Harry Potter


"Harry Potter the bestseller -- at 21 hours"

by Paul Majendie (Reuters, April 2, 2001)

LONDON - Parents of Harry Potter fans can now look forward to 21 hours of peace and quiet.

A marathon audio recording of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" went on sale Monday with advance sales already topping one million pounds ($1.42 million) in Britain alone.

The book is read by British comedian Stephen Fry who said of the JK Rowling sagas: "Reading Harry Potter books out loud is more fun than I feel a single human being could ever deserve. It's like swimming in chocolate."

The literary love affair is mutual. Rowling said of Fry: "He has a very, very attractive voice. It's quite patrician but there's a touch of anarchy that is just right for the books."

Rowling, whose tales of an intrepid teenage wizard have sold 90 million copies in 43 languages, has produced a Potter book every year for the past four years.

At 636 pages, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" is by far the longest in the series.

Each new audio book is proving equally popular. "This time it's the biggest order we have ever had and advance sales have topped one million pounds," said Helen Nicoll, director of the publishing company Cover To Cover.

"This is something extraordinary that is spreading worldwide," she told Reuters. "What is really thrilling is that people just want to go on listening."

But Harry Potter fans face a wizard-free 2001.

Rowling has been busy overseeing the first Harry Potter film, supervising merchandising deals and writing two special short stories for charity.

Christopher Little, Rowling's literary agent, said: "She is working on book five and it is ready when it is ready. I think we would be looking at a 2002 publication date."

Potter fever has gripped children around the world with the publication of each new book about his rumbustious childhood at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry -- and the tapes are enthusiastically received each time.

Previous Potter titles caused bookshops to open at midnight as children queued eagerly for books delivered in security vans.

Rowling waved her magic for Bloomsbury Publishing Plc whose profits rose by 120 percent last year. It hailed "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" as the fastest selling book in history.

After their annual profits climbed to 5.8 million pounds ($8.3 million), Bloomsbury Chairman Nigel Newton said: "Harry Potter is a long-term asset that will continue to generate significant earnings."

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Children's Edition, Unabridged 6 cassette set), J.K. Rowling, Stephen Fry (Narrator)
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