"Professor McGonagall, can you come to the front of the store?" asks the message on the public address system at the Barnes & Noble in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood.
The Hogwarts headmistress is very much needed. As of 5 p.m., a line of about 40 people has formed at the front of the store. The visitors are waiting for wristbands, which will allow them to return at 8 p.m. for the Potter festivities the store is planning, including psychic readings, a costume contest and a magic show. More important, the wristband-clad will be able to buy copies of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" at 12:01 p.m., still more than six hours away.
The line is made up of teenage girls, middle-aged fathers with young children, the occasional twentysomething -- Potter readers. In other words, pretty much everybody, demographically.
Everybody with a wristband will be able to purchase a book, but that hasn't stopped a trio of girls from comparing numbers.
"I'm 98!" one says.
"I'm 123," a second says, slightly dejectedly.
The third girl looks on triumphantly.
"I'm 90," she says.
Ah, but who will finish