July 20, 2007

The Harry Hurry

I decided to work off-site at my local Panera this morning, something I promised myself I would do now that I work from home -- but hadn't yet done in the three months I've worked at BlogTalkRadio. The coffee's great and the breakfast is reasonable; it cost me about the same for a refillable large coffee, a bagel, and a large orange juice as it does for the Starbucks raspberry mocha frappucino to which I've become addicted recently.

Barnes & Noble has a store in the same shopping center as Panera, and I was initially surprised to see a line running about 100 yards outside the door as I drove past it. I had not realized that people would start lining up for the release of the last Harry Potter novel, but there has to be over a hundred people -- and the book doesn't get released until tonight, after midnight. I have a hard time imagining why people would line up at midnight to get a book of any kind, and I certainly can't imagine why they would line up 15 hours before it can even be sold.

I'm not going to gainsay the Harry Potter phenomenon. I enjoy the books and am looking forward to reading the last installment. I already have my book reserved at the same store, and I had hoped to pick it up tomorrow morning on the way to the NARN show. I may come back tonight at midnight with a video camera and see the circus for myself. If I'm plagued by insomnia, I may have a YouTube broadcast here. Check back in the morning.

What do CQ readers think of the Harry hurry? Let's have a little fun, and take a completely unscientific poll:

UPDATE: I'm back home now, but I did stop at the Barnes & Noble to see what was happening. The line was to get onto the reservation lists at the last minute. By the time I got there, the lines had disappeared, so I confirmed that my name was still on the list. I then got a wristband for their costume party tonight, which starts at 10:30 PM, and an assignment to the color group that will get called first at 12:15 AM to retrieve their books.

If I'm up that late, I have to get some pictures and video of this. I think I'll come as a Muggle tourist ...


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Comments (37)

Posted by MaaddMaaxx | July 20, 2007 10:55 AM

Ed, check your code. Survet Saaayyys...can't conect to server.

Posted by Strick | July 20, 2007 10:57 AM

You missed an option. We ordered ours online and it should be delivered tomorrow.

Of course, now I wish I had ordered it from DeepDiscount instead and got it Tuesday, but...

Posted by kimsch | July 20, 2007 10:59 AM

I had to choose:

I will make a valiant attempt to buy the book this weekend

from the above list because you didn't have the choice:

I pre-ordered my copy from Amazon and the post office will deliver it tomorrow.

I've done this for the past few books in the series.

I think the urge to be first for something that will be around is kind of dumb. Camping out and waiting in line is so Star Wars...

Posted by G. Mitchell | July 20, 2007 11:10 AM

I have no interest in Harry Potter books. I had the impression they are for the younger generation which I left long, long, long ago. If they are a diversion for adults, that’s fine. At any rate if they help get young folks interested in reading that is a good thing. However, to paraphrase something that W. C. Fields purportedly wanted on his tombstone, on the whole I’d rather they were reading things like Feynman’s Lectures on Physics. I haven’t read all of them but when I do get time to sit and read a topic I find it gives me an excellent grip on reality. At lot of folks seem to be losing that grip lately!

G. M.

Posted by Immolate | July 20, 2007 11:15 AM

Most people's opinion of Harry Potter is based either on ignorance or the movies. While the movies are entertaining in their own right, they are a pale and sickly reflection of the magic of the books. After watching the film adaptations of the Lord of the Rings, I'm not accepting the old "it can't be done" excuse any more. If they can capture the fairytale quality of the Shire and Rivendell, they can capture Hogwarts.

The only thing I can think of that so effectively transported me into a world of child-like delight as Harry Potter has done would be "The Hobbit". If people can stand in line for Xbox's and iPhones and for Greatful Dead concerts, then I can't imagine any objection to them standing in line for a book that culminates a series as priceless as this one has been.

