Harry Potter extravaganza at Armchair Books 

Sixth book in series to be released at midnight July 15

All the witches and wizards in Whistler will be out Friday, July 15 for the latest release in J.K. Rowling’s wildly popular Harry Potter series.

The book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth installment in the series, is due to be released July 16. However, Armchair Books is just one of many bookstores planning to open its doors a little early to welcome children and their parents for a special celebration.

Armchair Books will open at midnight on Friday, July 15 for the release, allowing Whistler's Harry Potter fans to get a taste of the new book early. The bookstore threw a similar party, which was well attended, for the release of the fifth book Harry Potter and the Order of the Golden Phoenix in 2002.

"We started having people lining up in the hallway here… the lineup started about 9:30 and it grew," said Dan Ellis of Armchair Books. "People rifled through once we opened the doors and picked up their copies. Some stayed and some didn’t… but lots of people stayed. Our floor was basically covered with people."

There will be cake and refreshments, and children and adults alike are encouraged to dress up in their best wizard’s gear. Alix Nicoll will reprise her role from the release of the fifth book by reading the first chapter of the newest Harry chronicle. Ellis said of Nicoll: "All those people who attended last time… they were just enthralled. She’s so animated. She’s got the perfect English accent for it."

Sales of the book are expected to be astronomical, the Golden Phoenix sold more than 6.8 million copies in its first printing and similar figures are expected for the Half-Blood Prince . Pre-ordering has been heavy ever since the release was announced six months ago. There are two editions of the book, one with a traditional children’s cover and another designed for adults. Armchair Books has ordered more than 300 copies of the children’s edition and 80 copies of the adult edition. Ellis said they already have 79 reservations and he expects as the release date draws nearer that those numbers will increase.

The highly anticipated book takes up Harry’s story for his sixth year at Hogwarts. Fans have been waiting breathless to hear more of Harry’s adventures since the release of the fifth book where some startling revelations about Harry’s past were revealed. However, very few details about the newest book in the series have been made available prior to its release. Rowling has only gone as far as to state that the half-blood prince is neither Harry nor his arch-nemesis Lord Voldemort. That’s all the hints Harry Potter fans will get until they hold a copy of the next book in their hands on July 16.

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