Thousands of Harry Potter fans in China swarmed into book stores in Beijing on Saturday to get the seventh and final volume of the boy wizard's adventures after standing in line for several hours from midnight.
Chinese book stores opened their doors for sales of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at 7:01 AM, Beijing time.
More than 200 books have been sold in Wangfujing Book Store within 40 minutes and the Beijing Book Building has sold more than 1,500 books till 11:00 AM.
"The previous versions did very well here, and we expect the seventh book to create a new selling record among the Harry Potter series," said Yang Xinyuan, manager of the original version books department of the Beijing Book Building.
"I didn't have the opportunity to get the previous books at the same time with other readers in the world, so I have to catch the last chance to read it at the first time," said Zhu Shengtao,19, who arrived at the Beijing Book Building at around 9:00 PM Friday.
Liu Jiangeng, a junior college student, was lucky enough to be the pioneer leading the queue by arriving at the Wangfujing Book Store at 8:00 PM Friday.
"I spent the rest hours wandering around the store, waiting for the sky lit up. I don't feel tired," he said.
Shi Miao and her mother trotted breathlessly to the store, saying that "we don't want to miss this historic moment."
Although not as lucky as their English counterparts, who may have the author J. K. Rowling on the spot to read for them some of the chapters, Chinese fans have got their own pleasure and surprise.
Guo Xuan, 19, a girl from central China's Hubei Province got a collection of the English version for previous six books of the series during the lottery drawing session scheduled by the Beijing Book Building.
"I've already got the six books in Chinese. It's so lucky that I could get all of them in English today," Guo said, with a big smile.
Her friend pre-ordered the book online, however, Guo said she couldn't wait to find out the final destination of Harry Potter.
With invisible cloaks and big glasses, four little Chinese "Harry Potters", who won in a mocking competition, were awarded the copies of the final book at Wangfujing Book Store.
Lei La, 23, a die-hard Harry Potter fan skimmed through the 607-page book as soon as she had it in hand and found the ending is the same as the version leaked on a foreign website one week ago.
"I'm not disappointed as it's J.K. Rowling's decision," she said.
The leaks in various versions have caused big headache for Harry Potter publishers, who spent millions of dollars on safeguarding to prevent the content from being stolen.
Some Chinese students read the Potter stories to improve their English.
"I started to read the English version four years ago when many words were strange to me, but I love the story so much that I looked up every new word in a dictionary," said Zhou Mengyan, a junior college student.
She said her mother used to worry that the book might distract her from study.
However, "when I translated some English paragraphs while she checked the Chinese version, it matched. Then she began to support my reading of Harry Potter," she said.
A total of 38,000 Harry Potter books had been transported to Beijing on July 15 and Shanghai got some 20,000 from the English publishers.
The seventh volume of Harry Potter series also goes on sale in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu at the same time with the world.
China began to publish the original version of the series in 2003 when the fifth volume came out.
Others who prefer to read the book in Chinese have to wait for another three months till late October for the translated copy in their native language.
More than 10 million of the previous six volumes have been sold in China, according to statistics.
(Xinhua News Agency July 21, 2007)