Posted by coyote | July 20, 2007 11:20 AM

I saw a bunch of teenagers lines up at Barnes and Noble yesterday. At first I thought it was nuts, but then I reconsidered. We have many reasons to worry about teens in our modern society, but having them wait in line to buy a book is probably not one of them

Posted by Casey Tompkins | July 20, 2007 11:31 AM

I second Strick's comment. I pre-ordered my copy a while ago on Amazon, and got an email notice last night that it should be here Saturday.

Love the books, but no way in heck I'm going to stand in line at midnight for something I can get at the local Kroger's (cheaper) a week later..

Besides which, alas, more and more local bookstores are closing down. We used to have a huge Little Professor's bookstore in the local mall, but they shut down several years ago. :(

Posted by Kim Priestap | July 20, 2007 11:33 AM

I pre-ordered mine months ago and am expecting it in the mail tomorrow. Yay!

Posted by Sean Hackbarth | July 20, 2007 11:44 AM

Back in the "old days" (only a few months ago) when I worked at a bookstore they finally got smart and issued tickets during the day to stop some of the camping out. But there were still some who didn't believe the process and insisted on staying for hours to be the first to get the book.

Good for them even if I couldn't finish the first book. I too am thinking about going to a nearby Barnes & Noble to watch the hoopla.

Posted by Some Stupid With A Flare Gun | July 20, 2007 11:46 AM

When I'm in the mood to read fiction I just read the Boston Globe or NY Times editorial pages.

Posted by roc ingersol | July 20, 2007 11:58 AM

I'd be more confident of our country if they were standing in line to get a new Steven Pressfield release but beggars can't be choosers. Reading is a good thing.

Posted by David Ferguson | July 20, 2007 12:27 PM

The HP movies are as good as the HP books. That's because the books are lightweight and written with a movie in mind. No comparison to LOTR. It took 50 years to make the LOTR movies. It took 50 minutes to make the HP movies.

The HP books are fun to read and enjoyable, but literature they ain't. They are enjoyable because the author has come up with a relatively original story and setting. We are amazed and appreciative because we are starved in today's age of sequals and PC garbage that seems like a genuine accomplishment. Those books are also, likely, the last piece of British pop culture that will ever make an impact on the world. The next mass media event that Britian turns out will likely be Islamic in tone.

Posted by Ron C | July 20, 2007 12:51 PM

Good grief... these books were written for kids, and worse, are full of mythical magic crap.

Posted by LarryD | July 20, 2007 12:55 PM

Read 'em, enjoy 'em, but I can wait until the crush is over.

With movies, I generally wait for two reasons. One, so I can hear the word of mouth about it, which is more reliable than the critics, reviewers, and the teasers.

Two, I have a second run theater in my area, so I can watch for several dollars less, if I'm willing to wait.

Posted by crossdotcurve | July 20, 2007 1:05 PM

Good grief, it's a kid's fantasy book. Although I suppose it's fitting for the non-reality-based community. Here's how it ends. Don't click if you don't want to know:


Posted by meep | July 20, 2007 1:07 PM

I pre-ordered at Amazon, too, but for Half-Blood Prince they screwed up my delivery and I didn't get it til the next Wednesday (but then they gave me some money back, so I was okay with that).

Even if that were to happen again, I'd wait for my book to show up. I don't feel like standing in line.

And yes, the books are lightweight (for all their physical heft), but so was Agatha Christie, and I enjoyed her books too,

Posted by M. Simon | July 20, 2007 1:15 PM

Muggles was a slang term for marijuana in the 30s and 40s.

Posted by edncda | July 20, 2007 1:23 PM

Seems to me a lot of Americans thought the Beatles music was the work of the devil or some such. Until they invented elevator music that is.....

I'm inclined to think that Harry Potter is another great British invention - at least as good as the Beatles,..... if only because it's impossible to turn a book into elevator music - I hope.

Personally, I believe that one of the greatest challenges we all face in our lives is to retain even a sliver of childish innocence in the face of everything that purports to make us "grown-up" - as if being "grown-up" is necessarily desirable and commendable.

