Hordes of anxious readers, many of them children up past their normal bedtimes and many more costumed as their favorite characters, gathered at Borders Bookstore at Governor’s Square Mall Thursday for the midnight release of the seventh and final Harry Potter epic, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Borders was one of several local bookstores hosting “Potter Parties” — the Borders event was billed as the Deathly Hallows Ball.
Author J. K. Rowling lived up to her promise to end the series at seven books and did just that in this 749 page whirlwind conculsion, which is not without its tragedies and triumphs. (see review)
“It’s great to see so many people this excited about buying a book,” said teacher Helen Smith, from her seat near the magazine section. Her daughter Rebecca was one of the hundreds eagerly waiting to buy the $34.99 book at the proffered 40% discount. Rochelle LaPlante, sporting a bona-fide sorting hat and bouncing in anticipation, stood watch with friends at the storeroom door, eyeing the cases of books about to be rolled out to the front counter and sold. LaPlante has been counting down the days to the book release for month, checking off a calendar day by day since February.
The book release in England occurred six hours earlier, and local fans were heard cautioning each other not to “watch the news” or go online since the ending to this story was already being exposed around the world via internet and news. True fans want to live the story as it happens, without having the ending spoiled.
Costumes sported for the event ranged from the whimsy of the young Potter with the remarkable scar to the hooded mystery of the death eaters to the schoolgirlish charm of the Hermoine Granger character. Ministry officials, sorcerers and witches, Hogwart’s professors, and even a “Baby Harry” bundled in a blanket made appearances.
Borders personel did their best to keep up with the onslaught of readers, offering music by radio station Q108 and a series of games and trivia questions in tandem with costume contests. As the excitement built, it was not without stresses: insufficient seating for tired adults and the disabled, and a cafe overwhelm by patrons and scarecely able to keep up with demand for refreshments. Twenty minute waits to order beverages and twenty more to actually get an order in hand were not uncommon. Staff worked valiantly to keep up with demand, and there were no options such as the free “butterbeer” punchbowls that characterize many other bookstore gatherings. It was the only downside to the bookfest.
By 1 a.m., several hundred special and regular editions had been sold, and fans were already sitting curbside reading the opening pages, complimentary “Hallows” posters rolled up and tucked under their arms. Die-hard fans were even collecting the boxes the books came in, complete with their “do not open until…” labels.
Across Clarksville, bedside lamps burned bright well into the night as anxious readers turned page after page, following the heroes they loved through this last grand adventure.