John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

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Harry Potter -- NO SPOILERS!

Hello! I'm back. Not that I really went anywhere... it's just that I've spent most of the last forty-eight hours submerged in the depths of Lake Harry Potter, and I've only just recently resurfaced. It's all good though.

Friday night we had a big Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows release party at the store. We had a couple of arts and crafts stations set up, where people could design bookmarks and decorate magic wands. We played Harry Potter Pictionary -- my idea, ripped off from inspired by boliver's Buffy Charades -- and learned in so doing that it's not so easy drawing the Fountain of Magical Brethren or U-No-Poo. (The kids were delighted by my toilet-oriented attempt at the latter, though.) Volunteers from the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia brought in several owls, including a wee little Northern Saw-Whet Owl that looked just like Pigwidgeon, and gave an on-going presentation about owls and what their organization does to help them. Another local outfit called Critters and Creatures brought in several different kinds of snakes, a rat, a baby acromantula tarantula, and some lizards. (I got to handle one of the corn snakes. Cute little thing.) And there was a costume contest (won by a delightfully dour Delores Umbridge impersonator) and a raffle (raising money for the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia, who otherwise donated their services), the winner of which got a Harry Potter watch, some posters, and the Harry Potter standee we had at the front of the store counting down the days to the release date, and four different trivia contests, the winners of which got to be first in line to get the book at midnight). All in all, we had about 600 people in the store, including several former employees I was very pleased to see, and our very own selannia.

And then at 12:01 AM, the book went on sale. Now, the bookstore chain for which I work does something very clever whenever a new Harry Potter book comes out: instead of taking reservations, we sell vouchers that can be exchanged for the book when it finally comes out. We started selling the vouchers in February; we sold our last one at about 11:59:50 Friday night. So by the time the book officially went on sale, everyone in our store, and in all the other stores in the chain, had, in effect, already bought the book. So the customers handed us the vouchers, we scanned them to ensure they were valid, and handed them the books. Since we didn't have to spend any time waiting for credit cards to be approved or make change, we were able to distribute more than 450 books in less and 30 minutes. Meanwhile, the rival store down the street (I won't say which one, but it starts with B) still had a line stretching out the door as late as 1:30 AM. Haw!

As it happens, I still ended up staying at the store obscenely later anyway -- computer problems, plus it took quite some time for the animals wranglers to pack everything up -- but at least I wasn't spending all that time dealing with customers. I heard anecdotally that customers at one large bookstore in suburban Maryland had up to a four-hour wait to get their copies! Anyway, IT finally fixed our problem shortly before 4 AM, and shortly after that I was out the door and home in bed.

Saturday afternoon I was back in the store for the closing shift. I didn't do much reading of the book prior to that: only through chapter 10. Saturday was quite busy; we were still redeeming a lot of pre-sale vouchers, of course, but apparently we (meaning my chain, not just my particular store) were one of the few outlets to still have copies of the book available for sale to the general public, so we were doing brisk sales to people who hadn't prepurchased. In fact, I was told by my DM that by 5 PM Saturday, the company had already sold more copies of Book 7 than we did of Book 6 in its first week. Yow. A number of people asked if I had finished the book yet; I told them that I hadn't, but that I'd looked at the last page, and found out that the book had been typeset in Adobe Garamond. I'm so amusing!

After work, I was tired and didn't feel like trying to concentrate on the book, so after watching the end of the movie Dave on AMC -- I love that movie -- I went to bed without reading any further. I know! Some Harry Potter fan I am. But I arose at nine AM, refreshed and ready to read, and powered through the rest, finishing up around 1:30 PM or so. And it was good! More on that later, though.

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