I’ve been in Prague for almost 24 hours now. Here are the highlights so far:
- Finding a copy of LP’s Turkey 10 in a bookshop in the Frankfurt Airport. For some reason, the somewhat surreal experience of looking at my author photo and reading my bio in a foreign country thrilled me to no end.
- Stumbling across a bookstore in central Prague last night — it was sometime after midnight — and finding a large crowd of Czech teens waiting to buy the new Harry Potter book, which is supposedly the final installment of the series.
There was a newspaper photographer taking shots of the most excitable kids, who jumped up and down with glee after their purchase had been paid for and bagged. And of course there were a handful of hardcore Potter fans dressed up in wizard costumes and such. But the thing about this event that truly blew my mind was the realization that this exact same scene was being played out at thousands of other bookstores around the world. According to a story in yesterday’s International Herald-Tribune, the initial print run of the book was 12 million. That’s almost hard to believe.
Shouldn’t J.K. Rowling be given a MacArthur Grant for having encouraged such a huge number of children and teenagers to read? And that’s to say nothing of the fact that some of her books are nearly 1,000 pages long. Personally I think the woman is close to saintly.