San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

“Half-Blood Prince,” J.K. Rowling’s Birthday Coming Soon

HARRY Potter took the world bystorm with his first appearance in 1997 ina book titled “Harry Potter and theSorcerer’s Stone.” It was soon followed by“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”in 1998, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner ofAzkaban” in 1999, “Harry Potter and theGoblet of Fire” in 2000 and “Harry Potterand the Order of the Phoenix” in 2003.Now, Harry Potter mania has spread to thebig screen, and has inspired games, actionfigures, trading cards, Christmas ornaments,key chains, clothing and evencologne.The latest book in the series, “HarryPotter and the Half-Blood Prince,” or“HBP,” as it has already been nicknamedby Harry Potterites, will be released July16. Web sites and bookstores have preorderoptions with long lists of peopleeager to take Potter and his newest adventurehome.The series is now published in morethan 30 languages, and each book hasmade the New York Times, Wall StreetJournal and USA Today bestseller lists.After selling 3 million copies in the 48hours following its release, “Harry Potterand the Goblet of Fire” was named thefastest-selling book in history byPublisher’s Weekly.EVELYN Ugalde, director of theBook Club in San José, says she sees children’s“addiction” to Harry Potter as verybeneficial.“Children easily identify with HarryPotter and for a moment feel like magiciansthemselves,” she says. “Parents readthe books and it becomes something theycan share with their children and use to getcloser to them.”But most importantly, she says, “HarryPotter is a door for children to enter intoliterature. Children read thanks to him.”SEVENTH Street Books, an English languagebookstore in San José, is offeringpre-order sales of “HBP,” which thus farhas had a “very positive response,” accordingto co-owner John McCuen. The bookstoreis also offering a 20% discount off theretail price of the book.McCuen says the books sell very wellat his store, and that “the kind of responseHarry Potter has received happens onceevery decade in the publishing industry.”WADDY Borbón, a clerk at LibreríaUniversal on Avenida Central in San José,echoed McCuen’s sentiments.“There is great demand for HarryPotter books,” he said. “They sell a lot, topeople of all ages.”Borbón says he frequently hears pintsizedvoices in the bookstore saying,“Mommy, Daddy, I want Harry Potter!” Heexplained that there is currently no preorderlist for “HBP” at Universal bookstores,as it will not be available in Spanishuntil 2006.AUTHOR J.K. Rowling has won awide variety of awards for the Harry Potterseries, including “Author of the Year” atthe British Book Awards in 1999, a medalof achievement from the Queen of Englandin 2001, and Glamour magazine’s “Writerof the Year” in 2005.Rowling was a struggling, broke, singlemother living on public assistance inEdinburgh, Scotland, when she wrote thefirst Harry Potter book. Three years afterits publication in 2000, she was ranked thehighest-earning woman in Britain, accordingto the BBC’s Web site.Rowling’s 40th birthday is July 31, andUniversal bookstores, the Book Club andthe Harry Potter Companion Club are putting together a special giftfor the beloved author. Fansare invited to contributepoems, stories, cards, photographs,drawings or storiesto an album that will be sentdirectly to Rowling as a birthdaypresent. Contributions canbe placed in the marked boxesat Universal bookstores, emailedto, or mailed toApartado Postal 235-1017, SanJosé 2000.They can also be deliveredpersonally to the Harry PotterFestival July 16, in the FANAL building indowntown San José. The event will includeHarry Potter-related games, arts and crafts,magic tricks, debates, trivia, lectures andmore, and will take place 10 a.m.-6 p.m.Admission is free.All items for the albummust be submitted by July 17to allow time for translationsfrom Spanish, if necessary,and other preparations. Itemsmust be submitted in a sealedenvelope or folder and includethe contributor’s fullname, age, e-mail address,telephone number, occupationand, for kids, parents’names. A card that answersthe question, “How has HarryPotter changed my life?” isoptional, but can also beincluded with the submission.Submissions containing questions aboutRowling’s personal life or next book willnot be accepted.For more information, e-mail or, or call 305-6074.

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