As Harry Potter fans await their hero’s fate, bookies are already betting he’s a goner
MWilliam Hill Plc, a London-based bookmaker, is so sure of Harry’s demise that it stopped accepting wagers and shifted betting to the possible killers. Lord Voldemort, who murdered Potter’s parents, is the most likely villain, at 2-1 odds, followed by Professor Snape, one of his teachers, at 5-2.
“Every penny was on Harry dying, and it became untenable,” said Rupert Adams, a William Hill spokesman. “People are obsessed about this book.”
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, goes on sale July 21 with a retail price of $45. It’s published in Canada by Raincoast and in the U.S. by Scholastic Corp. Advance orders put the book at the top of online bookseller Amazon.com’s bestseller list eight hours after Rowling announced the title Dec. 21.
Rowling, 41, caused a stir among Potter fans when she said two characters will die in the new book. The six earlier novels about Harry’s adventures at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry have sold more than 300 million copies, earning Rowling a $billion fortune and making her wealthier than Queen Elizabeth II.
“It’s gonna be huuuge,” enthused The Leaky Cauldron, a website devoted to all things Harry Potter. “It’s the end, and every last plot string has to be tied up.”
Rowling has refused to give any clues about which characters will be killed off. Writing on her website last month, she asked people not to spoil the ending for fans by speculating about the outcome.
“I want the readers who have, in many instances, grown up with Harry, to embark on the last adventure they will share with him without knowing where they are going,” she wrote May 14.
Fans of the books who gathered at London’s King’s Cross train station, where Harry takes the train to Hogwarts from the fictional platform 93⁄
4, said they didn’t want the bespectacled hero to die.
“I love everything about Harry Potter,” said Daniel Jones, 12, of Cambridge, England. “They can’t kill Harry; he’s the best character in the book.” illions of children and adults are waiting to learn the fate of Harry Potter in the seventh and final novel of author J.K. Rowling’s series. Bookies are certain Harry’s a goner.
The station has marked the spot — located near the real platform 9 — with a baggage cart that appears to pass through the wall, mirroring the method wizards use to access the station.
“I think I’ll cry if he’s killed,” said Becky Nickurak, an 18-year-old from Alberta, who had come to King’s Cross specifically to see the display and spent 15 minutes taking photographs with her friend.
Across town at Piccadilly Circus, Shaun Jennings had no affection for the teenage wizard.
“I hope Harry Potter does die in the final book,” said Jennings, a 19-year-old from East London. “I’ve never seen any of the films and never read any of the books, and I don’t intend to either. It’s just drivel.”
Booksellers have mixed feelings about the end of Harry Potter. While the previous volumes reached No. 1 and spawned movies and computer games, supermarkets and online sellers are offering discounts of 50 percent or more on advance sales of Deathly Hallows. As a result, bookstores don’t make money on Potter sales, said Tim Godfray, chief executive officer of the Britain and Ireland Booksellers Association.
Philip Wicks, owner of two bookshops in Yorkshire, northern England, said the discounters charge less than he pays distributors for the book. Since he can’t compete on price, he plans to open his stores at midnight the day the book goes on sale and hire a magician to entertain waiting shoppers.
Rowling will mark the publication with a midnight reading for 1,700 invited fans at London’s Natural History Museum.
While the books are ending, the films aren’t. The fifth movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, distributed by Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros., premieres June 28 in Tokyo.
The first four films, starring British actor Daniel Radcliffe in the lead role, grossed more than $3.5 billion in ticket sales, according to website Boxofficemojo.com. Warner Bros. will open a Potter theme park at Florida’s Universal Orlando Resort in 2009, the companies said May 31.
Seeing Harry Potter in two more films may ease the disappointment for fans of the book such as Erin Nault, 18, who also made the pilgrimage to King’s Cross.
“I’ll miss the excitement of getting a new Harry Potter book,” said Nault, standing near platform 93⁄
4. “Once you start reading, you just can’t put it down.”