Sunday, July 22, 2007

Should I be wild about Harry? Part II

As part of my new experience of the boy wizard sensation, I ventured out at midnight Saturday with my fiance to purchase the book.

We went to a Meijer in Fort Wayne, not a place I thought would draw hundreds of fans. Parties at the public library and local book stores received all the press. The pallet of books was in the back of the store, but the line had wound through the aisles to the front when we arrived at 11:50 p.m. It was a surprise when we first came upon the line. It looked like there were only a few people in line, but as we noticed it snaking around, I realized the full magnitude of it all. There were kids dressed as their favorite characters, complete with make-up and capes, and adults equally as excited in their street clothes.

Meijer offered a sharp discount on the book if a customer also purchased $30 in groceries, so we decided to shop first and pick up the book later. When we made it to the produce section, I could hear the countdown begin. There was the loud higher-pitched children's roar, indicating there were only seconds left, and then the count: 10...9...8..., followed by another roar. I waited to see the throngs of people running to check-out but no one seemed to be in a rush to get to the front of the store.

There was still a line when we made it to the book section, but it was much shorter and moving quickly. Because I am about eight years behind in my Harry Potter reading, I went to the display with the prior books to find a copy of book one, but they were all gone. People with the new release were buying paperback versions of the older books.

My fiance emerged with her copy and placed it in our cart. I was more interested in the ending that had been so anticipated, so I immediately turned to the last page (I was not alone in this practice. I saw another person reading the end.) I didn't get it, so I don't really think I ruined it for myself. But at least I can answer the big question -- Did Harry die?

As we waited to check out, it appeared several customers didn't care about the discount. They quickly purchased the volume at the self-checkout line and left.

An interesting experience for me. My question is: Will there ever be a series of books so popular that they warrant this kind of hype? Single books will always be popular. But can another seven-book series come along that warrants release parties, long lines and eight-year-olds going to a book store at midnight?

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