Harry scary: Potter finale hits stores

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 29, 2007

ASHLAND, Ky.— Jan Cooper, of Pedro, paid a visit to Waldenbooks at the Ashland, Ky., Town Center and walked out with a popular piece of fiction: “Deathly Hallows”, the latest in the Harry Potter book series.

“I reserved it and if you pick it up today, you get a discount,” she explained as she paid for her book. Actually, it’s not her book, it’s for her daughter, Kelsey Cooper, who had to work today.

“She’ll start reading it tonight and then read it every chance she gets,” Mom said. “She has all the other books.”

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Behind her in line, David Marsters of New Albany, Ind., waited to get his Harry Potter videotape.

“I have all of them,” he said. Is he hooked of Harry? “Absolutely,” he replied. “I don’t believe Dumbledore is actually dead and I want to find out where the other horcruxes are.”

Waldenbooks had Harry Potter displays in both windows and a selection of Potter memorabilia beside the cash register at the checkout stand.

Brandon Fyffe, who works at Waldenbooks, said sales were strong at midnight Saturday when the book went one sale and was steady throughout the day.

It was the same story at the Wal-Mart Super Center in Burlington, where employees handed out wrist bands and offered Potter fans pieces of a themed cake while they waited to get their books.

“We did well. There were a lot of people waiting her last night for the books and sales were steady for what we had left,” assistant manager Chris Perkins said.

Neither store would give actual sales figures, but Rowling’s books have sold 325 million copies in 64 languages, and ‘‘Deathly Hallows’’ has a print run of 12 million in the United States alone, and Internet retailer Amazon says it has taken 2.2 million orders for the book. Britain’s Royal Mail says it will deliver 600,000 copies on Saturday; the U.S. Postal Service says it will ship 1.8 million.

Security for the launch was fist-tight, with books shipped in sealed pallets and legal contracts binding stores not to sell the book before the midnight release time.

Rowling, who a decade ago introduced her magical character in ‘‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,’’ was giving a midnight reading to 500 competition-winning children in the grand Victorian surroundings of London’s Natural History Museum.

Now richer than the queen, she sat in a large wing-backed chair and read the opening pages — description of a mysterious assignation, a clandestine meeting and important news for Voldemort.

But despite pleas from Rowling and leading fan sites, spoilers sprouted on the Internet in the days before the release, including photographed images of what turned out to be all 700-plus pages of the book’s U.S. edition.

The Associated Press contributed to this story