Harry returns in a blaze of hype

YOU MIGHT be forgiven for thinking that Salman Rushdie's latest Booker-tipped epic will be the publishing event of the summer. But you would be wrong.

The real buzz in the book world concerns the new adventures of a small bespectacled orphan who, any child will tell you, is the son of famous wizards. On 8 July, the third volume in the acclaimed Harry Potter series arrives in Britain's bookstores.

Thousands of youngsters - and, more surreptitiously, many parents who have proved equally charmed - can barely wait.

"We get letters every day from children asking when the new Harry Potter is coming out," said a spokeswoman for the publishers Bloomsbury. "There is strong loyalty."

The Harry Potter books, written by divorced single mother Joanna (J K) Rowling, have become the children's publishing sensation of the past two years.

Sales of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and its sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, have passed 500,000. Booksellers are confident the phenomenon will continue with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Ms Rowling, 34, of Edinburgh, has won the Smarties Book Prize (the children's equivalent of the Booker) two years running and missed the 1998 Whitbread by a whisker. And Warner Bros has snapped up the film rights to the first two books for a seven-figure sum.

The success has taken Bloomsbury from 20th position in the list of top children's publishing imprints in the second quarter of 1998 to 10th place in the second half.

Contributing to the sales are the special "adult edition" of the first book, published in a stylish black and white cover with orange lettering, so that adults who have fallen for the beguiling tale can read it without broadcasting the fact.

An adult edition of J K Rowling's second book will be published alongside the hardback third, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, this summer.

Analysing the sales data, the Children's Bookseller magazine said: "For high street booksellers in the UK this has been the year of Harry Potter." Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was, it added, the "star at the top of the children's bestseller lists".

The books' eponymous hero is an orphan forced by cruel relatives to live under the stairs until his 11th birthday, when he discovers he is the son of famous wizards. Enrolled at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he learns magic and fights off the evil Lord Voldemort.

In the new book in the planned series of seven, Harry's adventures pitch him against Sirius Black, "possibly the most infamous prisoner ever to be held in Azkaban fortress".

In advance publicity, Bloomsbury is describing the publication as "the publishing event of the summer" and is anticipating such interest that a special collectors' cloth-bound edition is being prepared.

Even librarians consider the books a welcome addition to their shelves. Sue Roe, of the Youth Libraries Group of the Libraries Association, said: "They're very good. We certainly stock them - there's no question of librarians not stocking things that are popular.

"They're a good read because they combine a mixture of things," she said. "They're really quite an old-fashioned boarding school story, but with magic and fantasy and wizardry. They've got a lot of things that appeal to a lot of children."

The date of Harry Potter the third was inscribed on her memory. "It's 8 July, isn't it? You see, I'll be reading it as well."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'