My daughter, Emma, is twelve, and an avid reader of fantasy. Would you care to take a guess where we were at midnight?
Like millions of other people around the world, we were standing in line at a bookstore waiting on our copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
We left the house around 11:00 p.m., and drove into town to try out the Harry Potter experience at a locally owned bookstore called Nightbird Books in less than twenty minutes.
I had concerns about the bookstore as a venue because it has less than a thousand square feet of floor space, and feared that a crowd of any size would be too much for a small space. Fortunately for us, the store owners had the good sense to move things outdoors. When we arrived, there were roughly 200 people milling around the parking lot listening to a local band, checking out vendor tents, and watching a sizable bonfire in a drained fountain.
We took a pass on the barbecue stand and tarot reading tent before settling on The Leaky Cauldron - a vendor tent ran by three teenage girls selling Jones Soda with Harry Potter themed names. I bought a Granger Green Apple, and moved over toward the bonfire (It was too hot of an evening to get close) where we killed a few minutes before going inside the store.
There were no signs nor anyone giving directions, so Emma had time and motive to pick out an additional book before I figured out that we could pay for the Harry Potter book before midnight. Thankfully, there was no line at the register because nearly everyone else had already bought their copies before we arrived. The clerk handed us a glow ring with a Deathly Hallows sticker on it as proof of purchase, and we went outside to stand in line with a mixed crowd of young families, teenagers, middle-aged couples, twenty-somethings, and a small army of tweens and children complete with accompanying adult.
It was 11:44 p.m. A munchkin death eater strolled around in the grass, while the line continued to grow.
A few minutes later, a store employee pulled up in her SUV and began unloading boxes of books. This elicited a small cheer from the front of the line. More cheers followed for what I can only assume was the unpacking of the first box. I attempted to eavesdrop on surrounding conversations; Emma read her vampire book by glow ring light.
At 11:58, Emma snatched my cell phone away to track the final minutes. In the final seconds, the front of the line counted down to zero. Yet another cheer came from the front of the line. Then silence. A few seconds later, three tween girls dressed in private school costumes and Hogwarts ties ran screaming and skipping for the family car waving their books in the air.
The line moved quickly, and by 12:07 a.m. we were pulling out the parking lot with book in hand, and headed home. It is now 1:22 am. and Emma is 25 pages in and barely acknowledging anything outside of the book. If she can keep the current pace, I may actually get my hands on it by the middle of next week.
UPDATE - Sunday, July 22, 4:00 p.m.
Ha! Emma ran out of steam, and I let the book set on my desk in the office until 3:00 p.m. yesterday before asking her to allow me to start reading. I even offered to let her have it back at any time. I am now finished with the book.