Thursday, February 01, 2007

The end of an era

The announcement that everyone has been waiting for has finally arrived: Harry Potter book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be published on July 21 (not July 7, or 7/7/07, as many people have speculated). The retail price will be a hefty $34.99, but Amazon.com is selling it for a huge discount, at $18.99. I'm not sure how Amazon.com is able to do that, but it's going to make it really hard for retail stores, especially independents, to compete.

Although I'm thrilled that the date has finally been set, I'm also a little sad. After all, this is the end of an era. Although it's been hard to wait for each new book, it's also been fun discussing and speculating on the books while waiting. In a way, we've been fortunate to have the opportunity to take part in a great community mind experiment that probably will never happen quite like this again. It's been a unique time in the history of literature, brought about by a fortunate confluence of events: the slow release of a rich series with plenty of fodder for speculation, and which appeals to both adults and children, occurring exactly during the explosion of the Internet and online social networking. Future readers will be able to go right from one book to the next, without taking the time to pause and consider and discuss. I personally think that they will have lost something.

I've been reading a book of speculation about the Harry Potter series and book 7, Who Killed Albus Dumbledore?: What Really Happened in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince? Six Expert Harry Potter Detectives Examine the Evidence, and I'll be posting a review of it in the next couple of days. If you haven't already, I recommend that you take some time and read this and/or one of the other books of theories about the Harry Potter series, discuss it with your family and friends, and participate in some of the online discussions. You'll never have this opportunity again.

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