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Culture

Harry Potter Brings Magic to the Homeless

Two weeks before the fifth Harry Potter book gets its German-language release, fans will be able to satisfy their curiosity and help the poor at the same time when the first chapter appears in 21 charitable publications.

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The wait is almost over for Germany's impatient Potter fans

Underprivileged German-speaking muggles are set to get a bit of help from Harry Potter when the opening excerpts from his latest adventure appear in magazines sold by homeless people starting next week.

The first chapter of the boy wizard’s fifth outing, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, will be printed in over 20 street magazines in Germany, Switzerland and Austria ahead of the publication of the German translation of the book on November 8. The initiative was officially unveiled at the Frankfurt Book Fair earlier this month.

Author Joanne K. Rowling has broken her own golden rule of not releasing any hints or extracts from her phenomenally successful series by giving her approval for the chapter to appear first in the designated street newspapers, according to German publisher Carlsen.

Author remembers the hard times

Joanne K Rowling

J.K. Rowling, author of the "Harry Potter" books.

The writer, who first imagined the world of Hogwarts School and the struggles between good and evil while an unemployed single mother living on welfare benefits, supports several charitable causes with her book sales and gave exclusive rights to the street newspapers in a bid to boost funding for the homeless and jobless projects the publications support.

"By giving newspapers sold for the homeless in German-speaking countries the right to print advance copies for free, it is giving them the chance to boost their circulation and awareness for the social concerns of such projects," Carlsen said in a statement.

A massive boost

Birgit Müller, editor of Hinz & Kunzt, Germany’s biggest-selling street magazine, said the offer from Rowling's publishers was a wonderful surprise and too good to refuse. "It was the greatest gift to us to be able to publish the chapter," she said. "The vendors are over the moon. It will give us a massive boost."

The special Potter edition of Hinz & Kunzt goes on sale in Germany on October 25. It will cost €1.50 ($1.75), of which 80 cents goes to the vendor. The magazine and those others which will carry the exclusive preview are expecting massive demand for the copies, since kids of all ages will likely be clamouring to feast their eyes on the opening chapter of Harry Potter und der Orden des Phoenix.

Huge demand

A spokesman for the Stütze homeless publication in Berlin told the daily newspaper Tagesspiegel that their offices had already been flooded with phone calls from across Germany asking for copies to be mailed to them. Impatient German Potter fans are likely to snap up the magazines in huge numbers if the latest book’s popularity and success in its original language is anything to go by.

HArry Potter Buchhandlung Verkaufsstart des 5. Bandes The Order of the Phoenix

The english language edition flew off the shelves on publication.

The English version of the novel, published in June, has already stormed the bestseller charts in Germany, selling some 500,000 copies. The homeless papers getting the Potter extracts are not the only ones who are expecting to benefit from Harry’s latest arrival in his German-speaking form. German booksellers are hoping that the launch of the translated edition will spark a much-needed revival in a book market currently afflicted with economic malaise.

Potter hope for book sales

Book sales in Germany recorded a 4.9 percent year on year drop in August but experts believe Christmas business and the “Harry Potter effect“ would probably less the pain reduced that number to 2 percent come the end of the year. Previous Potter releases had boosted annual sales of some retailers by as much as 5 percent.

But not everybody is happy at the magic Harry and his friends are about to weave on the funds of the 21 publications granted the publishing rights. An unnamed representative for a competing homeless publication that is not among the chosen group complained about unfair competition. "This will mean a drop in sales for us," he said.

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