The third volume of the adventures of Harry Potter is a hot item. Mostly propelled by word of mouth among kids on both sides of the Atlantic, the first two Harry Potter books sold more than 750,000 copies.
"They absolutely adore it," said one mother. "They couldn't wait to read it. Children that don't normally read are reading."
One young customer described the book's appeal for her. "It's fantasy but it's quite realistic, also," she said.
Since the summer school holiday in England hadn't started by Thursday, bookstores were asked not to begin selling the book until after 3:45 in the afternoon. The publishers claimed they didn't want to tempt anyone to play hooky.
Parents came in to buy copies for children who worried that the stores would sell out.
The book's author, J.K. Rowling, has become a national celebrity. A single mother formerly on welfare, she has done much of her writing in an Edinburgh café.
"The book is supposed to be funny," explained Rowling. "A lot of the humor for me comes from this conflict between the magical, very subversive world, and the workaday world where people refuse to see what is right under their noses, which is that there are still wizards living everywhere, but in secret. It amused me."