Apply your best British accent to his name, and what comes out will probably bring a smile to his face. It’s OK, he’s been getting it for a while.
USF researcher Arrie Potter said it was actually when people started taking notice of his name that he started taking notice of the Harry Potter phenomenon.
Just days away from the long-awaited release of the fifth installment of the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is slotted to become the fastest-selling book of all time, and Arrie enjoys when people look at his name and conjure up the world’s most famous boy wizard.
Potter, whose first name is actually pronounced “eye-ree,” said he doesn’t much mind the attention his name garners.
“Most people call me ‘Arry'(like Harry),” he said. “But I’m OK with it. The kids love it.”
Potter is excited about the release of the new book and has been methodical in his readings of the previous books, waiting to the last possible minute to finish the fourth book, The Goblet of Fire.
The Order of the Phoenix hits bookshelves one minute after midnight June 21.
USF professor Sherman Dorn shares Potter’s excitement. He’s buying two copies on Saturday for his two children, but with a stipulation: They can’t start reading the books until they board an airplane Monday for a 9-day family excursion to Hawaii.
“They can start reading them the instant they are buckled into the plane,” Dorn said.
Cruel and unusual punishment? No. Dorn just wants the books to last them throughout the vacation.
And he’s banking on either his eight or 11-year-old finishing the 896-page book, penned by now-famous British author J.K. Rowling, because he wants to start reading it on the way back.
“Twenty-one hours of flight time. I think they’ll finish,” he said.
And Dorn and his children aren’t the only ones who share in the excitement surrounding the new book.
USF President Judy Genshaft wrote in an e-mail Tuesday that she and her husband are Potter fans. Her children, too.
“My older son (going into 5th grade) is very much looking forward to reading the new Harry Potter book,” Genshaft said. “Whenever he’s at a bookstore he asks if it’s been released yet. My younger son (going into first grade) loves the movies.”
The series has been a regular on WUSF Radio during the past few years, as well. The Radio Reading Service, which targets reading-impaired and blind readers, received a good response when it broadcast a few of the Potter books two years ago.
“Though many of our listeners are older, there is an appeal that just transcends age groups,” said Brad Stager, director for the reading service. And by older, he doesn’t mean college-age. He said the majority of the station’s listeners are older than 65.
Stager says the station is planning on reading the fifth book on air, but hasn’t yet decided when.
Some professors have also incorporated the books into their classes. English professor Laura Head and business professor Michael Douglas have both utilized the books in their classrooms. Douglas had his students conduct a research project in an e-commerce class last year. His syllabus read: “Your task is to design a business and develop a Web service solving a ‘Harry Potter’ world problem.”
Neither professor could be reached for comment.
Dorn, who is an associate professor in education, sprinkles quotations from the books throughout his syllabi and plans to add new ones from The Order of the Phoenix next semester.
The book is believed to be the biggest selling item in e-commerce history. Amazon.com reported two weeks ago that it is the online retailer’s biggest selling book in its history.
Bookstores worldwide will be keeping late hours Friday to throw parties for the midnight release.
The USF Bookstore will be open for the book’s release Saturday and will offer 20 percent off the retail price of $29.99. The store opens at 10 a.m. and will have about 30 copies in stock, said Grace McQueen, the Bookstore’s director.
And if you’re a little light in the pocket, don’t count on getting The Order of the Phoenix at the USF Tampa Library just yet. It hasn’t ordered the book, said Larry Heilos, director of collections. There’s no way the Library could handle the initial demand for the book and during the summer, he said, the Library does its best to reorganize for the new school year before taking in new books.
“There’s not a whole lot of ordering done yet because it is the end of the school,” Heilos said. “We’ll order sometime early in July.”
If you want the book from a library, your best bet, Heilos said, is the Tampa Public Library. He said he thinks it will order dozens of copies and may even have it on its shelves Saturday.
The release of The Order of the Phoenix has been making headlines worldwide, as extra-tight security measures have been broken on more than one occasion.
Last month, four men were arrested for stealing copies from the publisher’s warehouse in England.
Earlier this week, more than 7,500 copies were stolen from another warehouse.
And on Tuesday, a grocer from Brooklyn sold his four copies, despite strict instructions from the publisher to wait until Saturday.
One of the copies was sold to a New York Daily News reporter. The paper teased the story on its front page Wednesday.
All told, the term “Harry Potter” has appeared in 269 newspaper articles in the past week alone, according to Lexis Nexis, a search engine that combs nearly 6,000 publications worldwide.
Delivery of the books will prove to be difficult. The book weighs 2.2 pounds and is 2.5 inches thick. In England, postmen will use special vans Saturday to deliver the first 500,000 copies. In the United States, Scholastic has printed an unprecedented 8.5 million copies of The Order of the Phoenix. Reuters News Service reported Wednesday that if all the U.S. copies were stacked, it would equal the height of 1,405 Empire State Buildings.
But not everyone is caught up by the near fatal adventures of Harry and his Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry pals Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.
Leigh Armstrong, a sophomore, said the Potter phenomenon got off to a good start, but now he is repulsed by most of what he sees in regards to the boy wizard. Now, when Armstrong sees Harry Potter, he mainly sees dollar signs.
“Overall, I think it’s just gone too far,” he said. “I really don’t care to see all these kids sucked into one good thing, which is reading, and then sucked into 20 bad things (from over-commercialization).”
In addition, Armstrong, who admitted to reading all four books and not particularly liking them, said of Harry Potter: “It’s raising a generation of geeks.”Senior Kewin Lyons agrees.
“When I was little, we had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and other fantasies,” he said. “(With Harry Potter) I think it’s just getting a little too out there. Little kids take this stuff seriously, and it’s given them a false sense of reality.”