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Old 05-03-2003, 11:51 AM   #1
Arvon
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Join Date: October 4, 2001
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Here's the quotation from Daily Telegrapher:

Longing for the clock to strike 12
(Filed: 02/05/2003)


Its advanced sales are higher than for any other book in history, it weighs nearly a kilo and the security surrounding its publication is on a military scale - yes, it's nearly time for the new Harry Potter. To celebrate, we have a wizard competition. Cassandra Jardine reports


After months of deepest secrecy, we now know that J K Rowling is to make an appearance at the Royal Albert Hall to mark the publication of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. There, on June 26, 4,000 adoring fans (selected by ballot from schools), will be entertained by a "dramatic" stage set and "exciting" pre-performance acts, before Joanne the Great steps on stage. She will be interviewed by Stephen Fry and will read some excerpts from the book. The whole event will last just over an hour.


Eagerly anticipated: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
It will be a celebration fit for a queen - though, unlike Queen Elizabeth II, Joanne Rowling inspires excitement bordering on hysteria in her young subjects. Furthermore, she is already, according to the latest calculations, considerably wealthier than the monarch, with a fortune of £280 million - some £30 million more than Her Majesty.

Her publishers are clearly keen to emphasise the regal overtones, describing her appearance as an "audience" that will mark the publication of the fifth novel in her seven-part series, after a three-year gap. But J K Rowling, for all that, makes an unlikely monarch.

Naturally shy, she has made no bones about her aversion to the circus that usually accompanies the launch of a new book. Interviews make her curl up and the signing sessions for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire apparently gave her repetitive strain injury.

So, this time, there will be no tour of the country on the Hogwarts Express, nor any signing sessions. Rowling will be spending her days with her new-born baby, David, and the book is almost guaranteed to break all publishing records.

Already, advanced sales are higher than for any other book in history. In Britain, orders far exceed a million, although Bloomsbury, her publisher, considers it "vulgar" to announce its print run. In America, Scholastic has already committed itself to a second printing of 1.5 million, on top of the first run of 6.5 million. And all because we can't wait to find out what happens next to the boy wizard.

Since Rowling finally delivered her much delayed manuscript to Bloomsbury last autumn - an event greeted by sighs of relief and an instant hike in the company's share price - publication plans have been handled like state secrets, and those in the know bound by gagging orders. Within the publishing house itself, only two people have apparently read the book.


Will Harry be at the mercy of his hormones in the new book?

"The less I know, the less I can leak," says Rosamund de la Hey, Bloomsbury's marketing director.

All we know about is the orange cover (released in March, amid great excitement) and that the book itself will be enormous. At 255,000 words, it will weigh in at an arm-breaking 0.92 kilos and run to 768 pages and 38 chapters.

This tome will be published worldwide at one minute past midnight, British Summer Time, on Saturday June 21. It's the shortest night of the year - "Is that significant?", aficionados are asking. It will seem so for the bookshops that are opening at midnight to sell what Bloomsbury reasonably calls, "the world's most anticipated book".

Speculation about its contents has been fuelled by the release of a series of tantalising snippets. At a charity auction, Rowling allowed a postcard to be sold on which she had written a series of one-word clues to the plot: "Ron, broom, sacked, house-elf, new, teacher, dies, sorry." It raised £28,680.

The first paragraph was unveiled in January: "The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive. The only person left outside was a teenage boy who was lying flat on his back in a flowerbed outside number four." All it gave away was that Rowling is perhaps overly fond of the word "outside".

We've been told, too, that we shall meet Mrs Arabella Figg, a neighbour of the horrible Dursleys in Privet Drive; that there will be a new sorting-hat song, a reappearance by Scabbers the rat, an explanation of why some wizards become ghosts; and that Dumbledore will explain "everything" to Harry Potter, who then has to choose between what is right and what is easy.

Many teenage readers who have grown up with Harry are hoping for something racier, too - specifically, a flirtation, as the hero's hormones kick in. Whether their cravings will be satisfied remains to be seen and every precaution is being taken to prevent security problems during the military scale operations involved in getting the books out.

Any day now, armed guards will take up their positions around a printing plant - most probably, Clays in Dorset. The presses will then work 24 hours a day for several weeks to produce a mountain of books. There must be no leaks.

Once printed, a million kilos of books will have to be stored before being distributed on the Friday evening to prevent secrets of the plot leaking out. Because of the size of the book, there will be only 12 copies per box, instead of the normal 36; for the bigger stores, which have ordered several thousand copies, that means finding space for a lot of boxes.

It will be tempting for retail staff to dip into a copy and leak details to the press, but any shop that breaks the embargo will immediately have a spell put on them by Bloomsbury and never be allowed to sell Harry Potter again. With a large chunk of their turnover at stake, bookshop owners have an incentive to be squeaky-clean.

At midnight, hundreds of bookshops all over the country will open for the sole purpose of handing over copies of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, many of which are being sold at way under the recommended retail price of £16.99 by chains who want a slice of the action.

The following day will be treated almost like a national celebration, to judge by the festivities planned by the Ottakar's chain of 94 shops. They are hiring owls from local sanctuaries and booking jugglers and magicians to entertain the children. They will also be giving away Harry Potter playing cards to the first few thousand buyers and launching a Wizard Quest competition.

