Market welcomes back ‘Potter’ biz

Publishers' stock soars on Rowling news

NEW YORK — Word that author J.K. Rowling has finished the sixth Harry Potter book worked transcontinental magic Tuesday on shares of her U.S. and U.K. publishing houses.

Stateside, Scholastic Corp. closed up 4.2% at $37.44, the sharpest gain since January 2003. In England, publisher Bloomsbury shares were up 8.2% to close at a record 296 pence in London.

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is set to hit store shelves July 16 in the U.S., Britain, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, Bloomsbury and Scholastic announced.

“We are delighted to announce the publication date. J.K. Rowling has written a brilliant story that will dazzle her fans in a marvelous book that takes the series to yet greater heights,” said Scholastic, which holds the exclusive publishing rights to the Potter series in the U.S.

Scholastic has set a hardcover price of $29.99.

Rowling’s just-finished manuscript tells the story of Harry Potter’s sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. She told fans via her official Web site that she knew they were expecting the news on Christmas, but decided to give them an early holiday treat.

The previous book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” was published in June 2003 and sold an unprecedented 6.78 million copies in the U.S. and England on its release date. All told, more than a quarter of a billion Potter books have been sold worldwide in 60 languages.

Major booksellers in the U.S. saw their shares buoyed as well during trading Tuesday. Borders closed up 1.6% at $24.07, while Barnes & Noble closed up 1% at $39.32.

Box office for the Harry Potter films, produced by Warner Bros., is in more than $2.6 billion worldwide. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” the fourth film in the series, is skedded to bow in November.

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