No fanfare for Rowling’s latest

Lukewarm: Customers at Landmark in Spencer Plaza browse J.K. Rowling.’s new book.   | Photo Credit: — PHOTO: S. THANTHONI

Liffy Thomas and R. Sujatha

CHENNAI: Buried between stacks of books sporting catchy covers, even a muggle could have lost J.K. Rowling’s latest book. Pale blue with a dull look, ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard,’ a prequel to the Potter series, is certainly not the book your hands would reach out to at first glance.

The celebrity author’s latest book hit stores in the city on Friday, but it has not created the ripple which the Harry Potter series evoked among fans. Though its launch was delayed by a day in Chennai, bookstore managers say the initial response is lukewarm.

Until Friday evening at Landmark, Spencer Plaza, only two copies were sold. There were around 25 pre-booking orders placed since the last two weeks, and managers say the book sale cannot be compared to any of the HP series. Most booklovers were not buying the copy as it is overpriced for the number of pages it has. “The 108-odd page book is priced at Rs. 599. Some book lovers have even complained that the cover is not appealing,” said a store executive with Landmark.

But it is said never judge a book by its cover and some Rowling fans know that very well. Naveen Sodem, a student of Loyola College, was among those to place order well in advance.

“I completed the book in one and a half hours. It is expensive for the number of pages, but I collect all J.K Rowling books and the price could not deter me,” he said.

Other muggles agree that the five diverse fairy tales, each with its own magical character, with Professor Albus Dumbledore’s note after every tale, was a breezy read.

“One of the stories in the book is a tale of the three brothers which is mentioned in seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” says G. Dhananjay, a class X student, an ardent Potter fan. “In this book three other books find mention. I have a copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. In Fantastic… you will see Harry’s scribbled notes across the book,” he says solemnly. The delay in getting his copy of the Beedle… is not bothering him because he says he has only one of the three books yet.

Ashwin Mahalingam, assistant professor of civil engineering at IIT-Madras, began reading HP series in 2000 to improve his German. Then two books in the series were presented to him and he managed to buy the rest. “I certainly looked forward to reading the Potter book. I knew that she [the author] has released a bunch of non-core books. But, the latest book is not on the top of my list, though I may read it sometime later,” he said.

Mohamed Faizan (23), whose favourite character in HP series is Snape, is not excited.

“I will probably read the new book sometime later. After all it is a fairy tale collection. I started when I was in Standard XI. I grew up with the characters in Harry Potter books. The new one is a book within a book and meant for small children. If it had been a book on Harry I would have stood in a queue to buy it,” Mr. Faizan said.