Editorial: Book world abuzz again

By Katie Shevlin

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Harry Potter mania has once again swept across the globe.

Billed as the eighth instalment in the series, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is an adapted script of a West End play of the same name, which had its opening night on Saturday.

The scenes witnessed over the weekend are a rare sight for 2016. Hordes of people queued outside bookshops eagerly awaiting their copy. Many stores received unprecedented pre-sale orders and some bookshops in New Zealand sold out of their copies within minutes.

So much has become of the Harry Potter brand and film franchise over the years that it is easy to forget it all started with a book.

I was 7 when Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was first released. I grew up with Harry, Ron and Hermione - they were as much my mates as my real mates were. As my 11th birthday neared, I waited eagerly for the letter from Hogwarts. I'm still waiting.

When a new book in the series was published, I devoured it greedily in my bed by torchlight until I could read no more, falling into a dream world of wizards and owls and potions.

Judging by the crowds that packed out bookshops the world over, the magical world that captured my imagination continues to enthral people today. I firmly believe that, this week, many kids will be wearing out their torches, reading through the night.

Unlike nine years ago, when the last instalment was released, the book was available to download on e-readers immediately, which makes it especially heartening that so many turned out at stores to get the physical thing.

In an age of Snapchat, Tinder and Pokemon Go, where people's eyes are regularly glued to a screen, it is blissful to know that something as old-fashioned as a book - a tangible thing made of paper where you actually have to lift and turn the pages yourself - can still create this much excitement.

The fact that people are still willing and able to get lost in a story longer than 140 characters is magical in itself.

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