought about the readers of the Harry Potter series in general. I have been reading books to my own children and selling books to children for more than 30 years.

When I selected books to read aloud I looked for some of the books from my own childhood: Secret Seven, Famous Five, Swallows and Amazons, and the classics – the magical Borrowers, of course Dr. Seuss and Noddy, Pookie and Curious George.

As the children became older, I looked for novels that they could read alone. There were novels by Jean Little and Janet Lunn.

There was The Wrinkle in Time Series by Madeleine L'Engle, which begins "It was a dark and stormy night." Just reissued with a forward by Anna Quindlen, it is the story of a child who feels neglected, alone and confused, and the series of five books begins. There is adventure, there is danger, and there is fantasy. Also reissued this summer is the fantasy series The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, beginning with Over Sea, Under Stone. Admittedly, the new popularity of these series is, in part, because of the popularity of the Harry Potter series – young readers are looking for more of the same. There has been such a plethora of fantasy for young readers there are times I find it difficult to find books for young readers that are not fantasy. As much as it is necessary to help children deal with grief and the hard issues of life, in fiction it is also important, I believe, to provide books that are fun to read, that have characters who are successful in surmounting their challenges and who are just normal children having an adventure.

There is no doubt that the popularity of the Harry Potter series has encouraged children to read and encouraged families to read together. When this series began 10 years ago, many of the readers were only nine years old. They are now at the end of their teenage years. And there are as many adults as there are children waiting to read this last book.

Author J.K. Rowling will mark the release of the final book by giving a midnight reading and signing at the Natural History Museum London.

Here in Parry Sound we are going to do something special for the release of the last book as well – in spite of my grinch-like attitude! We will open the store at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday morning (Friday night) July 21. We will open the doors to the lobby of the Beatty Building at 11 p.m. and those who choose to attend will be welcomed with snacks and refreshments - and we will read together the first volume of the Harry Potter series as we wait for the last to be on sale. The first 145 purchasers of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will receive a poster, a bookmark, and a tattoo and all purchasers, that evening and for the rest of the summer, will receive a special reading journal to celebrate the event as well as a $10 gift certificate to spend on another book that day or later in the summer. We will draw for a door prize of a complete set of the first 6 books in the series in the adult paperback covers.

Please join us in celebrating the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and come back another day to discover more wonderful books for young readers.

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