Booksellers' Potter Promo Plans Percolate as Order of the Phoenix Pub Date Approaches

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Now that the June 21 release date of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is just days away, booksellers are making their last preparations for the industry's equivalent of grabbing a chamber full of golden snitches. Here's our final report on booksellers' plans to celebrate J.K. Rowling's latest, including story-writing contests, owl adoptions, goblets of butterbeer, and a midnight bazaar.

Some booksellers are foregoing the midnight madness and are opting instead to begin festivities on Saturday morning. Burke's Book Store in Memphis, Tennessee, will begin its Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix party at 9:00 a.m. serving breakfast and offering giveaways and prize drawings for various Harry Potter items, including a handmade, striped scarf knitted in Gryffindor colors by Burke's owner Cheryl Mesler. The store is charging $29.99 for the book and will be donating 20 percent of sales to the Memphis Literacy council.

Mr. McGregor's Garden, a children's toy and bookstore in Fort Wayne, Indiana, will also be having a Harry Potter breakfast for the benefit of younger clientele. The store will open at 8:00 a.m. on June 21 and has invited customers to dress as a Potter character and take a seat in the great garden dining hall. Wizard Jim Barron will perform his amazing magic! The cost will be $4 per child and with every purchase of Order of the Phoenix shoppers will receive a $10 gift certificate.

Westwinds Bookshop in Duxbury, Massachusetts, will offer a Potter breakfast at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday for those who can't stay up for the store's party that starts at 10:30 p.m. the night before. Westwinds will transform the Duxbury Marketplace into Diagon Alley where, after food, games, and music, muggles and wizards can queue up on Platform 9-3/4 to prepare for entrance into another Harry Potter adventure.

However, the majority of booksellers who have contacted Bookselling This Week are starting their Harry Potter parties late Friday night.

Sarah A. Cuadra, owner of The Storybook Garden in Weslaco, Texas, will have a 10:00 p.m. Order of the Phoenix festival including costume contests and food. All attendees will receive a pair of glasses similar to Harry's. At the stroke of midnight, store staff will start selling the book.

Burnt Toast Books & Toys of Collingswood, New Jersey, is presenting a Midnight Muggle Madness Party on Friday night. The entire block in front of the store will be shut down for a bazaar featuring music, butterbeer, Honeydukes Sweetshop-inspired items, and trivia contests.

In Willits, California, three lucky Potter-o-philes will walk away with an Order of the Phoenix audiocassette at the Leaves of Grass Bookstore's raffle at its 1:00 a.m. party on June 21. Rani Saijo, owner of Leaves of Grass, decided to let customers either buy Rowling's book at 20 percent off cover price or donate that percentage to their school's library.

Other booksellers are also choosing to discount the $29.99 cover price by 10 or 20 percent. Olsson's Books & Records, with stores throughout the Washington, D.C. area, will be discounting the book by 20 percent at all its locations. Three Olsson's stores will stay open Friday night, June 20, and will be ready to sell the book at one minute past midnight: Olsson's in Alexandria and Arlington, Virginia, and Olsson's in Bethesda, Maryland. The stores will have food and trivia contests.

Rivertown Bookstore in Portland, Michigan, is having a store-wide sale with 10 percent off everything purchased during its party, which will run from 9:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. on June 21. Staff will be serving chocolate frogs, the requisite Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans, and bubbling punch.

Books 'N More in Wilmington, Ohio, is offering a 20 percent discount on preorders with the possibility of an additional discount percentage if won from the "Goblet of Fire." Hagrid will be in attendance with pet Fang, and the Glen Helen Raptor Center will be displaying live owls to be adopted.

At 10:00 p.m. on June 20, Octavia Books will make some magic in New Orleans, Louisiana. Frank Levy, renowned theater wizard, will lead participants through a variety of Potter-centered activities. The program includes readers dipping into the sorting hat for discovery of each participants wizard name and a hilarious interactive "instant" theater experience with the young readers in the audience playing all of the roles. "We wanted to do something a lot of fun and memorable," said Octavia owner Tom Lowenburg.

Some booksellers are maximizing the Potter promotional potential by extending the festivities beyond Friday night and Saturday. In Brooklyn, New York, Bina Valenzano of the newly opened BookMark Shoppe has invited readers to a Harry Potter costume party and trivia contest on Friday, but she's also sponsoring a Potter story-writing contest. Each story must be related to Harry Potter in some way, and entries will be displayed around the store. At 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 22, the winner and runner-ups will read their stories aloud.

Terry Dallas of Armchair Books in Pendleton, Oregon, is also lengthening the Potter fest. "We decided an event of this magnitude deserves another promotion," said Dallas. Armchair's having, in addition to the Order of the Phoenix pajama party and book sale at 12:01 a.m. June 21, a "Harry Potter Sidewalk Extravaganza" on June 16. Readers can claim a section of sidewalk in front of the bookstore and draw their favorite Potter character.

All told, each participating bookstore is celebrating what has become a Potter tradition, while also individualizing it and contributing something festive to their communities.

To read more about booksellers' Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix promotion plans, go to and --Karen Schechner