HARRY Potter and the Deathly...silence!
Millions of homes across the world fell quiet this weekend as bookworms feasted on JK Rowling’s long-awaited seventh and final novel in the boy wizard series.
After months of anticipation, shops around the globe opened their doors to sell Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at exactly the same time – a minute past midnight British time.
From Europe to South America, eager readers queued for hours to find out once and for all if the rumours of Harry’s demise were true.
After getting her hands on a copy at a Singapore bookstore, Adela Lim, 16, flipped right to the end, scanned the text furiously and exclaimed: “Oh my God! Oh my God! I’ve waited since the first book all the way until now, so I can’t wait anymore, I just want to find out the ending.”
Rowling, who created Harry a decade ago, gave a midnight reading in London. Her novels about the bespectacled orphan with the lightning-bolt scar have sold 325 million copies in 64 languages. Deathly Hallows has a print run of 12 million in the United States alone. Internet retailer Amazon took 2.2 million orders for the book while Waterstones said it was expecting to shift three million copies. WH Smith claimed it had sold 15 books every second – beating the previous sales record of 13 books per second held by Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Supermarket chain Asda, which is selling the book for £5 instead of the recommended retail price of £17.99, said that it sold half of its entire Deathly Hallows stock overnight.
From London to Los Angeles, Potter-mania spans the globe.
Tel Aviv’s Steimatzky bookstore defied criticism from Orthodox Jewish lawmakers for opening on the Sabbath, when the law requires most businesses in Israel to close. In India, stores were opening at dawn for special Harry Potter parties. In Bangkok, British ambassador David Fall was to hand over Thailand’s first official copy of Deathly Hallows to the first customer in line at the Emporium Shopping Complex.
Phnom Penh’s Monument Books – Cambodia’s only outlet for the book – expected its allocation of 224 copies to sell out instantly.
Mexico City’s Gandhi bookstore planned to keep the party going on all weekend, with showings of the movies and readings in Spanish of excerpts from the book, quickly translated by Mexico’s Harry Potter fan club.
The Harry Potter phenomenon has even reached the heights of academia – Cardiff University launches a new course in September examining whether the series is among the greatest of all time.
From Narnia to Harry Potter: Tradition in Children’s Fantasy Literature and Film is a new part-time programme at the uni’s Centre for Lifelong Learning. It’s run by tutor Dr Dimitra Fimi, who is also responsible for a hugely successful online programme of Tolkien courses.
And the hype has made Welsh Harry Potter lookalike Joseph Evans a few quid.
The 17-year-old from Pontypridd’s career as a double has snowballed over the past two years after his mother secretly entered him in a lookalike competition. He makes up to £100 an hour meeting and greeting fans and signing ‘Harry’ autographs.
Admitting he has more interest than most fans in the youngster’s fate, he said: “I’ll be in trouble if he is killed off, because then I’m going to be out of a job.”