millionth cup of midnight tea

Yes, it is Harry Potter Release Day, which means you and yours are probably slathering at the bit to get your grimy little midnight hands on Harry Potter V. On behalf of my friend Jessica and all of the other hapless dreading bookstore salesclerks in the world, I'd like to wrest this day back from Mr. Potter and Ms. Rowling and declare it the Official Be Nice To Salesclerk Day.

I slipped by the local Books-A-Dozen on Jessica's tip to pay for the little piece of paper that means I won't have to stand in line to buy the latest of Mr. Potter's escapades. Instead, all I will have to do is park the car (possibly a challenge), walk to the door (only a challenge if I forget my contact lenses) and toddle up to the line that says "Exchange Slips For Books Here."

Barring unforeseen forgettings of contact lenses or unfortunate and accidental poking-out of eyes after parking, I suspect this shall not be difficult.

Now getting a smile out of the clerk...that will be a bit more difficult. As far as I can tell, virtually every bookstore employee is absolutely dreading tonight's Sale-O-Rama. From chatting with the employees at Books-A-Dozen, they confirmed what Jessica said a week or two ago: everyone, and I do mean everyone, has to work tonight. Every lane open, every employee doling out the Potter as fast as the fans can fork the cash. At midnight. When what they really want to say is "Hi, welcome to Books-A-Dozen, will you please go home so I can get some sleep now?"

"But," you say, "I haven't read Harry Potter."

I said that a lot too. Sometime after the fiftieth (or was it four-hundredth? All the beatings have flowed together in my mind) friend beat me over the head with the books and said, "Look, we know you hate riding along with pop culture just because it's pop culture, but these books are actually good and you should read them," I gave in.

The first night, I read the first book.
The second night, I read the second book.
The third book took a little longer.

The fourth book went with me on a trip to Arkansas, which, by my memory, puts it at Thanksgiving of 2002. I stayed up late at night each night until I finished the book, scanning and flipping pages with an urgency and absorption that astonished me after I finished the book; as soon as I put down the fourth book, I wanted the fifth.

Multiply this by a couple of years and a few million people, and suddenly the terror-of-customers shining in the bookstore-employees' eyes is a little more understandable. They've already realized that they're the only people standing between the slathering reading hordes and the immense fines and sundry punishments their stores will face if they "break the date" and sell the book early.

(Scylla, have you met Charybdis?)

After all, I've never heard of bookstores doing book release parties before. I find this prospect so weirdly amusing and entertaining that I'm sorely tempted to take my camera with me to Books-A-Hundred to document the carnage after I claim my book.

After, not before. I'm a pragmatic girl. I want my book too, you see.

* * * * *

After I read the unfinished Potter series, someone asked me what I thought about them, and if I thought they'd ever be classified as "literature." I had several answers - "Yes." "No." "Possibly." "Only time will tell." - before my real answer emerged.

Books whose ideas and storylines are absorbed en masse by a society, no matter the quality of the writing, will be studied and examined in years to come to learn more about the society that produced the work. Quality, on the other hand, will be argued about for as long as the book is read, with some arguing that books intended for mass consumption, no matter how entertaining, cannot be classed as literature. The other side will show up armed with hardback copies of Dickens and beat their foes with them.

It doesn't matter if the Potter books will be eventually classified as "literature" or not. No matter what, these books will be studied to understand what it was about them that caught the fancy of millions.

What matters more is the act of reading itself.

So, before you pile up on the millionth couch with the millionth cup of midnight tea made tonight, remember to be nice to the salesclerks who are selling the book to you. Not only are they dealing with overexcited people during hours they don't normally work, they're also dealing with more of them in thirty minutes than they usually see in a day.

Be nice. Chances are good they'd rather be home reading the book, too.


Two words: Amazon preorder. It's guaranteed to arrive the day of release (tomorrow); it's at least as cheap, if not more so, than any store will have it; and best of all (for some of us), no crowds. =) I went through pretty much the same process getting the Potter bug. I resisted for the first three, but after hearing "but it's really good" enough times, I finally caved in and now I'm hooked. (I'm not especially fond of the movies though.)

-grins- I'm SO happy I preordered my copy. You I won't have to move my ass to get the book, barely. I just sit at the front door and wait for the nice delivery man. Muahahaha. -grins-

I have not caved. I am strong like bull. [But then I don't like fantasy. Sue me, I've been reading history.]

I empathize with those cashiers. First, I spent the latter part of high school working weekends at the local convenience store. Everyone should have to work retail at some point in their lives. It makes you a much nicer consumer. More to the point, though, I spent the summer after my freshman year of college as a cashier at a regional discount clothing retailer in my home town. Once while I was working there, I had to work the closing shift for what they called their "midnight madness" sale. That meant that at about 10 PM, everything in the store suddenly went on sale for something like half off the marked price. At about 5 minutes before the start, you could just see them out there getting ready to pounce on us. When the time came, it felt like those movies that show opening bell at the NY stock exchange: calm to utter chaos in 4 seconds flat. They stopped letting new people in the door at midnight. It took another hour after that to clear the 8 or so register lines. At peak, pretty much all the lines went halfway to the back of the store. Granted, that's not as bad as what's going to happen to the Books-A-Googolplex cashiers tonight, but I do feel their pain.

I must be the only person in the world who abhors the Harry Potter series. Guess I'll watch a movie tonite. Enjoy, rest of the world!

