Saturday, July 08, 2000

Kids snatch up Potter book

By Jim Knippenberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Jamie Moore, 9, of Batavia walks away happy after buying her copy at Barnes & Noble in Kenwood.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
| ZOOM |
        Bookstores braced themselves. Kids wiped sleep from their eyes. Parents swigged coffee. And a little guy named Harry Potter made cash registers sing 'n' ring at midnight.

        Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Scholastic, $25.95), fourth in author J.K. Rowling's massively popular series on wizard-in-training Harry Potter, went on sale at 12:01 this morning.

        Potter frenzy has been building for months, ever since Scholastic announced the July 8 publication date, then tried to keep everything else secret. Even the title and jacket design remained a mystery until they were leaked early last week.

        The frenzy grew to such a pitch that Scholastic made the decision to go with a 3.8 million first press run, unprecedented in the world of children's books (10,000 is considered a large run).

        Also unprecedented in the world of kids' books is the length: A staggering 734 pages.

        At the Kenwood Barnes & Noble, where sealed crates were stacked at the door until midnight, 9-year-old Andy Hopkins, in full Harry Potter garb, insisted he was going to read in the car on the way home, because he wants to find out who gets killed, whom Harry falls in love with and what happened last summer.

        His sister, 10-year-old Laura, was planning to read the moment they got home, and so

        was mother Mimi Brickson, of Clermont County, who admitted “we're having a family war over who gets the book first.”

        By 11 p.m., the store was elbow to elbow, with kids and parents alike wearing round Harry Potter glasses — they were freebies — and carrying brooms for the flight home.

        By midnight, when the countdown began, the line looked like the kind of line you see only on the day Jimmy Buffett tickets go on sale. By now, the line numbers were above 300.

        Glenn Martin and daughter Sara, of Madeira, were first in the line for reserved copies.

        “Yes, as soon as I get home, I'm gonna start reading,” Sara said. “I'm an EMT, I've been up since 5, but I'm gonna read it until I'm finished. At 734 pages, I guess I'll be up a while.”

        Jane Donnelly, of Anderson Township, was first in line for non-reserved copies. She was getting books for her 11-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter.

        “I think, yeah, they'll read them very quickly, at least within a couple of days. I'm sure they will start tonight, as soon as I get home with the books.”

        Randy Ellis, of Clermont County, wasn't going to wait until he got home. At 12:03 a.m., he was leaning against a bookcase, nine pages into the book.

        “Something bad's gonna happen, something really bad to Harry, but at least I've got the book and I'll be finished by tomorrow.”

        Jeff Shaul, of Kenwood, reserved his copy two months ago. He is hearing-impaired, and was in line with a friend who was translating for him.

        “Yes, if my mom lets me, I'm gonna read as soon as I get home. I've been waiting a long time to get my hands on this.”

        Bookstores all over town, eager to accommodate the demand and appease the frenzy, closed at their usual times, then reopened at 10:30 or 11 p.m. with Potter parties to keep the kids busy until sales could begin.

        • At Barnes & Noble's Deerfield Township branch, staffers spent the early part of the week hunched over a computer dreaming up trivia games and word searches, then stuffed a jar full of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans (they used jelly beans and told the kids the yellow ones were earwax flavor) for a guess-how-many contest.

        • At Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Norwood, a Harry Potter imitator had kids doing double-takes, then joining him for photo ops.

        • At Borders' Eastgate location, staffers dressed in Harry Potter costumes and handed out noisemakers that the kids loved and that parents, well, tolerated.

        • At the Blue Marble, Fort Thomas, owner Tina Moore had friends brewing up butterbeer — a rich, hot drink Harry sips with friends — and mixing oatmeal in a huge black cauldron for a 6 a.m. breakfast today.

List of today's Potter parties
Test your knowledge of Harry Potter
Glossary of Harry speak
'Harry Potter' artist adds magic touch
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