Good for kids everywhere, whether they be 8 or 80.

As for the comment that it's full of "mythical magic crap" rothflmao!!
If enough people see it that way, maybe Harry Potter will progress beyond cult status and become The New Religion of the 21st Century!

Posted by daytrader | July 20, 2007 1:25 PM

These are the same people who have Iphones and Ipods.

Resitance is futile we will assimilate you. 

Posted by daytrader | July 20, 2007 1:28 PM

Ok I got a word wrong in the last post.

Sue me!

Posted by Cindy | July 20, 2007 1:35 PM

G.M. As the concerned parent of a child in the age range that these books are aimed at, I had to read them to make sure that they were age appropriate. I read the first one and was instantly HOOKED. I actually had read books 1-6 before the Junior Logician did because he didn't discover a "love" of reading (something his mother definately has) until this past school year.

We put a deposit down on a copy at the local evil box store (starts with Wal and ends with Mart) and the Junior Logician and I will be there tomorrow morning to pick up our copy.


Posted by mike | July 20, 2007 1:41 PM

You left "I'm waiting for the movie" off of the list of choices.

Posted by Naman | July 20, 2007 1:43 PM

I don't know why people are lining up at bookstores since it's being sold in my area by grocery stores, Wal-Mart and even Best Buy!

I have enjoyed reading the series, but this queueing business is a bit ridiculous.

Posted by James I. Hymas | July 20, 2007 1:47 PM

The Harry Potter series is superb. I read some commentary last week suggesting that it is too early to tell whether it's a classic or not - but I've made my mind up. By me, one of the three iconic pieces of children's literature in the last hundred years (the others being C.S. Lewis' Narnia series, which I can't stand any more because the religious imagery is too intrusive [but I didn't even notice it way back when!] and the various E.E. Nesbitt works, which I don't like any more because the kids are too much in need of fearsome lecture [but at the time ... !]).

Harry Potter's great! There's good, there's evil, there's conflict! Let's face it, in most of the pap served up to unsuspecting kids nowadays, Voldemort, Potter & Dursely would have reconciled in chapter two and spent the rest of the book discussing bullying.

There will be an extravagant promotion in Toronto that I'm going to drop by on my way home tonight.

Hey - this is one of the truly 'once in a lifetime' events!

Posted by EMalachi | July 20, 2007 1:48 PM

Wow, being a fan of HP automatically means membership to the non-reality-based community, eh? Nice of you to immediately sum up and dismiss such a large group of us like that.

The line I waited in was not for last minute preorders, but to get a wrist band which would be my place in line to get the book at midnight. I am glad they did it this way, because at least now I'll get the book fairly early. If not, by the time I'd get out of work tonight I'm sure there would be a line several hundred deep before I even arrived.

I plan on pulling an all nighter and seeing how much of the book I can finish before Monday. ^.^

Posted by TW | July 20, 2007 1:50 PM

LOTR movies? Bleah. No way those are even close to the quality of the experience of the books.

I gave up on the Potter books after the third one because the plot is always the same. Kids discover something is going on but won't tell the adults what it is, while getting into and out of easily escapable escapades, then the big bad guy shows up at the end and is easily vanquished. ZZZzzzzzzzzz

But I understand the attraction of the zoo of the long lines.

Posted by LA | July 20, 2007 2:24 PM

I do enjoy the Harry Potter books (and the movies, although the movies really don't have the better amount of background/detail as the books), and ordered mine for delivery tomorrow. But the only reason I ordered early for this one (I only borrowed and read the other six), is because I want to be able to read the FINAL story, BEFORE too much gets out about the plot that I can't avoid because of all the spoilers just from ordinary news and/or conversations of the people around me.

It's absolutely ridiculous that the NYT got away with publishing a detailed review before the book was even available to the public. It's bad enough trying to avoid the spoilers AFTER it's out there!

