The due date for the seventh and final instalment of J K Rowling's famed Harry Potter series to hit the stands is still months away, but pre-bookings for the book have already peaked in India.
Set in the imaginary Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Harry Potter fantasy series first hit the stands in 1997. Ten years down the line and six editions later, the book has sold more than 325 million copies and has been translated into 63 languages.
Now with the author admitting that of all the seven books that she penned, this is her favourite and the faint possibility that Harry, the adolescent hero of the book, might die at the end, Potter fans can't wait to get hold of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
The sixth edition of the series sold 100,000 copies in the first 24 hours of its release in India alone. Going on to smash all records by selling 160,000 copies in hardback, the book has been a huge success.
Thomas Abraham, CEO of Penguin India, the publishing house that represents the book in India, said they expect the numbers to go even higher with the seventh novel.
"We know that the sales are going to cross 200,000 this time," Abraham told IANS.
"Never before has any other book, except probably Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, received such a phenomenal response. Although Brown's next book The Solomon Key, a kind of sequel to Da Vinci Code and due to be released by year-end, is also getting a good response, Potter-mania rules," he said.
It is no surprise then that various bookshops across the country have started receiving a high number of pre-booking offers for the book despite the scheduled date of its release being July 21.
Crossword Bookstore, a national bookshop chain, has already received 1,800 confirmed bookings till now. With various offers on pre-bookings, such as a Rs 200 gift voucher, free membership of the Crossword Book Rewards Programme and subsidised rates on previous Potter books, the temptation is hard to resist.
Teksons, a bookstore in Delhi, is offering a 20 percent discount on pre-booking. "The price of the book will be Rs 975. We are offering a 20 percent discount on it. Never before have we had such a big demand for a book. But with Harry Potter, it's different," the store manager said.
"The due date of its release is still far away and the book will not be in short supply. We have observed that in the case of the previous editions, the book flew off the shelves in the first three days and then the sales come down because people felt more relaxed that it is not in short supply," said Anil Arora of The Bookworm, another bookshop in Delhi.
"But I guess fans don't want to take a chance. We have been receiving almost 10 bookings a day," he added.
Oxford Bookstore, a national bookshop chain, has also received pre-bookings and is offering a 15 percent discount on it.
The book will be dispatched to customers after its Indian release at 6 am on July 21.
"I can't wait to read the seventh edition of the book. There are so many unsolved mysteries, so many questions to be answered. It's a mixed feeling. I am excited that the book will be finally out, at the same time sad that this will be the end of the Potter series," said Shyama Das, a Potter fan here.
"And I fear the worst, that Harry might die," whispered her friend Raina.
On a recent media report that an online version of the book is already doing the rounds, one fan said: "I read the first page of the so-called online version of the book, and it's definitely not Rowling. It's a fake."
With the Muggles - as humans are referred to in Potter lingo - making a beeline for the book so much in advance, it's quite evident that Potter-mania is here to stay.