It's an excellent reminder, actually, and I confess, I am both excited and dreading the arrival of the book tomorrow a.m. Excited because I'm sure it will be good, and dreading it because it will be over all too soon, with another long wait for the next. Did you ever see the movie Reuben, Reuben with Tom Conti? He plays a ne'er do well poet who hasn't written a word in years and makes his living lecturing to book clubs and mooching . One of the book club people takes him out to dinner and her husband touts the benefits of this speed-reading program - the poet just looks at the guy and says "I would pay someone to teach me to read slower." I love that line.

Donna, that's a fantastic line. It sums up why I have so many books right now, and why I constantly fight the urge to buy more. I read fast. Obnoxiously fast. Most books that aren't horribly complex are over for me in a matter of a couple of hours. I wish I had a way to prolong the magic, to let me stay in the state of captivation and fascination that comes from delving into a new world for the first time. I reread a good bit (oddly enough, Matthew and I were talking about rereading books on the phone last night) but it's never the same. The same magic just isn't there. The world is familiar, and some of the wonder is lost. /me is thoroughly book-hooked

I have to wonder if any of the Harry Potter fans have also read the original doozy-of-a-cliffhanger series. The Belgariad series by David Eddings had to be one of my favorites in middle school. Only the first three books were out when I started reading it and none of the books "wrap up nicely." Eddings has a gift for placing the climax of what you THINK is the main plot about 100 pages before the end. In those last 100 pages, something disastrous usually happens and you have to start the next one to find out how THAT plot twist works out. Jennifer Roberson did the same thing to me with her Sword Dancer series. I cried, screamed and yelled at how the second book ends. Thank goodness at the time the third had already come out and was sitting in the pile on my dresser.

I have not read the books, but I believe the proper term for my ilk is "muggle". Kids reading ... good. Adults reading kids books ... still better than those adults reading trashy romance novels. Kids reading trashy adult romance novels ... setting unrealistic expectations for future relationships Kids watching porn ... pretty much the same as those trashy novels Kids downloading porn ... future server administrators

I thankfully have timed this one about perfectly. At the moment, I am around half-way through book four. Read book three in Jamaica a few weeks back. Jessica's reading book three right now too. So give me another week or so and I can with much leisure go pick up number five and read until I am content. (unless of course Jessica catches up with me an pressures me for the book)

I'm going to be in line at a bookstore tonight, partly to see what it will be like, and partly because, of course, I want the book! I read book 1 before it was a hype, so I don't have too feel too guilty about hopping on a bandwagon.And besides, I rather like the fact that this is about a BOOK, not a movie, or an event, but an actual book. WIth all the talk about children spending too much time in front of the TV/Playstation, this is about a book....

I didn't really even hear about Harry Potter (or at least pay attention to the hype) until I saw someone reading Book IV. "Eh, I should check those out", I thought to myself. The first book I borrowed from my mom. She bought it to see what the fuss was about and, when I read it, she hadn't yet. Several months later, my friend Keir borrowed it from my mom, gave it back to her and said "YOU HAVE TO READ THIS." and now my mom loves the series, of course. The second book I borrowed from my sister. "But brother, I'm not done yet." "Don't worry, I can finish it before I go back to Houghton." "Okay, but you've gotta promise not to tell me what happens." "No problem." When I got back to Houghton, I checked out the third and the fourth books from the library and finished them that day. I'm still deciding whether or not I should get it on opening night, as it were. But the thought of driving to the city, trying to park, and trying to beat down 12883957973826593 soccer moms for my chance at maybe getting a HP book doesn't thrill me at the moment. I don't know any kids that are old enough who will be getting the book, either. (Then I could borrow it and read it while they sleep.)

Well, if you go to you'll see that I did indeed go and get a book opening night. One of my neighbors had me masquerade as them so I could pick up their pre-ordered copy (so they don't have to make an extra trip to the cities tomorrow). I get to read it, they get it when I'm done. (They're only part way through book 3, so I can take as long as I want. Yeah, right.)

I'd like to add a heaping cup of "Amen" to this post ;) it is now 6:47 am and I am still up. We left the store around 3:15 am (looking marginally more like a store than it had at 12:30), and I came home to begin the book. I have not finished the book yet, but something dreadful happened which is leading me to put it down for the time being. Like the rest of the free world, I'd heard that one of the characters died in this book. I was being very careful as I read not to jump to any conclusions, though I already had my suspicions and I was girding myself for the worst. When I'd gotten about halfway through the book I idly tried to flip to the last page to catch the page number and see how far along I was, but inadvertently hit a slightly earlier page and my eye managed to fall on two simple words which completely wrecked my reading of the book for now. If it's ridiculous to cry like a little girl for ten minutes over a character in a book, then call me ridiculous. Oh, and here's a hint: repeating "it's only a book" over and over to yourself won't help at all. Blef. I'm going to sleep now. Will finish the book sometime when I'm less tired, and therefore less emotional....... (anyone who wants to email me when you've finished so we can commiserate would be welcome)

Starlady... you gotta hate it when that happens. Just think of the work shift as early training for DragonCon. Suzan

boy oh boy..I do hope you bring your camera! ;)

Not getting the book until Friday the 27th - then plan on staying up all night reading it :) I really REALLY felt sorry for everyone having to work at midnight. That was one good thing about working at a mall store - we were NOT open at midnight for IV. Yeah, I'd love to not speed read sometimes. I miss too many details...