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Fans queue early for new Harry Potter book
By Louisa Winkler in Beijing and Zou Huilin in Shanghai (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-07-18 05:32

Committed Harry Potter fans showed how desperate they were to get their hands on a copy of the latest instalment of the saga on Saturday, rising early in the hope that they would be first in line to buy the new book, the sixth in the series.

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," the most recent J. K. Rowling adventure, has just been published across the world.

By 6 am queues were forming in Beijing outside the Wangfujing Bookstore, the Foreign Languages Bookstore and Xidan Book City, which all opened at 7 am - the time of the simultaneous global launch.

Most customers were middle school or young university students.

Chen Zhaolun, 20, came all the way from Hebei Province to buy the novel at the earliest opportunity.

The fact that it is written in English does not bother him at all, he said. He has avidly devoured the first five parts of the series, and has been eagerly awaiting the new release.

In Shanghai, Yao Yiling, a second grade student at Weiyu Senior High School, was an early bird at Shanghai Book Mall, one of the two venues in the city selling the book.

As the first person in what was a long queue, he arrived at the book mall at 5 am after getting up at 3 am.

Yao lives in Baoshan District, which is at least a one-hour bus ride from the book mall.

Yao admitted that he is an enthusiastic fan of Harry Potter. "I love Harry Potter's adventurous spirit and the team work between him and his friends."

In the long queue in Shanghai, which numbered about 200, one-third of the people were parents and even grandparents who are not Harry Potter fans, but whose children or grandchildren definitely are.

Jing Xueli, 77, who was probably the oldest in the queue, was lining up to buy the book and give it as a gift to his grandson, who is a second grade student in junior high school.

Jing said: "My grandson loves the series very much and he is an eager learner of English."

The grandfather wants to motivate his grandson to learn English by buying him the book, a desire shared by most parents in the queue.

Within an hour of opening on Saturday morning, most bookstores had sold more than 100 copies.

Both the British and American versions of the novel are on sale in Beijing. The content of the two versions is exactly the same; they differ only in design. The American version is slightly larger, with a more muted colour scheme.

Sales of the Chinese translation of the novel are expected to far outstrip the English-language version in Beijing, and many children are looking forward to its release in September.

Why has Harry Potter been such a success in China? Hebei student Chen believes it comes down to escapism. "It's a fantasy novel, full of magic," he said.

(China Daily 07/18/2005 page2)

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