Wizard bits

By SHARON STEEL  |  July 18, 2007

1) Harvard Book Store/Harvard Yard: Harry and the Potters, Draco and the Malfoys, and the Hungarian Horntails are booked to play a free set in Harvard Yard from 7 to 9 pm, preceded by a speech from Andrew Slack of the HP Alliance; from there, apparate to the Harvard Book Store (1256 Mass Ave, Cambridge; 800.542.READ) for their HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS RELEASE PARTY, which features more music, fortune telling, and an in-store Marauder’s Map.

2) Prizes, spellbinding crafts, and an HPIQ scavenger hunt are among the many activities filling the fifth-floor reading room of the Barnes & Nobles at Boston University’s MIDNIGHT MAGIC COSTUME PARTY (660 Beacon Street, Boston; 617.267.8484). The festivities kick off at 9:30 pm.

3) For a full twelve hours (1 pm–1 am) Coolidge Corner is turning itself into the Brookline version of Hogsmeade Village with its POTTERPALOOZA. Brookline Booksmith (279 Harvard Street; 617.566.6660) will function as your home base in an indoor/outdoor street festival complete with Potter-themed food at local restaurants, contests, and performances.

4) Beginning at 11 pm, guzzle butterbeer, pumpkin juice, and treacle tarts at Porter Square Books (25 White Street, Cambridge; 617.491.2220). The Underground Railroad Theater will present an in-character, in-costume reading from the book at this HARRY POTTER PARTY.

5) Dress up as your favorite character and catch a Knight Bus to your local Borders Books and Music for a GRAND HALLOWS BALL that will include a Potter spelling bee, the Great Snape Debate, and the crowning of a king and queen.

Deathly Hallows Stats
1) Amazon.com pre-orders: 1.5 million and counting
2) Initial print run by Scholastic: 12 million copies
3) Page count: 784 (US version)
4) Harry turns: 17 years old
5) Deaths: two major characters

What’s next?
1) Two Warner Bros films: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
2) At least three Harry Potter conferences: Prophesy (August 2–5) in Toronto; Portus (July 10–13, 2008) in Dallas; Level Two (July 23–26, 2009) in San Jose; and possibly 2010 in Orlando (the location of the yet-to-be-constructed Wizarding World of Harry Potter Theme Park).
3) One last Harry Potter book? Billionaire J.K. Rowling’s made no promises, though she might change her mind if she needs a little rainy-day cash.

The $10-million question: can Harry Potter be replaced?
Three upcoming books with both the potential to fill the void and produce Bookscan numbers that won’t embarrass publishers:

1) The third book (as yet unnamed) in the Inheritance Trilogy by Christopher Paolini (author of Eragon and Eldest)
2) Inkdeath, the third book in the Inkheart Trilogy, by German fantasy writer Cornelia Funke
3) Main Street, a new series by Ann M. Martin (author of The Baby-Sitters Club series)

The great debate
In 2000, Harold Bloom wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal with the headline CAN 35 MILLION BOOK BUYERS BE WRONG? YES. “I feel a discomfort with the Harry Potter mania,” Bloom mused, deriding Rowling’s prose style and announcing it made no demands on readers. When the Phoenix reached Bloom for a comment on his observations about Pottermania since his piece was first published, his response was brief: “I have made a vow never to say a word for public purposes about this phenomenon.”

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