Harry Potter and the Last Hurrah

(Alert! The following post contains NO Harry Potter spoilers, you big cheater.)

Wildly popular products follow strict protocol when it comes to their release, typically on the order of extreme modern travesty. The seventh Potter novel is no exception: blindingly record-breaking numbers, waiting lines measured in city blocks, and mere internet spoilers spurring tens of millions of dollars in litigation. Cynics delight, and lawyers win again.

Harry’s fate notwithstanding, tonight rings in the last of the series, and a sample of the most popular Potter-themed domains reveals a flurry of online magical hoopla leading up to the anticipated moment. Ushered in by the movie release, its online attention has tripled in a month, chiefly shouldered by mugglenet.com.

Complementing this mountain of attention, the sites’ popularity below traces the most recent journey of the book series. The greatest spike around July ’05 is, of course, the release of the penultimate tome, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Notice, too, the pair of smaller spikes seen only in J.K. Rowling’s personal site . True fans will recognize these mark the date when the crafty Ms Rowling released the upcoming title to her adoring masses. If Scholastic, Inc. CEOs need any justification for authorizing the largest first printing in publishing history, just observe that the second exceeds the first by a considerable margin.

In perhaps the most outlandish Potter activity, a leading site chronicling the spells, potions, and everything kitsch on the Hogwarts campus consistently boasts the highest average stay, despite its relatively low visitor base. (Finally, a reward for spending countless hours poring over thousands of pages to furnish an unauthorized cache of Harry Potter minutia. Please, go outside now.)

How long does it take to master the summoning spell ("Accio!") and find one’s way from Gryffindor common room to the Dining Hall and out to the Quidditch pitch? About 9 minutes.

For the rest of us, the blur of the Harry Potter craze will fade soon enough. Until then, expect to see velvet capes and funny hats wandering the streets this weekend, and avoid the long lines winding outside your local bookstore. Remember, you can just plan to borrow the book from your friend next week, like me!

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