NEW YORK – When the clock strikes midnight on Friday, Harry Potter (search) hysteria will climax across the country as the highly anticipated fifth boy-wizard book goes on sale.
We're not just talking long lines here — parties, costumes and security fit for a king will be in full effect at bookstores nationwide as wannabe wizards fly out in force to spend $29.95 a pop on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Advance orders of J. K. Rowling's (search) fifth Potter tome have already surpassed the previous installments' sales.
In England, fans were already busy delving into the latest tale after waiting until the stroke of midnight to make their purchase.
"I love it so much I get goosebumps," said 12-year-old Lisa Brummett of Mesa, Ariz., after hours of waiting at the WH Smith bookstore at London's King's Cross rail station to buy the thick new book, Rowling's first in three years.
There was no less enthusiasm stateside.
"It's Harry mania at Amazon.com," Bill Carr, the online retailer's director of books, music, videos and DVDs, told Fox News Friday. "We've shattered all of our records."
The virtual bookstore's previous record-holder was the fourth Potter book, which received 350,000 advance orders, and Phoenix has "nearly doubled" that volume already.
"Even within the popular series, this book is record setting," said Carr. "We think it will be the biggest new product release in the history of e-commerce."
At 870 pages, the book's length would make some readers scoff — and weighing 2.8 pounds is no treat to tote around — but Amazon said Harry attracts readers of every type.
"We find that Harry appeals to kids of all ages," said Carr. "Kids that are 12 and kids that are 42 as well."
At Waterstone's flagship bookstore in Piccadilly, central London, managers decked out a whole floor with scenes from the book, including the Gryffindor common room, magic shops from Diagon Alley and Hagrid's cabin.
In the U.S., aspiring young wizards visiting a Barnes & Noble in Henderson, Nev., were due to receive a pair of Harry Potter glasses and be placed under the Sorting Hat to determine which house they belong to at Hogwarts. And at a Borders in Chicago, youngsters made owl puppets and got their faces painted.
Although the spine isn't officially meant to be cracked until midnight, a few Muggles have been lucky enough to get hold of the book already.
Kaitlin Webster, 14, couldn't believe her luck when she spied a copy of the tome for sale at her local Walgreen's drugstore in Daytona Beach, Fla., the New York Post reported.
"I'm shaking because I'm so excited," Kaitlin told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. "I feel like I'm the luckiest kid in America."
Kaitlin gave the book rave reviews, but was tight-lipped about the plot, because "I don't want to ruin it for anyone."
In Canada a woman said she bought Harry's latest tale at a Wal-Mart a whopping 10 days before the release date. "I think it's pure luck," Melissa, 23, told the Montreal Gazette, requesting her last name not be used.
These readers feel fortunate for good reason — around 200 million copies of the first four books in the series have been sold, in 55 languages — so getting their paws on a copy before the rest of the world is quite unique.
Publisher Scholastic is prepared for the demand, and has commissioned a first printing of 8.5 million copies for this fifth installment.
Author J.K. Rowling is now worth more than the Queen of England – amassing a $300 million fortune — and the books have become treasures highly sought by thieves.
Extraordinary pre-release security hasn't halted deviant behavior to be the first to get a hand on Harry.
Rowling sued the New York Daily News for $100 million Wednesday after the newspaper obtained an early copy of the new novel and published a preview, the book's U.S. publisher said. The News published details from the book after buying a copy from a Brooklyn, N.Y., health food store that had mistakenly put the book out for sale before its official release.
In England, authorities in Newtown-le-Willows were looking for a tractor-trailer containing 7,800 copies of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that were taken from outside a warehouse.
The copies of Phoenix were in a parked truck awaiting distribution to bookstores for the launch early Saturday morning, but police said thieves made off with the truck on Sunday evening. It was found Monday about 18 miles away, minus its load valued around $1.68 million.
Also in England earlier this month, Donald Parfitt, 44, a printing plant worker, was sentenced to 180 hours community service for stealing pages from the unreleased novel that he found in a parking lot as he was leaving work. Police said he offered The Sun newspaper three chapters of the book for $40,000.
Tight security has been instituted at Amazon.com, where employees began packaging the new Harry Potter book at five regional warehouses Monday with a warning label: "Do not under any circumstances deliver before June 21."
The company has added the U.S. Postal Service this time to help pull off same-day delivery, along with FedEx Corp., which handled the last shipment.
"We anticipate more than one-quarter million (nationally) this time but we really won't know until the end of June 21st," said Michael Holland, managing director of the West Coast region for FedEx Home Delivery based in Irvine, Calif.
Despite the economic implications of the book and all the hysteria that swirls around it, the excitement boils down to a love for reading Harry's ongoing adventures.
"The great thing about this craze is it is about reading," said Carr. "It's great to see kids so excited and J.K. Rowling has written some really entertaining books."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.