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The Independent Culture

The first printing of the new Harry Potter novel in July will be a staggering one million copies. Solely for the UK market, it sets a record. Bloomsbury is keeping launch plans under wraps to increase the impact. It is known that Harry's hormones have now kicked in, and an injection of teen angst perhaps explains why the book will be twice the length of the first three volumes. Meanwhile, Chris Columbus, who directed Mrs Doubtfire (also adapted from a children's book, by Anne Fine), has been named as the director chosen to make a film based on J K Rowling's first two novels. Warner has set a provisional release date of next summer, by which time a ton of Harry Potter merchandise will be rolling off the production line.

It's not too often that publishers get portrayed in movies, but the cigar-smoking Michael O'Mara, publisher of Andrew Morton's Diana: Her True Story, will shortly be seen on celluloid. He will be played by Brian Cox in a film about the writing of that book; Paul McGann will portray the author and Faye Dunaway a British journalist. Filming of The Biographer has already begun and producer Christian Seidel is promising "new revelations".

It has come to this: HarperCollins has repositioned the much-delayed memoirs of former Tory Chairman Sir Brian Mawhinney on its religious list. Publication of In the Firing Line is in July and, by August, the volume will doubtless be going cheap at a remainder emporium near you. Will it outsell Sir Norman Fowler's memoirs, whose sales figures plumbed new depths?

One political memoir that may perform quite well is that by former LibDem leader Paddy Ashdown. The ex-Marine has signed with Penguin for two volumes of autobiography; the first will be published later this year. Ashdown will be working with Stuart Proffitt, who famously recited Victorian poetry with another of his authors, one Margaret Thatcher. Ashdown will be telling all - about his private life, and his power-sharing negotiations with Blair.