ATLANTA – It was a nasty vanishing act that would have made Lord Voldemort proud.
Harry Potter charmed millions of readers this weekend, but the spell was broken at least briefly for some fans when they found pages missing from their precious copies of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."
The book's publisher, Scholastic Inc., says a few hundred of the 12 million copies of the book are reported to have pages missing. The gaps have left hardcore Potterphiles rushing to stores to exchange them -- or filing them away as mementos of the book's epic release.
Leanne Greer, 36, had gone on "lock down" -- no television, radio or Internet -- after buying her copy of "Deathly Hallows" at about 7 a.m. on Saturday. She said she finished reading page 306, then discovered the next 33 pages of the book were missing.
"I just kind of freaked out," said Greer, a Purdue University graduate with degrees in elementary education and English. "My husband said, 'Why are you screaming?' He said 'I thought one of the kids was hurt."'
Luckily for Greer, she had a backup for her store-bought copy; she had ordered another copy online.
"I'm just that psychotic about it," she said.
She tore open the package that arrived in the mail and kept reading.
Officials at Scholastic said that with such a massive printing -- 8.3 million copies of the final installment of J.K. Rowling's fantasy series sold in the first 24 hours -- a handful of problems was probably unavoidable.
"Printing and distributing 12 million copies of a book is a Herculean task, and it is not surprising that some books would have printing errors," Scholastic spokeswoman Sara Sinek said in a statement.
She said that as of Tuesday, the company had only heard of "a few hundred" instances of books with missing pages.
Sinek said Scholastic is happy to replace any book with a defect and advised customers to take defective books back to the place where they were purchased.
Not going to happen, said Mary Hunt, a mother of two from upstate New York who was vacationing in Philadelphia when she found the book she bought at midnight Friday was missing pages 19-50.
"Oh, no way!" she said. "I have it and I've got it safely in its dust jacket inside one of those cloth book covers.
"It's too cool -- it's fun to have something people are talking about."
At least some would-be Potter entrepreneurs agree.
By Tuesday morning, several copies of the misprinted books were being offered for sale on the online auction site eBay, with opening bids as high as $30. The book has a list price of $34.99, but many retailers offered discounts of 40 percent or more.
Keeping the book was a luxury for Hunt. She'd gotten three copies and was able to swap with her fast-reading daughter early Saturday morning.
"If I had been sitting there alone with only one copy, I would have gone back to the store and screamed," she said.
Greer is keeping hers as well.
"I don't know who would buy it, but maybe when some of these crazy kids grow up, they'll want to have something like that," she said.