Sunday, December 31, 2006

Catching up with HARRY POTTER

EDITOR'S NOTE: Shall we start this last day of 2006 with a really lovely picture? (yes, we SHALL)!

Editor's note: He's looking more and more like Roger Rees every day, huh?

Britain's postal service gears up for final Harry Potter book launch

December 29, 2006 (LONDON) - Britain's mail service is conferring with retailers and renting out hundreds of extra trucks in anticipation of the launch of the seventh -- and final -- installment of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.

The launch date for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" has yet to be announced, but the Royal Mail has already begun gearing up for the challenge of delivering the final volume to the hundreds of thousands of fans who are expected to order it before publication.

"We're already planning for the launch," Royal Mail spokesman James Eadie said Thursday. "We're talking to retailers about what volumes they expect, and what they expect from us, so that we can put the logistics in place to deliver on the date of issue."

More than 500,000 advance order copies of the sixth adventure, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" were delivered on July 16, 2005, in an operation that required some 150 additional trucks ferrying books to around 1,400 delivery offices across Britain.

While the number represents only a fraction of the 80 million items the Royal Mail delivers daily, the security -- and secrecy -- surrounding the work mean the books have to spend as little time as possible on warehouse floors, complicating their distribution. The 652-page "Half-Blood Prince" weighed in at just under 2.2 pounds, forcing postal workers into vans to avoid overloading their carrier bags.

The movement of the trucks is being coordinated in advance to avoid congestion and local post offices are also considering bringing in extra staff to deal with the overflow of books, Eadie said.

The climax of the Rowling's wildly popular fantasy series has coincided with the increasing popularity of Internet shopping, resulting in record-breaking numbers of same-day orders for a single item, according to the Royal Mail. About one in every 50 British households ordered a copy of the book last year, with one in every 18 addresses receiving a copy of the book in some neighborhoods.

Amazon's British Web site already lists "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" as its No. 1 book, based on advance orders. The title of the final Potter adventure was announced last week.


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