New Potter book goes public June 21
Three years after 'Goblet,' here comes 'Phoenix'
(CNN) -- Mark your calendars: Saturday, June 21, 2003.
That's the day "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the long-awaited fifth volume in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, will be released, its publishers announced Wednesday.
"[Rowling] has written a brilliant and utterly compelling new adventure," said Bloomsbury Chief Executive Nigel Newton and Scholastic President Barbara Marcus in a joint statement.
The new book begins with the words:
The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive ... The only person left outside was a teenage boy who was lying flat on his back in a flowerbed outside No. 4.
Later in the novel, the statement said, Rowling writes:
Dumbledore lowered his hands and surveyed Harry through his half-moon glasses.
"It is time," he said, "for me to tell you what I should have told you five years ago, Harry. Please sit down. I am going to tell you everything."
An even longer work
The new book is 38 chapters and 255,000 words, more than one-third longer than the fourth book, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," the publishers said in a press release.
Given that "Goblet" clocked in at 752 pages in its American edition, this means that Book 5 is approaching James Michener -- or Dickens -- lengths. (The publishers apparently will reduce the size of the type; the new book is going to be 768 pages, they say. At least it will be in Britain, where "Goblet of Fire" ran 636 pages.) Michener's "Hawaii," for example, was a brain-fogging, wrist-breaking 500,000 words.
However, eager readers who gobbled up "Goblet" will probably be unfazed by another 60,000 words -- indeed, it's probably a bonus.
The first three Harry Potter books were released in the United States in 1998 and 1999. By the debut of the fourth book, "Goblet of Fire," at 12:01 a.m. on July 8, 2000, interest had risen to such levels that bookstores around the world were offering midnight parties to welcome customers. The Barnes & Noble in Minnesota's Mall of America transformed a section into "Potter Town" and other stores booked magicians and sponsored slumber parties.
The combined first printing in North America and the United Kingdom exceeded 4.5 million copies -- still a publishing record.
When a few copies of the book leaked in advance, its purchasers were besieged by media like the holders of golden tickets in the movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."
Potter has become a phenomenon perhaps unparalleled in the publishing industry -- and the entertainment business as a whole.
The four books have sold 80 million hardback and paperback copies in the United States alone. Worldwide, sales approach 200 million.
The first two books, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" ("Sorcerer's Stone" in the United States) and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," have been made into top-grossing movies by Warner Bros., a division of AOL Time Warner (owners of CNN.com).
The first movie grossed almost $1 billion worldwide, making it the second-highest grossing movie of all time after "Titanic." The second film, still in theaters, has made $772 million thus far.
Then there's Potter merchandise, which has brought in an additional $1 billion.
And all four books are still on the bestseller lists. They have all gone to No. 1, too. Many credit the books with sparking a resurgence in children's literature, leading to the popularity of the Lemony Snicket works, among others.
The Potter books have also been so popular they prompted The New York Times to establish a separate list for children's books, lest Rowling's works hog the top spots on its mainstream rankings.
Online retailers have been taking orders for the new book for months.
The book will be published in the United States by Scholastic and in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia by Bloomsbury. Both publishers have handled all previous Potter books.
And diehard fans don't have to worry that this is the last of the literary juggernaut of a series -- Rowling has said she will write two more Potter books.