"The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive. ... The only person left outside was a teenage boy who was lying flat on his back in a flowerbed outside number four."
So begins a most eagerly anticipated new book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, slated for a June release. J.K. Rowling just delivered the fifth installment in her stupendously successful fantasy series after a long delay caused by... writer's block? Adjusting to massive success and wealth? Marriage and pregnancy? Does it really matter?
The first four books were published in the summers of 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000. So this book, estimated to weigh in at around 900 pages (a third longer than the last one), has clearly been cooking for a while. So far, an estimated 192 million copies of the four books have been sold worldwide, in at least 55 languages and more than 200 countries.
Between installments four and five, two successful movies were released based on installments one and two -- with more on the way. Rowling, who recently surpassed both Madonna and the Queen to become England's wealthiest woman, has long said she plans for the series to consist of seven books.
What does this mean for investors? Well, it's good news for Scholastic
It may also be good for the book industry in general, fueling an interest in reading by both children and adults. Some worry the fifth book's delay has dampened enthusiasm for the series. That may be true, but then each year brings a new crop of readers old enough to begin reading the books. And sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder.