JK Rowling’s Harry Potter spin-off The Tales of Beedle the Bard hits the shelves
JK Rowling fans in Northern Ireland will from today be able to get their hands on a copy of the much anticpated Harry Potter spin-off The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
Major book chains throughout the province have stocked up on the new book, with some offering 50% off while stocks last.
And while stores in Northern Ireland were not anticipating queues of eager bookworms, elsewhere shops opened their doors at midnight to allow those fans committed enough to brave the cold to purchase a copy of the book which is expected to once again dominate the world's best seller lists over the Christmas period.
Unlike the previous seven books written by Rowling, a former single mother living on benefits who has since become the world's first billion dollar author, The Tales of Beedle the Bard does not follow the adventures of Harry and his wizarding friends Hermione and Ron as they battle the evil Lord Voldemort.
Instead it is a collection of five fairy tales that are bequeathed to Hermione in the final book and help the trio defeat their evil nemesis.
Only one of seven handwritten copies are in existence and the only one made available for purchase sold for £1.95m at a glittering Sotheby's auction becoming the most expensive modern literary manuscript ever sold.
Proceeds from the books will be given to a charity that Rowling co-founded, once distribution costs have been recouped by retailers and the book's British and American publishers Bloomsbury and Scholastic.
But although the collection of fairy tales has been given a comparatively low-key launch compared to previous Harry Potter releases, where fans have been known to queue for days, it is still expected to become an international bestseller with a global print run of 7.5 million copies. The Royal National Institute for Blind People is also making Braille and audio copies of the book available.
Rowling herself will attend a small book launch later this afternoon in Edinburgh, where she lives, and she will read extracts of the fairy tales to a number of local school children.
She wrote the fairy tale collection shortly after completing her last Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and described it as a way of saying goodbye to the series that has made her the world's richest living author.
In the final book of the series, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry gave a volume of fairy tales to Hermione Granger in his will.
The tales contained clues that later proved crucial to Harry's final mission to destroy Lord Voldermort.
One of the fairy tales, The Tale of the Three Brothers, was recounted in full inside the Deathly Hallows as it contained some of the final clues to defeat Voldermort but the other four fairy tales will not have been seen by Harry Potter fans before.
As with previous Harry Potter releases, the media have not been sent advance copies of the book but the titles for the new fairy tales are: The Fountain Of Fair Fortune; The Warlock's Hairy Heart; The Wizard And The Hopping Pot; and Babbitty Rabbitty And Her Cackling Stump.
For Harry Potter fans the release of Beedle the Bard is something of a bonus.