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Harry Potter Mania Comes as a Surprise (to Me)

Pre-sale crowds at Borders

Last week our friend GA (one half of the post-NYC Wonderduo) mentioned that she’d be working during our local Borders’ Grand Hallows BallBorders Books’ nationwide launch for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. GA said she and the rest of the store staff would be in Harry Potter cosplay, so we should drop by and have fun (at her expense). How could I possibly pass up the opportunity?

What I didn’t understand at the time was the city of Davis—in collusion with the Downtown Business Association (DBA) and one of our independent bookstores—was planning its own Harry Potter shindiggery. When Miss T and I hit downtown that evening, the place was teeming with Harry Potter fans and their parents, medical personnel (in case of fainting), police (in case of riots), and the media (in case of fainting and riots). The city closed down one of the streets for a block, set up an outdoor movie screen, and showed Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (the fourth Harry Potter movie). I was surprised and impressed by the city– and DBA-organized festivites.

Goblet of Fire plays downtown
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire plays outdoors on 2nd street (on the right)

Down the street, Borders and the surrounding mall shops were similarly overrun with Harry Potter ilk. Through the mass of various assorted wizards, witches, half-giants, and muggles, Miss T and I found our appropriately Hogwarts-outfitted friend GA, and our other friend Programmer Girl with three of her DAMENTO buddies in tow. What followed then was a complicated Borders ritual involving various-colored numbered wristbands and stickers; all designed to allow the fair and orderly sale of some 3,000 copies* of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Number 1100
Two hours after the sale began, Number 1100 (there were 1000 other reservations before the pink numbers) was just about to be called

The book officially went on sale at 12:01 a.m., and the book-buyers in our group managed to get through the cash registers sometime after 2:30 a.m. No word on when GA got off work and back home to her muggle-civvies. And later, some time after the sun had come up, I found that this Harry Potter book launch frenzy was not limited to Davis, population 60,964. Harry Potter devotees across the world were having an equally sleep-deprived Saturday after a night of book-buying-fueled revelry. Who knew?

If you didn’t stay up all night waiting to buy the Harry Potter book you can see a few photos from our escapade in Max Pictures’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows gallery.

*U.S. distribution of the book, the last of the seven Harry Potter stories, was 12 million copies. That’s a whole lot of Harry Potter to go around.

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