Amid all this extravagant celebration, it is curious to think back eight years to J K Rowling's struggle to interest anyone in her idea for a series on a boy wizard. After a dozen rejections, Bloomsbury agreed on a £2,000 advance and her agent, Christopher Little, advised her not to get over-optimistic.

In 1997, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone slid into the shops almost unnoticed. Copies of the first edition (of which there are only 500) are so rare that one recently sold for £25,000. The second, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was eagerly awaited by those in the know but it was only when the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, came out that records started to be broken. When it shifted 64,000 copies in the first three days, it became the fastest-selling book in this country. The fourth, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which came out in 2000, beat that in a day, and this one will be far bigger still.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will be the longest children's book in existence, nearly equalling all three volumes of The Lord of the Rings put together. No other children's author could produce a book of this length and expect it to sell, but its audience appears undaunted. "More pages mean more revelations," says my 11-year-old daughter.

Financial analysts now estimate that Potter accounts for half of Bloomsbury's £68 million turnover and more than half of the company's £11 million profits: 195 million copies of Potter books have been sold, to date, in 55 languages and 200 countries, including Latin and ancient Greek. But the publishers are not alone in having reason to be grateful to the boy with the lightning scar on his forehead.

He has also vastly boosted the market for children's books, in particular fantasy books. "Our sales of children's books now exceed our sales of adult fiction," says Wayne Winstone of Ottakar's. "Children's books are now taken more seriously by publishers, and by the people who give awards."

The fortunes of Warner Bros have also been transformed by the Harry Potter films, as, of course, have those of the author herself. The 10 per cent royalty she receives from the books will have netted her £150 million; she also has one per cent of the films' box office and five per cent from the merchandising that is so extensive that it has been called "the Harry Potter tax on Christmas".

Nothing, it seems can go wrong. However, wizardry beyond even J K Rowling's capacity would be required to fit every eager Potter fan into the Royal Albert Hall. With every school in the British Isles allowed to apply for up to 50 tickets, that will mean that only 70 or so schools' names will be pulled out of the hat for the 3,500 tickets allocated to them. Since there are 35,000 schools in Britain alone, that will leave thousands of disappointed children. The lucky few - and the winners of the Ottakar's competition - will be the envy of all.

To live up to their expectations, Joanne Rowling may well have to make her entrance on a broomstick.


Starting on Monday: the Wizard Quest competition
Readers aged eight to 14 can take part either by visiting one of Ottakar's 94 branches or by collecting the questions that will be published every day in The Daily Telegraph from Monday to Friday next week. Winners will be asked to take part in a "wizard quest" at their local Ottakar's bookstore on May 31, where there will be games, puzzles and quizzes.

Then, 30 finalists (accompanied by a parent or guardian) will be chosen to compete in the final heat on June 20. This will take place at the medieval Alnwick Castle, used in the Harry Potter films - where entertainment will include jugglers, fire-eaters, magicians and a Hogwarts-style banquet and sleepover.

Each of the finalists will receive a bookplate signed by J K Rowling in a copy of her new novel, and of these 30, just five "wizards" will win £200 book vouchers and go on (plus parent or guardian) to the Royal Albert Hall event on June 26, where they will receive VIP treatment.
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Old 05-03-2003, 07:03 PM   #2
Kakero
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oh bother, I'm overage, I can't participate then. [img]tongue.gif[/img]
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Old 05-03-2003, 07:27 PM   #3
Jerome
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Join Date: January 8, 2001
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*mutters something about quality writing and stomps off into the distance*
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Old 05-03-2003, 08:01 PM   #4
Lioness
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Join Date: June 3, 2001
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jerome:
*mutters something about quality writing and stomps off into the distance*
*glares* [img]tongue.gif[/img] Philosophers...
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Old 05-03-2003, 08:07 PM   #5
WillowIX
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Join Date: July 10, 2001
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jerome:
*mutters something about quality writing and stomps off into the distance*
Want to borrow my old books from Uni? [img]tongue.gif[/img] Don´t you know that authors get paid by the number of words?

Is Harry Potter still this popular? I know Jackie has tired of him recently.
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Old 05-03-2003, 09:05 PM   #6
Tancred
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Join Date: April 1, 2001
Location: UK
Age: 38
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Quote:
Originally posted by Arvon:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will be the longest children's book in existence, nearly equalling all three volumes of The Lord of the Rings put together.
Holy crap! What... WHAT?!? And I thought Goblet of Fire was over-padded! *jaw drops* mother of GOD! Ok, I'm scared.

[ 05-03-2003, 08:07 PM: Message edited by: Tancred ]
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Old 05-04-2003, 12:29 AM   #7
IronDragon
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Join Date: January 16, 2003
Location: Michigan
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Quote:
Originally posted by Arvon:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will be the longest children's book in existence, nearly equalling all three volumes of The Lord of the Rings put together.
I may have to take a few extra days off work to read it.
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Old 05-04-2003, 01:00 AM   #8
The Lilarcor
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Actually, my LOTR, all 3 books, has around 1000 pages. 900 probably if all the explaining and such at the end about the languages is taken out.
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Old 05-04-2003, 01:04 AM   #9
Reeka
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Join Date: March 2, 2001
Location: Birmingham, Alabama, USA
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OK. I like them; I have read all of them; I am looking forward to this one. Padded? I like long books that give alot of detail. And personally, I think they are well written for their genre.
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Old 05-12-2003, 03:34 AM   #10
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I read the Wheel of Time books on a fairly regular basis, I think I can handle this one.
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