The residents of Shanghaiist’s apartment building, especially those with hammers and drills, wake up at 5 a.m. on most Saturday mornings. But we’re assuming this past weekend they all did so to stand in line to buy the English version of the new Harry Potter book — everyone else in the friggin’ world did.
The Shanghai Daily said “hundreds of students” were lined up outside the Shanghai Book Mall on Saturday for the 7 a.m. start of sales. By yesterday afternoon the store had sold some 900 copies. Not bad, considering the book is definitely not cheap by local standards (RMB 198 for the American version and RMB 178 for the British version) and pirated editions will no doubt soon find their way to Wujiang Lu, if they’re not there already. You can buy the first five books in the series on Shanghai streets for around RMB 50. (Bootlegs of the new one are already on the internet.)
The People’s Daily reported that a 20-year-old traveled all the way from Hebei Province to Beijing just to buy one of the first copies of Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, an act that in America would have no doubt resulted in this guy getting duct taped to a flagpole. The paper also spoke to a rather precocious second grader in Shanghai, who got up at 3 a.m. to leave his Baoshan District home in time to get in line at 5 a.m. “I love Harry Potter’s adventurous spirit and the team work between him and his friends,” the boy said. (Does anyone else get the feeling that these papers make up about half of their quotes?) Despite being RMB 20 more expensive, Shanghai readers reportedly preferred the American version, which is ridiculous. Just think of all the superfluous “u”s they could have got for less money in the British version. The Chinese version, the official one at least, should hit stores in either September or October — the two papers disagreed about the date.
The few reviews of the book Shanghaiist has read appear to be positive and there are already several reader reviews, as well. Don’t these people watch the British Open? Or maybe they listened to Harry Potter while watching golf on mute.
Photo by AFP.