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Potter-mania sweeps bookstores

The magic begins for two young Potter fans in London.
The magic begins for two young Potter fans in London.

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Retailers are welcoming the release of 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.' CNN's Greg Clarkin reports
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CNN's Deborah Feyerick reports on the tight security surrounding the new Harry Potter novel
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(CNN) -- The wait for Harry is finally over for thousands of fans that queued to snap up the fifth and latest book of J.K. Rowling's phenomenally successful Harry Potter series.

With a yellow, blue and red cover, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" went on sale at the stroke of midnight in Britain Saturday (2300 GMT) and cash registers have been jingling since, with much of Europe, Asia and South Africa joining in on Potter-mania.

The tome was selling like hotcakes, CNN's Richard Quest reported from a London bookstore early Saturday, with fans -- who had endured a three-year wait for the next Harry Potter installment -- buying not one or two copies, but three or four each.

"I love it so much I get goosebumps," 12-year-old Lisa Brummett, from Mesa, Arizona, said who waited four hours at the WH Smith shop at King's Cross rail station in London, The Associated Press reported.

"Harry Potter is the most magic thing there is," Lisa told the AP, clutching the book to her chest. "Once I get out of here, I will start reading and will probably be through by the time we get to the hotel."

Potter fans queued outside book stores in countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand early Saturday to be among the first to read the 800-plus pages that forms the latest in the adventures of the boy-wizard.

Europe and Asia got a headstart on the U.S. Many bookstores across the United States are planning Friday night parties, and a countdown is scheduled in New York's Times Square. The book is released at one past midnight Saturday in the U.S.

Rowling's new novel has been released amidst unprecedented publicity and hype. Thirteen million copies have been published and distributed around the world -- meaning the latest book is also set to break publishing records as well as records for items ordered on the Internet.

Almost 200 million copies of the first four books have been sold, having been translated into 55 languages in 200 countries.

All things Potter

In the three years since the last Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" was released, author J.K. Rowling has married, had a second child and become richer than Britain's Queen Elizabeth.

Meanwhile, Hollywood has released movies based on the first two books, 2001's "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" ("Sorcerer's Stone" in the U.S.) and 2002's "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," both of which have become two of the biggest box office successes in history. The third movie, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," is currently in production.

But Harry has remained a child in the new book. Now in his fifth year at Hogwarts school, Headmaster Dumbledore sits Harry down to tell him "everything."

And a major character dies.

Malaysian readers queue up at a store in Kuala Lumpur Saturday.
Malaysian readers queue up at a store in Kuala Lumpur Saturday.

The latest installment will be first book in the series to be printed with a colorful cover for children and a different cover for adult readers.

"All of us have the capacity to be enchanted and I think probably there is more acceptance of an enjoyment of children and of being childlike in our society today," psychoanalyst Marilyn Mathew told CNN.

Security surrounding "Phoenix" has been tight. Retailers signed agreements not to put the book on sale early. But that hasn't stopped intrepid muggles (as non-magical folks are called in the Potter books) from trying to get their hands on a copy.

In early May, two copies were found dumped in a field in eastern England. They were suspected of being stolen from a nearby printworks and eventually returned to the publisher.

But more than 8,000 copies were stolen from a trading estate in Merseyside, northwest England this week (Full story)

Scholastic is publishing 8.5 million copies of the new Potter book for the American market -- the largest first printing ever.

A sizable percentage of the books has already been spoken for.

Amazon.com's Potter Meter, which keeps tabs on the number of orders to the Web site, had exceeded 770,000 by Thursday -- and that's just for American orders. Throw in sites internationally, and the company has taken more than 1 million orders.

Almost 200 million copies of the first four books have been sold, having been translated into 55 languages in 200 countries.

-- CNN's Todd Leopold and Richard Quest contributed to this report


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