I’ve seen each of the Harry Potter films as they came out. Not because I’m a Potter fan, but because I’m a movie fan. I see just about every major Hollywood release. I haven’t read a single one of the books, though I did try listening to the audio book of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The only problem was it couldn’t hold my attention – I’d either fall asleep or find my mind wandering. In other words, I suppose I’m a muggle. I don’t particularly dislike Harry Potter, he just doesn’t really register on my radar, or on that of my 12 year old daughter.
I am, however, a collector of many things and understand the mania that collectors have for all things related to their field of interest. I’m also enough of an iconoclast to love news reports about the downfall of hugely popular topics. Which is why I’ve been following the message boards over at Amazon.com relating to the Collector’s Edition of The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
For those unfamiliar with the book, it seems that last year Ms. J.K. Rowling hand-penned a set of seven journal-sized books containing the collected tales of Beedle The Bard, a fictional character in the Harry Potter universe. Six of these hand-created tomes were given to “friends of the Harry Potter series” while the seventh was auctioned for charity accompanied by the assertion that the book would “never be published”. Well, Amazon.com won the auction for roughly $4,000,000 and Rowling announced last week that, despite her earlier promise the bard’s tales would, indeed, be published on December 4th of this year. Which only proves that anything is possible when there’s money to be made 😉
In addition to the traditional US and UK editions, Amazon.com has the exclusive distribution rights to a limited Collector’s Edition of the book which their site describes as follows-
Tucked in its own case disguised as a wizarding textbook found in the Hogwarts library, the Collector’s Edition includes an exclusive reproduction of J.K. Rowling’s handwritten introduction, as well as 10 additional illustrations not found in the Standard Edition or the original. Opening the case reveals a velvet bag embroidered with J.K. Rowling’s signature, in which sits the piece de resistance: your very own copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, complete with metal skull, corners, and clasp; replica gemstones; and emerald ribbon.
Offering the trademark wit and imagination familiar to Rowling’s legions of readers–as well as Aesop’s wisdom and the occasional darkness of the Brothers Grimm–each of these five tales reveals a lesson befitting children and parents alike: the strength gained with a trusted friendship, the redemptive power of love, and the true magic that exists in the hearts of all of us. Rowling’s new introduction also comments on the personal lessons she has taken from the Tales, noting that the characters in Beedle’s collection “take their fates into their own hands, rather than taking a prolonged nap or waiting for someone to return a lost shoe,” and “that magic causes as much trouble as it cures.”
But the true jewel of this new edition is the enlightening and comprehensive commentary (including extensive footnotes!) by Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, who brings his unique wizard’s-eye perspective to the collection. Discovered “among the many papers which Dumbledore left in his will to the Hogwarts Archives,” the venerable wizard’s ruminations on the Tales allow today’s readers to place them in the context of 16th century Muggle society, even allowing that “Beedle was somewhat out of step with his times in preaching a message of brotherly love for Muggles” during the era of witch hunts that would eventually drive the wizarding community into self-imposed exile. In fact, versions of the same stories told in wizarding households would shock many for their uncharitable treatment of their Muggle characters.
Professor Dumbledore also includes fascinating historical backstory, including tidbits such as the history and pursuit of magic wands, a brief comment on the Dark Arts and its practitioners, and the struggles with censorship that eventually led “a certain Beatrix Bloxam” to cleanse the Tales of “much of the darker themes that she found distasteful,” forever altering the meaning of the stories for their Muggle audience. Dumbledore also allows us a glimpse of his personal relationship to the Tales, remarking that it was through “Babbity Rabbity and Her Cackling Stump” that “many of us [wizards] first discovered that magic could not bring back the dead.”
Both a wise and delightful addition to the Harry Potter canon, this new translation of The Tales of Beedle the Bard is all that fans could hope for and more–and an essential volume for the libraries of Muggles, wizards, and witches, both young and old.
It sounds like an absolutely lovely book. Although the main Amazon listing doesn’t mention how many copies of the Collector’s Edition will be created, several press releases have confirmed the number to be limited to 100,000. Of course, Rowling’s lied to us about the liited nature of her books before, so…
However, what’s so tickled my fancy over the last week has been the gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair in the Amazon message boards over whether those who have pre-ordered their book would actually receive them, given its limited nature. It seems that, despite all evidence to the contrary, Harry Potter fans simply can’t believe that this beautifully crafted replica hasn’t sold out in less than a week. Personally I’m not in the least bit surprised.
Sure, the last Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the seventh and final Harry Potter book) currently holds the pre-order record at Amazon.com with 1.6 million copies pre-ordered, but that book also only cost $18 whereas the Collector’s Edition costs a cool $100. Besides, the Collector’s Edition is competing with the standard edition of the book which is available for a mere $8, and this book doesn’t even mention Harry himself!
Of course, I still ordered one 😈 Why? Because the next Harry Potter film (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) releases on November 21st, The Tales of Beedle The Bard releases on December 4th, and Christmas is on December 25th. Which will all add up to big demand on eBay for this Collector’s Edition this holiday season and I have no problem whatsoever profiting off of other people’s collectible needs in order to further fund my own.
The Complete Cool Books Series-
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- Harry Potter and the Marketing Mania Meltdown
- California Swimming Holes