Backblog 1: Harry Potter

Sun 7/22/2007

Okay, I have a lot of things to blog about, and it needs to start with HARRY POTTER.

Aaron and I left Vermont a little after 1pm on Sunday and we arrived back in Brooklyn by about 7pm or so. I quickly dropped all my stuff, checked my email (which I had not done in three days) and then dashed back out the door to get in line for the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I arrived at the Barnes & Noble on Union Square Park a little after 9pm, and the scene was already totally crazy. Originally I had wanted to come early to hear Jim Dale do a reading from 10:30 to midnight, but it was already "sold out" so instead I got in line.

Here's how the line was SUPPOSED to work:

For the entire day, B&N had been handing out NUMBERED, yellow wrist bands to people who had reserved a copy of the book. So a lot of people got them in the morning or the middle of the day and then left, to come back later and collect. You could also get a numbered RED wrist band, if you hadn't reserved a copy, but wanted to buy a copy opening night.

By the time I showed up there were two lines: One line, going west out of the front door, was full of people who already had their wrist bands. The other line, heading East was people who had not yet received their wrist bands.

Here's the problem though: There was only ONE B&N employee distributing this information, and there were, quite literally, THOUSANDS of people approaching the building from all different directions. Tons of people with bracelets got into the bracelet-less line and TONS of people without bracelets got into the bracelet line. (Do you see where this is going?)

To make matters worse, the building had very rapidly reached it's maximum occupancy (Please keep in mind this is a gigantic 5-story building that is ENTIRELY a bookstore!) So the police department showed up and placed guards across the entrance of the store, only letting in a new person when someone else left the store, which wasn't happening. There was all kinds of crazy promotional stuff going on inside (Jim Dale's reading, a costume contest, Scholastic publicity stuff, giveaways, etc), so the people inside would have been insane to leave.

By midnight there were (by my estimate) about 3,000 people in line and outside the store. I was close to the front of the store, which was starting to fill up with people who had arrived on the scene, seen the lines, tried to find the end of a line, only to realize that BOTH lines had gone ENTIRELY around the block and met up at the other side (essentially "surrounding" the city block) so instead they just went and hung out around the front of the store. There were enough people to entirely cover the sidewalk, and one lane of traffic. The cops tried to push people out of the street, but there were too many, so they started filling the North side of Union Square Park, across the street.

The first copy of the book did not leave the store until about 12:30. The guy had to push his way through the crowd, holding the book over his head (to everyone's cheers!) Then, a B&N person comes to the front door with a megaphone and says "Okay, people with yellow wrist bands from 0-250 please come forward." ??! That's when people started pushing.

I generally do not like being surrounded (SHOULDER TO SHOULDER) with total strangers, especially thousands of them, especially when they all want something that is inside a building, especially when the system for organizing them is falling to pieces. It was total chaos. People started cutting in line, saying "I have a yellow wrist band!" others started pushing their way through the mob in front of the store, trying to get in.

I watched a girl get pushed to the ground and stepped on. She screamed and was dragged inside the store by the police. Her father was barely allowed to come in with her, because he didn't have a wrist band. I was on the verge of screaming "It's just a BOOK people" but instead I decided I needed to get the hell out of there.

I forced my way through the throng of people and as soon as I was clear of the mob I breathed a sigh of relief. At that point, I had been standing in line for four hours and I suddenly realized I had forgotten to eat dinner. I walked 10 blocks to an all-night diner I know of and got something to eat, which took about an hour. When I returned to the store around 2am, the situation had mostly dissolved.

I got in one of the lines, which was only about half a block long at that point. Then a few minutes later a woman came out, asking if anyone had reserved a copy. I said that I had and she immediately pulled me out of line, brought me into the building, where I was given my yellow bracelet, and then she basically cut me in line, ahead of probably half an hour of maze-like twists and turns.

I had my copy by 2:30am. The L train was down, but I didn't care. I was reading. I stayed up until 4am that night until I couldn't keep my eyes open. Then I woke up at 8am and read all day and night. I finished the book at 1pm this morning.

I'm not going to say anything about the plot of the book, in case people haven't read it. But I WILL say that is probably one of the most amazing, satisfying books I have ever read. I am extremely sad that the series is over, but it was so wonderful going along for the ride. If you haven't read Harry Potter then you better get cracking!

4 comments on this entry

good lord--- congratulations for surviving that!!! good thing you had a huge dose of vermont beforehand...

i had hoped to join in on the last harry potter celebration, but all was already said and done at the chelsea b&n by 12:45am--- i couldn't even get into the store, as they were in the process of cleaning up a rather desolate scene :-(( wow, what a contrast...

p.s. i'm one page plus cover away from finishing up 'the fall'--- will be in touch soon to have you mastermind me through the self-publishing process :-))

p.s.s. LOVE THE MURAL--- our nesting box is finally all put together and it looks AWESOME!!! YEAH!!!

stephanie Jul22

I just finished the book about an hour ago. I sat in the house all weekend with it until I had bout 50 pages left, then I rode out to a park to finish it up. I want to talk about it with people but no one I know is a fanatic out here, and no one's finished it yet!

I have immense relief and satisfaction at the conclusion, but grief at both the events in the book and the fact that the series is over. Several of my FAVORITE characters ended up... not as I would have liked them to, but for the most part, I'd predicted what this book held and I wasn't disappointed. Could it have been any more kick-ass, though? Seriously!

Your partner in devoted nerditude,
Sarah

Sarah O Jul22

I am about half-way through the book... dizzying pace thus far.

Jewett Jul23

just finished...
i absolutely LOVED it...
i only cried three times...
as i paged through it i was seriously wondering how she was going to resolve certain confounding elements, but she did it...
i'm very sad it's over...

jason Jul24

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