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Counting Down to Midnight Magic!

Counting Down to Midnight Magic!

By Katie Volz

As many anxious fans count down the hours to the midnight release of the latest and final chapter of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, local bookstores arm themselves to greet fans with what will be the most highly anticipated, and heavily guarded, book in history.

In this, the week leading up to the release, boxes bearing the warning “Do Not Open Until July 21, 2007” have been arriving at bookstores and libraries in 93 countries. Each of these bookstores has signed a contract with the publishers of the Harry Potter books to comply with the strict security regulations. These security measures are an effort to preserve what Scholastic, U.S. publishers of the Harry Potter books, calls the “magic moment” when a reader opens the book for the fist time without previous knowledge of the book’s plot. In short, the publishers, and author herself, are determined to stop spoilers.

For the larger booksellers such as Borders and Barns & Noble, this means hiring security guards and quarantining their stock of the books. For smaller, independent bookstores, the onus of secrecy falls entirely on the proprietor.

Joel Tomlin, owner of Franklin’s Landmark Booksellers, still hasn’t received his stock of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

“Usually with a book like this,” Tomlin explains, “they’ll send it to us just a few days early. We have to sign a contract saying that we won’t release it until the approved day.”

Better security is not the only advantage to being a larger chain bookstore in what some are calling the “Summer of Harry Potter.” Because of their corporate resources, these stores and websites are offering discounts that independent bookstores simply cannot match. As a result, some small bookstores have opted out of carrying the final Harry Potter book because they will actually loose money if they offer it at a competitive price.

“Some places are selling them cheaper than I can buy them from the distributors,” says Tomlin. “We’ll have a few, but when people can buy it at Wal-Mart and Kroger for a discount, sadly they often do.”

While this competitive pricing seems unfair and almost excessive with no shortage of readers waiting to secure their copy at midnight, the larger chains no doubt view it as necessary to make their stock look more attractive to the average Potter fan.

 While Landmark Booksellers will have a select number of the standard hardcover edition of Deathly Hallows, they will be offering something that most large chains won’t.

“We’ll have some deluxe editions,” says Tomlin, “which are very nice collectors editions.” The Deluxe editions include a slipcase and extensive artwork by Potter artist Mary GrandPre.

Whether you have ordered your book online, plan to buy from a discount retailer, or can’t wait to get your hands on a deluxe edition from Landmark, thanks to the security efforts you will enjoy a magic moment when you open your new Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the fist time on July 21.

Looking for Midnight Potter Parties on July 20th? Here’s where to go in Franklin:

Barns & Noble in Cool Springs
Waldenbooks in Franklin
Borders in Cool Springs
Borders in Brentwood