Look what happened with the ending of "The Sopranos." If for any reason you'd missed the show when it first aired, if you hadn't taped and watched it within 12 hours, you were sunk, because there was talk about the ending everywhere you turned and you wouldn't have been able to enjoy the ending (assuming you'd been interested in the show)!

Anyway, the books are actually pretty entertaining even for adults, and heck, it helps me keep up/have something to talk about with my young neice, who's a virtual Harry Potter groupie. (Besides, as a teenage girl, I actually looked pretty much like Hermoine - wild hair, enjoyed school, avid reader - so I guess it's an identity issue, as well. I'm sure a shrink would love to have a crack at my warped brain!)

Here's to Harry and all the Gryffindors!

Posted by LA | July 20, 2007 2:28 PM

Oops - "niece".

Posted by Robin Munn | July 20, 2007 3:22 PM

TW - It's too bad you gave up after the third book, because the fourth book is, well, just a little bit different than the plot synopsis you just described. Just to name one example, the bad guy isn't quite so easily defeated as all that, not in book four. In fact... but I don't want to give anything away. I'll just say that if you thought the books were settling into a formula by the end of book three, you'd have been quite surprised by book four.

Posted by Robin Munn | July 20, 2007 3:24 PM

Incidentally, the poll didn't have the option I needed to choose: "Can't afford to buy it, but will borrow it as soon as my friend, who's buying it at midnight, finishes reading it. In other words, probably sometime Saturday around noon."

Posted by Alfred Terr | July 20, 2007 4:10 PM

I am going to one of two places to buy my book and avoid the crowds. Either Wal-Mart or my local grocery store since both sell books and are open 24 hours. Both stores also are not having the festivies of Borders or Barnes and Noble. I will be in and out of the store in a few minutes and drive by the Borders and their long line of people trying to get their copy.

Posted by Random Numbers | July 20, 2007 4:36 PM

I pre-ordered months ago. UPS has my copy and should deliver it in the morning.

Posted by Joshua | July 20, 2007 7:00 PM

I never quite caught on to Pottermania, mainly because there's only so many hours in a day and while the Potter phenomenon was ramping up, I got my sci-fi/fantasy fix mainly from Star Trek and Star Wars. By the time both of those franchises went into dormancy in 2005, I would have had too much catch-up Potter reading to do in too little spare time, so I decided to pass. [For the same reason, I never got into other recent sci-fi book and movie series like Battlestar Galactica and the two (now just one) Stargate series.]

I also find it amusing that for all the hype this book has gotten, in the end Harry Potter might end up being upstaged by another worldwide pop culture icon who also has a major event scheduled for the very same day. (Or at least, that was the plan. Maybe he's just looking for an excuse to get the day off to read the new Potter book. :)

Posted by Cindy | July 20, 2007 7:35 PM

Robin - LOL about your friend. That is the thing that is driving me nuts. I know if we got the book at 9am, I would be done reading it by midnight! The Junior Logician.....I will actually have to wait a couple of days for him to finish it....


Posted by J. Otto Tennant | July 20, 2007 7:46 PM

About the only benefit I get from government (setting aside police and fire [and fire could be done privately]) is the local library.

I am #648 in the queue for Deathly Hollows. I do not know how many copies the library is buying, but the wait is tolerable.

The #6 book, in my opinion, was disappointing and I actually don't look forward to #7. (#1, for the first third, was poor; it then got better as did its sequels up to #6.)

Posted by dixie68 | July 20, 2007 10:11 PM

My grandson's copy was pre-ordered from Amazon months ago and should be here tomorrow. It is great to have the young folks reading.

Posted by km | July 20, 2007 10:16 PM

Our local store took pre-orders and issued numbered wristbands through out the day - after midnight, lowest band goes to the front.

The daughter will be there to pick it up and hurry home t read it through before someone hits her with a spoiler. She has been offline with cell phone off to avoid (another) inadvertent spoiling (like for an earlier book).