Say it Ain't So, Jo!

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The millions of fans of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books might not be able to return to Hogwarts for new adventures until 2003. Rowling spokesperson Rebecca Salt told A.P. on May 9 that the author is unlikely to finish the manuscript of the fifth Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, until the end of the year. "It could be this year and it could be next year," she said.

Salt denied that Rowling was suffering from writer’s block, and her U.S. and U.K. publishers both held out hope that the pub date could be sooner rather than later. A spokesperson for Bloomsbury said the forthcoming book might still be published this year, and Scholastic noted that it expected to publish Order of the Phoenix in its 2003 fiscal year, which begins in June 2003, as reported by A.P.

Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was published in June 2000, and the wait for the next book -- despite the debut of the first Potter movie in 2001 -- has been a trial for young readers, their parents, and booksellers. Carol Chittenden, owner and co-founder of Eight Cousins, in Falmouth, Massachusetts, told BTW that her customers were indeed anxious to know a firm pub date. "It would be nice to have a definite end point," she said, adding that Potter-delay-induced stress would lessen in her store "if they could know when." -- Dan Cullen