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Date set for final Potter

Seventh installment released July 21

The seventh and final book installment of the Harry Potter series will be released worldwide July 21, just eight days after Warners fifth installment of its movie franchise hits theaters.

Book, titled “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” will retail for the unusually high price of $35.

Many insiders had previously speculated the book would come out July 7. That would have run the title’s first week of release right into opening weekend of Warners’ “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” possibly fragmenting auds.

A spokesman for U.S. publisher Scholastic said it was the production schedule, not the Hollywood calendar, that drove the release date. But rep acknowledged that it could have been possible to roll out book one week earlier, on July 14, but that parties wanted to avoid the pic logjam.

New Potter will bring not only the usual media frenzy but a Hollywood-style release blitz. Each title in the series has sold more copies than the previous over its opening weekend (the sixth installment sold nearly 7 million copies on the first day), an event far more common in the movie industry than the book biz.

Release of what is for now the final title also closes a chapter for Scholastic, U.K. publisher Bloomsbury and the many others for whom release has brought tens of millions in profit.

That may have been part of the reason for the U.S. pricetag, which struck insiders as unusually high at $35, a 7% increase over the previous book.

“When you know you’re going out, you want to go out with a bang — an expensive bang,” one industry vet said.

And given how many stores are likely to discount the book by 40% or even more, Scholastic likely reasoned the price wouldn’t affect sales.

Though Scholastic has in recent years counted on Potter for double-digit percentages of its revenue, company has also begun to define itself in other ways.

Publisher has tried to move away from franchises, which are much harder to create and sustain and into more traditional one-off book publishing, which can be a more steady way to build a catalog.

It also brought in Disney vet Lisa Holton to replace former publisher Barbara Marcus partly for that purpose.

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